Monday, November 22, 2010

How To Communicate in the 21st Century

Just to prove that I am making progress in the real world... here is another story for my creative writing class. Please enjoy or tear to pieces, your choice.  :)

How To Communicate in the 21st Century

  Email. Instant messaging. Facebook. Texting. All things we didn’t really have ten years ago. And even if we did, it didn’t take over our lives as much as it does now. Sure, there was that 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film “You’ve Got Mail,” indicating the role email had in popular culture. The Internet Movie Database only gave it 6.3/10 stars though, so I think we can safely strike that from our conversation.
 Okay, sure, I guess we’re not really participating in a conversation now, are we? I’m simply typing out words that I hope will make you smile. That’s what you should do when you text. Wait. Re-read the last message you received over and over again, hoping it will reveal some sort of cryptic message that you didn’t pick up in the last twenty-two times. Then check your last sent message to see if you actually sent it. Over-analyze what you wrote and wonder if you should have added an emoticon. Things like “I’m going to kill you :)” are a bit lighter than “I’m going to kill you.” Wonder if the person on the other end is emotionally immature because they don’t understand that you didn’t really intend to kill them. You are just a 135-pound white girl.
  Another great thing to do is bring up things you texted about in everyday conversation as if it were a quote from “The Office” or something. And when the person in question that you were texting says, “Huh?” you should probably explain it in great detail. This will jog the person’s memory and make you look cooler than ever before. This is also fun to do at parties. Explain it to the people that weren’t a part of the text exchange. They will probably think you tell good stories.
 It’s definitely a good idea to text other people while you’re at said party. Let other people know that you made a fool out of yourself. When they don’t respond right away, sulk into a corner, sit down and cross your legs. Rest your head on your palm, as if you are awaiting news from the Pope. When people look at you quizzically and ask, “Why aren’t you at the party?” say, “I’m talking to someone important right now.” When they start to ask “Who?” hold up your finger and say, “Hold on...” and pretend that they are calling you. Get up and start walking around with one hand over your ear and the other holding the phone.
 When you get home, you should change your Facebook status to, “ crunk tonight!” even though you don’t really like alcohol. People will think you are street smart if you say things like “crunk.” They will think that maybe you have friends from different cultures and that it’s okay for you to use such nuanced phrases. When people “Like” your status, click on their page and assess whether or not you are cooler than they are. If so, browse their pictures and see what sorts of things they do. Also, read about their interests and favorite music. Go listen to the bands you haven’t heard of and plan to do something cool like this person does. Go to a hippie music festival and walk around without shoes. Bring a hula hoop and wear a crochet top. Go to a jazz club. It seems like being cool revolves around music no one listens to.
    You should also try to remember as many people from the party that you can so you can request them as friends. That way, people will think, “Wow, she must be well-liked.” This will also give you more material for your specialized “creeping.” Find out about as many people as you can so that way, when you see them, you can bring up nonchalant interests that you both have in common. Say things like, “These guys remind me of Au Revoir Simone.” When the guy you’re talking to says, “Why would you say that? These guys sound nothing like Au Revoir Simone. Au Revoir Simone is an all-girl’s band” say that you were just thinking abstractly. Take a mental note, so as not to make another similar faux pas in the future.
    If you are ever to send an email, which really, is becoming almost obsolete nowadays unless for official and timely business, such as setting up meetings or asking questions about assignments, try to remember proper etiquette. Think about whom you are sending the email. Try to imagine how they would form an email. If it’s official, say to a teacher or boss, address them in the most respectful way you deem fit. Do not type, “Dear Dragon Lady...” and then delete it once you decide how to start your message. Sometimes you will forget to hit delete.
  Keep your messages short and to the point, but try not to be too sterile. Try to add your own voice but don’t inject too much personality. Your superiors hate it when you have a personality. Especially in emails. They will think, “Who does this person think they are getting an attitude in their email?” And this my friend, is a severe disadvantage. You should instead try to say something like, “Professor Jones, I was unsure of which pages you assigned for homework. You mentioned page 437 but also page 525. Could you please clarify? Thanks.” Mentioning those page numbers makes it seem like you were paying attention in class even though you were on Facebook the whole time. Your professor will appreciate the extra effort.
    For the most part, you will not be sending email to friends. With the advent of Facebook and texting, email is merely the “snail mail” of the electronic world. Believe me, everyone will be checking their phone or Facebook before they check an email. But if you so choose to kick it old school, try to be cordial and memorable, since you are kind of wasting the person’s time. If it hadn’t been for your message, they could have put check marks in all the little boxes and deleted all the junk. Also, make sure you have a point but don’t make it too important because it might go unanswered and the person will feel bad once they get it a few months later. Don’t feel bad. They have a lot going on in their life.
  If you happen to be in middle school, God forbid, you might want to take up the habit of instant messaging. You can create a screen name that really shows what kind of person you are like, “Stargirl574569064” or “1997mYsOuLbLeEdSbLaCk1997.” Find it interesting that other people out there have souls that bleed black who were born in 1997 too. Ask people if they will be chatting after school. Think about forming a chat room where you talk about how totally cute Justin Beiber is and how you are so going to be Mrs. Beiber one day. Use an abundance of emoticons and create a profile for yourself that showcases your favorite quotes. Try to think of something interesting that sets you apart from everyone else. Roll your eyes when people ask who John Lennon is.
  You might use Facebook chat as a form of instant messaging once in awhile. Use the “Hide” feature when that crazy girl from high school is on and wants to talk about her cat. Wait until that little green light appears next to the name of the guy you like and become suddenly “visible.” Ask him what his plans are for the weekend. Hint about the movie you want to go see and how you’re not busy on Sunday. Send him your phone number so you can begin texting and overanalyzing everything that is said. Try to maintain an air of mystery and say you must go once plans are confirmed. This will also help you make a swift exit from the electronic perils of the Cat Lady.
    There will be times in your life when you have to use a telephone. You already have a cell phone for texting so you kind of get the idea. A telephone is this thing you hold up to your ear and sometimes sounds come out. You can also talk into this device. Oftentimes, you’ll have to use the telephone to make appointments at the doctor’s office or to call the bank when an unusual purchase at the “Horse Shack” appears on your credit card statement. Usually you can just have your mom do it but the bank will typically want to talk to you personally since you’re over 18 and all. Unless you’re not 18, in which case see the above descriptions about instant messaging.
  If you’re in the real world and you’re not busy speaking with your fingers, try not to use texting/Facebook/IM lingo. If someone says something funny, don’t say, “LOL” because you are laughing-out-loud and it will cause people to look at you with furrowed brows. Also, please refrain from using “LMAO,” “ROFL,” or “BRB” vocally. Even if you’re just saying these things ironically, people won’t understand. People will call you a tool. Tools don’t get invited to cool parties that people talk about in their Facebook status. It’s the twenty-first century. People do not understand irony. Go easy on them.
    Sometimes you are faced with near-death situations, i.e. your cell phone battery dies or your laptop is at home. Have no fear. There is a simple solution to this conundrum. But please, and I do beg please, proceed with caution. If this task is not carried out by proper procedure, it could lead to a catastrophic undertaking of mythic proportions. Look around at the world. The people. The trees. Notice things. Smell the wind. Taste the sun. Take a walk. Do anything interactive.
    Here comes the hard part. When you see someone you know, it’s tempting to look down and pretend to be texting. You don’t know what to say to them in real life. Texting is this fantasy world where you can think about what you say before you send it. Facebook is this world where you can take pictures of yourself at really strange angles or in sepia tone to hide traces of acne. You can be publicly interested in only the most “hipster” of things. You don’t have to tell people that you love Ghost Whisperer. Look this person in the eye, and yes indeed, this is suspiciously simple, say, “Hello.” Have a conversation. Ask questions. Smile. Laugh. Realize that you might actually enjoy this.

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