m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel

my head should be spinning as i grab a hold of this mesmerizing world of socializing through media, considering my advanced age.

but somehow, despite the consumption of time required and the challenge to come up with some intriguing content, for me, the biggest challenge is remembering all of my usernames and passwords!

now that’s something one of these whiz kids should invent an app for!

but back to the subject at hand.  social media.

first of all, i’m not a fan of that moniker: it isn’t very zippy or interesting.  it’s as drab a title (and as overused) as ‘the economy’.  as a creative with a bent for marketing and p.r., i say both of these could use some improvements.  look at how j c penney has gotten all cool as their mod thinkers have infused new life into an old brand with, among other things, a hip new logo, ellen and a hip monogrammed name.

so, social media, which for the purpose of this post, i will refer to as “icp” (internet cocktail party), seems to confound, confuse and trouble many people in the land.  how do i know this?  because this connundrum has spawned an entirely new education, conversation, publication, consternation, advocation!  a world of it’s own has landed firmly in our webby world which has the proven, decisive 1,2.3 steps that promise that elusive pot of gold at the end of the digital rainbow…or so they say.

for me, the few times i’ve delved a bit into some expert’s guidelines, i feel intellectually buried alive.  there’s a new way of language, something that is beginning to make me feel really uncomfortable: words that have absolutely no tangible reference, no sensory connection and to my left-brained audience, a strong feeling of disconnection. i just don’t seem to get the lingo!

it isn’t about technology.  i know that it all exists from magical wizardry involving northern california, a satellite, a bowl of chips, and the comcast man who comes by every now and then to replug and fiddle with the wires.

it isn’t about curiosity.  there’s a rich, vast, endlessly fascinating world literally beneath my fingertips (or voice, should i ever decide to start up a relationship with the girl who lives in my new iphone 4s).  digging like modern day, khaki-clad archaeologists, we all get to dig in like howard carter and the earl to make our own king tut-like discoveries.

it isn’t about affordability. i can manage (and would, if need be, go without food) to cover the cost of the wireless and unlimited data convenience so kindly provided by those conglomerates.

it isn’t about being ‘authentic’: for goodness sakes, who else would i be besides just me, myself, and my hair-brained who knows what i’m going to think or draw or say next self?

it isn’t about who’s on the other end of the line.  granted, we’re eons from the days of picking up the phone ala andy griffith or a good old british country manor mystery plot, tapping the line to get a hold of the operator in order to connect (ah, there’s an overused word for you!) to someone on the other side of wherever.  i like people, i love meeting them, staying in touch with them, communicating.  no matter what devices have come along during my lifetime, i’ll get accustomed to whatever buttons, bells and whistles are required in order to reach out and touch somebody’s hand.

no, what drives me a little dizzy is the assumption that anyone really needs to be taught how to do all of this socializing.

which brings me back to my icp approach.

we all know barbra’s iconic song, people, right?  we need each other, so the desire is there.  the gadgets are here.  rapidly piling up almost faster than we can say ‘alexander graham bell’, another zillion arrive at best buys, amazon and the apple store.  for me, ignoring the machination, and focusing on the people, is the only way to actually enjoy myself.

the icp is really a party.  it’s people.  scattered all over the globe.  there they are…out there somewhere.

my brain needs to visualize something tangible in order to make it through this vast electronic, digital world, so i have grounded the facts as follows:

each entity (fb, instagram, linkedin, twitter, tumblr, wordpress, et al into infinity) is really a collective cluster of eager, interesting guests gathered in a quite expansive lovely vintage hotel.  let’s even put it on the mediterranean.  anywhere you fancy, that’s where the party is happening.  up there on the mezzanine? it’s those cool cats from twitter, very few of them i’ve ever met, but gosh, they’re pretty insightful, have gobs of fascinating bon mots (they’re, none of them, long in the tooth), and i really want to catch their eye because they’re cool.  how to amuse them as they amuse me?  simple.  come up with a few of my own bon mots, too.

over with their elbows crowding around the polished mahogany bar?  it’s those wordpress guys and gals.  writers, lovers of writers, fans of writers, wanna be writers, expounding and dithering and emoting and i can just catch a few of the intriguing topics from way over here.  i’m compelled to hang out with them, too, but first, i don’t want to sound like dork, so i think i’ll share a witty little story of my own to draw them in.

outside, there’s a covered terrace looking out across the harbor, and crowding around a really big, ornate ashtray, i can just make out the faces of a few of the instagram shutterbugs.  always looking, snapping and sharing, there is a like-mindedness to this gang that gets what ‘composition, color and balance’ mean.  hey, i have a vintage pentax 35 mm camera…gosh, would i love to meet a few of them and swap stories.

see where this is going?

now, historically, i’ve eschewed ‘how to’ manuals of any kind.  my kids, just like me, don’t even know why manufacturers even bother including them with a shiny new product: we’ll just push a bunch of buttons until we’ve figured out how to work the thing.

in my world of writing, drawing, reading, photographing and socializing, i’ve never sought real guidance.  i’ve made my way, like poor audrey hepburn in the movie where she’s blind, hobbling along, feeling the walls around me, finding my way, getting where i need to be, for me.  comfortable, capable and content.

maybe it’s me: and i’m reminded of an exotic teacher who expounded to her design students, “there’s more than one way to get to marshal fields” (as, indeed, sadly, macy’s and history has left us with absolutely NO way to get to marshal fields!).  yes, there are countless methods, strategies, routes, transit lines to wind our way from here to there…to being a solo computer in a little room and somehow, floating easily and breezily on the internet highway.

call me stubborn, call me silly: but i’d just rather follow my gut and figure it all out by myself.

so, the trick is simply this: when you go to a cocktail party, put on a cute outfit, of course, then scour the room.  don’t be shy.  open up.  tell a story.  remember your manners.  say please and thank you.  pass the plate.  show interest in the people gathered and clustered and wandering about.  get to know them, listen and acknowledge.  encourage, laugh, enjoy, reach, share.

people, right?  people who need people…

now, refresh your drink and let’s hang out for a bit: this icp shows no sign of wearing down.

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