My kids are growing up in a brave new world dominated by social media.
Me, I’m still trying to figure out what this whole hash-tag thing is about. I don’t have a twitter account. Or rather, I do, but I’ve forgotten how to access it. The only time I used it was back in ’09 when I got incredibly frustrated over bad customer service at an airline that shall remain nameless (you know, the one that “breaks guitars”). They managed to lose my luggage on a one-hour direct flight, and every time I called them to try to resolve the issue, I ended up getting transferred, or put on hold, or disconnected. Finally I got through to a real live person, who denied all knowledge of any lost luggage claim (though I filled out the paperwork in triplicate before leaving the airport). So what’s a girl to do at 5 a.m. but open a Twitter account and tweet her outrage into the world wide web? (By the way, it worked: within an hour of that tweet, I got a call from the airline that they’d miraculously recovered my luggage and would deliver it that day!)
After that, I got caught up in other things: work, kids, real life.
But the virtual world just wouldn’t go away. Friends kept bugging me to open a Facebook account. Email is passé, they said. IM—what’s that? You can still text, but what you really need is photos, videos, check-ins. Right. Do these people not know about all the criminals out there, monitoring FB and Tumblr and Meetup to know when you’re not at home so they can burglarize your empty house?!?
Alas, I am alone in my paranoia. And truth to tell, some of my reluctance to join the digital revolution is fueled by the fact that I am an idiot when it comes to computers. I never quite got over the trauma of having to learn how to program in FORTRAN. (For those of you who were born into a world of smartphones and swipe-screens, FORTRAN is a long-dead computer language from post-IBM, pre-Apple days. It’s what Latin is to the Romance languages that grew out of it. Do they even teach Latin in public school anymore?)
What’s more, I actually like communicating the old fashioned way. I enjoy talking with people face to face. And I especially love writing letters long-hand, putting them in an envelope, sticking on a stamp, and dropping them off at the corner post-office. I grew up reading volumes of correspondence between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (sigh!), Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, Shelby Foote and Walker Percy. Really, how can Twitter or Facebook compare with that?
In quantum physics, there is the law: “like attracts like.” This principle applies to relationships, too. We self-select our social network—both online and in the real world. As a result, I am marooned on an island of similar-minded Luddites. In our world, “going viral” still refers to a constellation of symptoms including fever, cough, and congestion.
So, until my kids are old enough to clue me in, I will likely remain a social networking illiterate. I will not be plugging my books on a bazillion-and-one online sites. I will continue writing slowly, laboriously, in longhand (at least sometimes). And I hope that the content of what I write will be interesting enough to sell a few books.