At one point in my former newspaper career, I had to pull the “graveyard shift”: Saturday obit duty. This entailed not only writing about dead people, but also answering general calls to the newsroom. I remember one time, in particular, when an elderly gentleman phoned to complain that we were advertising “Barenaked Ladies.” I had to explain, patiently, that the paper was not touting the latest New Jersey strip club but instead a popular band by the same name.
I must say that I feel more sympathy for this fellow now that I’m wading into the sea of social media after a five-year-plus dry spell. Because I’ve been desperately trying to civilize my children instead of using Facebook and Twitter, shedding my Luddite skin has proven more challenging than I anticipated.
I’m sleep-deprived, not because my kids are keeping me up, but because I am awake until 2 a.m., trying to figure out why I can’t get my blog title to update in my email feeds and Facebook posts. I’ve gotten lost in some interesting conspiracy theory threads about how competing Google and Facebook are out to “screw” their users – especially the Canadians – by making it next to impossible for people to work out bugs like the one I’m still trying to resolve.
My 2-year-old has taken to crying, “No puter mommy,” when I slip over to my MacBook Pro during a game of putting “peanut butter” on Play-Doh “pretzels.” It’s like I’ve snuck back to work in front of my children’s faces without telling them – and without managing to earn any money.
The worst offense, from my kids’ point of view, is when I start scribbling down what they’re saying or doing, or, for that matter, what they aren’t doing and should be.
“Defamed anyone in your blog lately?” my friend’s husband asked the other night.
“No,” I said.
“Me,” said my husband.
“Her son,” said my friend.
I’m like that dating columnist on that reality show I watched who noted that it might be a turn off that she was making notes – and sometimes even pressing “record” on her iPhone – during dates. Except that I’m not a columnist. Or on a reality show. Or dating. I’m just a bored, former reporter, home with her kids.
“Why are you writing in that notebook every time I get up to go to the bathroom?” my 5-year-old daughter asked.
“Isn’t it great that mommy’s writing again?” I said, trying for spin. “Maybe someday, you’ll like to write, too.”
“I think I’ll write books,” Georgia answered.
But being demeaned by my 5-year-old is nothing compared to the very public demeaning I am doing to myself. You see, I have become a Facebook hoe. I brazenly “friend” anyone who appears on the side scroll of my profile page. I’ve started tweeting and was pleased to find that I had gained a follower, only to discover that it was a bedding and bath retail supply company.
I’m overtired and cranky, neglecting my kids and making very little headway in the blogosphere – and alienating all my real and imagined “friends.” For instance, while recently shooting a cordial “happy birthday” to a friend’s Facebook page, I hit a glitch. Instead of “waiting” like the screen told me to – not my strong suit – I kept pounding enter. My message posted about 16 times.
The worst part of all this is that I’ve also started obsessively checking my blog’s statistics. Just yesterday, I was delighted to find that I’d received more than 1,500 “pageviews.” But my excitement was tempered by the suspicion that my “Bananagram
” post had inadvertently snagged people who were searching for the game of the same name rather than for my sardonic take on suburban life.
Then I realized that I could capitalize on such search engine missteps. So, knowing the popularity of Internet porn – not directly, of course – I’ve decided to call this entry “Bare. Naked. Ladies.”
I’ll let you know if it works.