Social Media is fraught with peril! No, I’m not talking about predators lurking in chat rooms. Unfortunately, I’m at the age where I’m more likely to use the internet to solicit sex than the other way around. I’m talking about rejection.
Back in the early days of man, rejection could only take place face-to-face. This was humiliating because their weren’t very many people in your Mesopotamian hunter-gatherer village, and if someone gave you the cold shoulder basically everyone in your world knew it.
Next came Alexander Graham Bell, who made it possible to reach out and touch someone far away — ever increasing the potential for inter-human contact. He also made it possible for that person, maybe your granny, to hear the phone ring, sigh and think to herself “Does that boy always have to call during Jeopardy?” But back in those days not answering the phone was a game of Russian Roulette. You never knew who was calling or why. Maybe it was your grandson calling to ask for money again. Maybe it was Ed MacMahon calling from the outside your door with a giant check from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. You just had to take that chance.
That is until 1968 when rejection got a major boost from an unlikely source. Famous introvert and inventor Theodore George “Ted” Paraskevakos, plagued by aunts who wanted to know why he hadn’t yet married a nice Greek girl, created a device that would allow him to see the phone number of the person calling him …. and then not answer. Viola, the Caller ID was born.
The invention of the Caller ID is important because it is the ebb to the general flow of human communication. Throughout history, inventors have been trying to make the world smaller through the greater availability of reliable means of communications. Once new methods of communication have been pioneered, its up to really cloying people like me to get the world to say, “maybe we’ve gone too far this time.”
Which brings me to twitter. Twitter is basically a chat room that has become really cool and is only partially filled with perverts. I am a twitterer. I have tweeted (twat? Errr, no) over 200 mini-message mostly to no one. But what I’ve found to be most challenging is choosing who to follow. Initially I went at it like I was a kid with a tape worm at a Chinese buffet and found myself (yet again) heaving and sweaty from over consumption. I winnowed down the list I follow to mostly people I think are really funny or interesting writers/journalists/comedians, etc. I’ve really curated a list of what I believe to be twitter’s great cognoscenti. Being on my “following” list is really quite an honor. Unlike 44 million other people, I am not following Justin Bieber, and I choose to believe that fact makes me a discerning person of taste. Maybe its not the highest of thresholds, but its basically all I’ve got.
The problem is that the people I’m following don’t necessarily feel the same way about me. Twitter allows me to contact people in a way that AT&T wishes that it could charge for — and, based on the twitter IPO filing, Twitter wishes it could charge for. But when I reach out and touch someone, they rarely ever touch me back. And of course, I’m like feeling totally rejected that a senior writer for the Washington Post or Lena Dunham don’t think highly enough of the pithy remark that I tossed their way to respond.
But of course I didn’t just “toss a tweet” their way. I sat and agonized about how to maximize the hilarity to character ratio. Reached for the submit button, no, yes, no, ok its like no big deal, ok, no, then 30 minutes later submit. Gah what if they hate me. They obviously hated my tweet and now hate me.
Like how back in middle school, you would work up the nerve to sit at the cool kids table. You stand around with your square pizza and pudding cup, nervously eyeing the various options. Finally you try to squeeze your plastic tray into 3 inches of bench space only to everyone look at you and then immediately turn to face and face the other direction.
This still happens every time I go to a happy hour and try to interact with people with whom I have a 3rd degree connection on LinkedIn.
But the joke’s on them. They haven’t invented a caller ID for Twitter yet. And Until they do D-list celebrities better get used to having to ignore really incredibly clever tweets from a handsome stranger who only wants to ride their coattails to fame and fortune.