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Category Archives: social media

How to make enemies and alienate people

We’ve discussed here before how to win social media, both on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the advice boils down to Wheaton’s Law, which is:

Surprisingly, this is very, very difficult for a lot of people. I’m not sure if this is because they truly like being dickish, or they don’t REALIZE they’re being dickish, or it’s too hard to think, so therefore they just say whatever crosses their minds the minute they sit down at a keyboard…but whatever the reason is, the dicks seem to outnumber the people with something real and helpful to say online, most specifically in the comment sections.

Most people I know are, for good reason, aware that if you read an article online, you don’t, under any circumstances, read the comment section. Why? Well. Because here be dragons, of course.

For every kind, helpful and relevant comment online, you have to wade through people being racist, sexist, or just downright weird, and it starts to turn your stomach and despair for the human race.

But what about if you CAN’T avoid the comments? What if it’s your job to be the one to POLICE the comments?

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLTICIAN EVER!

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLITICIAN EVER!

One of the aspects of my current job is social media. Five days a week, I’m in charge of the work Facebook page and Twitter account (along with my other multitudinous tasks, of course. I’m a busy bee. But I am a HAPPY busy bee, so there’s that, then.) I not only schedule the posts our readers see, I’m in charge of reading their comments for a few reasons – to see what they’re saying (it might come in handy in the future); to see if there are problems (sometimes they tell us about typos/errors in the article or on the site, which we can hopefully quickly fix); and to make sure things aren’t getting off-topic or squirrelly.

Things often get off-topic and squirrelly.

Twitter isn’t bad, only because people in this area don’t use Twitter as much as I wish they did. (It’s a great resource for a newspaper – we can get the news out almost immediately and have a constant stream of it going to our readers. It just hasn’t taken off around here like it has in more populated regions. I think it will, eventually; we’re just late adopters.) The people who follow us on Twitter are respectful and polite, for the most part, and I never feel like I’m wading into The Princess Bride‘s Fire Swamp when I check our Twitter page.

fireswamp

The Facebook page, however, is a very different beast.

Now, please don’t go into this thinking I don’t appreciate – and even enjoy – a vast majority of our commenters. We’d be nowhere without our readers, and I love that they’re out there and paying attention.

It’s the fringe contingent that worries me. And keep me busy hiding their comments. And sometimes shaking my head and thinking, “oh, I don’t…oh, oh no.”

SO. For those people, I’d like to give you a quick list of pointers. You are very quick to complain when your comments disappear, vocally and angrily; you are very quick to shout “CENSORSHIP!” and “THANKS, OBAMA!” when you think you’ve been silenced. Hopefully, this will help you navigate the waters of our social media more successfully.

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK ON PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

  • Watch your language. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Facebook has a helpful function for those of us that moderate a public page. We can choose to have comments with swear words immediately hidden, so only we can see them. We very much utilize this function, as we have every intention of being a public page, and the last thing we want is some hapless child stumbling upon you cussing the hell out of a news story. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Good grief, yo.
  • Stay on topic. Of course, there’s leeway here. I’m not saying there’s one path to greatness, people. But if we put up a post about, say, a fundraiser picnic, and you start rambling on about how angry you are that there are so many mosquitoes this year and there’s no global warming because of that LIAR AL GORE!, that’s just confusing and you might be a conspiracy-crazy. I’m not saying I’m blocking it, but people are going to think you’re a looney.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

  • Remember: since it’s a public page, everyone on your timeline, as well as anyone in the world, can see what you’ve said, and hover over your icon and see your profile. It’s just the way Facebook is set up, my little chickadees. You give up your anonymity when you comment on a public page. If you’ve got your page locked down, when they go to look at you, they won’t see much…but you’re still not anonymous. Your name is there. EVERYONE NOW KNOWS YOUR NAME. And your comment shows up in your friends’ newsfeed. I have a friend of a friend who’s very involved with commenting on social media sites. Every time he comments on our paper, my friend says, “I see So-and-So commented on your work Facebook page again!” Everyone’s seeing what you say. Keep that in mind when you comment. If you’re not being a jerk, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, however…well, your mom’s probably seeing that (assuming your mom has Facebook. My mom doesn’t. I’m one of the lucky few.) Do you want your mom seeing that? Are you sure?
  • Personal insults? Really? What grade are you in? We have had to take down entire posts because people randomly started insulting the other commenters, the people in the article, random politicians (seriously, if I never see another non-ironic “THANKS, OBAMA!” it’ll be too soon), and, in one weird thread, God. (Yes, some guy started really insulting God, like, over and over. SO MAD AT GOD.) That counts as off-topic, and it counts as just downright mean, people. STOP IT. I get it. You are filled with all of the hatred. You are ready to explode like a hatred volcano. Sometimes *I* am the target of the hatred volcano. Sometimes my beloved coworkers who wrote the articles are (and it takes every bit of my precarious self-control to not respond with a very biting “WE ARE RUBBER YOU ARE GLUE!” rebuttal, because when it comes to my coworkers, I am such a Momma Bear.) But if you go too far, I’m hiding your comments, buckaroo. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like the idea that people are walking around with a stomachache because someone was mean to them for no reason on our social media. Make a new plan, Stan, and screw off home.

    Oh, is THIS who's to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

    Oh, is THIS who’s to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

  • Why you gotta be so dirty? SO MUCH NAUGHTINESS. I’m immediately hiding your comments saying female politicians got to where they are “on their knees” or that the local taco place sells “fish tacos that remind me of my ex-girlfriend.” Seriously? What are you hoping to accomplish with this comment? Like, cracking up your friends with a “HEE HEE DIRTY COMMENT ON A PUBLIC SITE?” or “UNGH I AM SO SEXY THIS IS LIKE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL FOR *EVERYONE*!” I don’t even know. I have ALMOST the least tolerance for this. The LEAST tolerance is saved for…
  • On my watch? No racist, sexist, homophobic comments. Not going to happen. Don’t even try. And if they happen when the other people I work with are on social media, I’ll sometimes randomly check and hide your comments EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT WORKING. Yeah, you heard me right. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS, I DO THAT SHIT FOR FREE, YO. You don’t get to have a public forum to spew your hatred. Sorry. I know, right, FREE SPEECH? Well, we run the page, and you lost your right to free speech when you commented on it. We have the right to moderate. And until the day my fingers fall off, I will not allow you to put hate speech on our site.
  • Acting too cool for school is actually the stupidest thing ever. We get a lot of “who cares?” or “slow news day” comments. Did you really take time out of your day to write that? Actual time you could have been spending on something else? YOU obviously care, because you took that time out of your day. And no, it’s not a “slow news day.” There’s no such thing. If we posted the article, we think someone can benefit from reading it; if it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe…oh, I don’t know, don’t feel like you have to comment? It’s not like you have to comment on everything. No! Really! You don’t have to! I know, freeing, right?
  • Maybe spell/grammar check? I’m a little more stringent about this than others. I hate ALL typos. It’s what I do for a living; you can’t really blame me. Most people don’t care if you make a few. But I’m talking about the people who write a comment like “For teh all people eat fodo there waffles, good yunger.” I don’t…what does this mean? Do you even know what it means? Is it a puzzle? If I solve it, what do I win? (Is it waffles? That’s a worthy prize. I’ll take it.)
  • Don’t try to sell me a car. We randomly get a Ugandan businessman who spams about 15 of our posts with a huge long “CARS FOR SALE!” comment. We block him; he comes back in another incarnation about a month later. We’re going to keep blocking you, buddy. No one wants your used Buicks. And how would they even GET here from Uganda? Logistical nightmare.

These all seem common sense, right? Yeah, you’d be surprised. If you’re looking at the comment section of a public site, know that most likely, even though your blood pressure is up? Most of the worst comments HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAKEN DOWN. I know. Humbling, right?

So the next time you’re going to comment on a public page, take a deep breath, think, “Is this a dick move? Should I do this? Am I building someone up, or knocking someone down? Do I have a valid point? Is there even any REASON for me to make this comment?” If you can answer all of your questions and still look yourself in the eye in the mirror…you are welcome! Comment away! If not…maybe start a blog where you can say what you want, with no fear of The Powers That Be shutting you down.

...or you'll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don't want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

…or you’ll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don’t want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

And, to those of you with actual, helpful, intelligent comments to make? THANK YOU. You make my day/month/year. Keep on keepin’ on, you guys. You make what we do worthwhile.

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A new year post on the actual day. Go me.

Happy new year, people of the interwebs! OK, so I missed New Year’s day for some of you. I know. I’m the worst at thinking in a timely fashion for other time zones. Please forgive me, other time zones. Here is a photo of Dumbcat looking pensive to make up for my transgression.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire and get soceel securtee so Momee can stay homee and pet my furrs all the dayys.

A couple weeks ago at work, one of my most favorite coworkers (there are a lot of them…I kind of work with the best people in all the land) and I were talking about blogging. Here, I’ll give you our conversation. If he happens to read this (and I suppose he might, the internet’s a very small place sometimes), apologies in advance for stealing your words and putting them on the internets for all to read, one of my most favorite coworkers whose name I will not put on the blog because I’m about 99% sure it would embarrass the pants right off of you and I enjoy you so much I would never want to do that to you. Plus, also, workplace harassment, yo, I can’t be taking work-people’s pants off. I think there’s a seminar or something about that.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick's face. It's like she's oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she's looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don't even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick’s face. It’s like she’s oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she’s looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don’t even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

Impressive Reporter Coworker: So I noticed the other day you’re a tweetaholic. You have over 20,000 tweets!
Me: Oh. Yeah. I used to tweet a lot. I don’t do that anymore.
IRC: Why?
Me: Oh, kind of a long story. I used to blog? And then tweet a lot, kind of in relation to that? I kind of fell out of practice.
IRC: You had a blog?
Me: Yeah. I kind of still do, I guess, but it just sits there.
IRC: What was it about?
Me: Um. Mostly me ranting about some things and making fun of other things? Also I talked about zoos a lot.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-Proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

IRC: And people would read it?
Me: Heh. Yeah. Lots of people would read it. I won some awards. And I met amazing people. And I went to Finland last year. Got to stay with people I met through blogging, actually. It was fantastic.
IRC: So…what happened?

And I didn’t have an answer for him. Not really.

What happened? Oh, I don’t know. Life, I guess. Andreas and I have spent copious amounts of time discussing that. Priorities change. Things change. People come in and out of your life. Moods rise and fall. Jobs come and go. I can most sincerely say that the person I was three and a half years ago when I started blogging isn’t the person I am now. I think back on that person and she seems like a complete stranger to me. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of her; it’s that I don’t know her at all, and I don’t know how I ever was her. I have a record that I was, I can look back on old posts and I know I wrote them, but as for remembering it, it’s kind of fuzzy. Too much water under the bridge.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…and I realize there’s this itchy little part of me that wants to start writing again, and writing more. Otherwise I’m going to probably self-destruct.

I’m not juvenile enough to think resolutions ever stick. The first day of the year always seems so shiny and new, doesn’t it? Like you can accomplish anything. Like you have 365 days of newness (ooh, 366 this year, yeah?) to tackle and make your own. But I don’t know about you…but every resolution I’ve ever made has fizzled around February once you realize “oh, look, this shiny new year is very much like last year, what are the odds, yo.”

Instead, I’m going to be kind to myself, and promise myself I’ll do things that are good for me – and writing’s good for me. So writing here? Good for me. Writing poetry, essays, maybe even some short fiction? Good for me. And it’s good for my mind, because I need it to stop being so itchy. An itchy mind never did anyone any good.

(Side note: I have an amazing job, and every now and then I get to write. I got to write part of an article – FOR THE ACTUAL PAPER! – a couple months ago, and then got asked to write a LONG article for one of our related publications. A three-page article about traveling to Albany and all the things you can do there. It’s not online yet – will be eventually, and then you can read it, if you’re so inclined – but long story short, I get to write for work. I also get to do our social media, copyedit, proofread, and sometimes there’s totally a STOP THE PRESSES! moment with late-breaking news which makes me jump around in my chair because I feel like I’m in a 40s film with very impressive fedoras. My coworkers are fantastic, because they’ve totally accepted me even though I’m the biggest goofball. And I can say, with 100% certainty, I’ve never had a job where I can be more myself, and where I’ve felt more immediately at home with the people, than this one. Ever. When you can completely dork out about something three days in and no one even bats an eye? You have won employment.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I'm in "His Girl Friday" only there's a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I’m in “His Girl Friday” only there’s a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

I’m kind of rambling, here.

Anyway: I have a couple of people I’m going to encourage to blog, and they’re going to, in turn, encourage ME to blog, this year, so we’re responsible to one another as well as being cheerleady. And this will, hopefully, stop the brain-itching and get me back writing and being creative.

Happy New Year, internets. I hope your 2014s weren’t as fraught with weirdness as mine was (and most people I know had a TERRIBLE 2014, what’s going on, 2014, why were you so cursed?) and your 2015 looks like 366 (or 365, sorry, people of other time zones, I really meant to do this earlier in the day but I was too busy painting a unicorn head to go over my new fireplace…YES THAT IS REALLY A THING I DID TODAY, WHY ARE YOU ASKING) new and shiny days of awesome that you can tackle and wrestle into submission and make yours, all yours.

This is my unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don't have a name for him yet, but I'm leaning toward Reginald von Sparklenstein.

This is my new unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don’t have a name for him yet, but I’m leaning toward Baron Reginald von Sparklenstein.

Much love to your shiny little new-year faces. *smooch*


Eark? What’s an eark?

It was a very long day off for me today. You would THINK that would involve more loafing, but really I did a million billion things. I even made a LIST of things to do. And have checked off almost everything on the list. A couple things fell through the cracks but I try not to beat myself up too much about such a thing. I’m too old to hate on myself.

Let’s talk about technology, shall we? In particular: Facebook. And: Amy’s Brother.

Now, Amy’s Brother does not get discussed much here because Amy’s Brother is not a fan of the interwebs. Or of technology. Amy’s Brother likes things like four-wheelers and the woods and hunting for furry animals with guns. (Or also feathery animals. When it comes to shooting things, fur or feathers! We do not discriminate.) Amy’s Brother is also quite intelligent, however, and knows many large words and watches intelligent television. So I guess he’s kind of like an enigma.

This is how much Amy's Brother trusts the interwebs. Meaning: zero.

This is how much Amy’s Brother trusts the interwebs. Meaning: zero.

Amy’s Brother never had a cellphone. Well, he DID, but that was a long time ago. When he moved to my parents’ town, he got rid of the cell phone. I think he might have had a Tracfone that didn’t text. We don’t talk much. Not out of hatred, just because we don’t. We live very different lives.

About a month ago, my dad sent me an email saying “your brother wants your number am i allowd to give it to him or do you thikn he is a kiler?” (I might have made up some of of those misspellings. But Dad does not use a lot of capital letters in email. I think he’s saving them for a rainy day.) See, for a while, Dad was giving my phone number or email address to everyone in the land, including SOME OF MY DIREST ENEMIES. So we had a serious talk called, “Dad, you have to ask before you just give out my personal information; I need to know I’m not going to get a phone call I dread in my house, which is my safe place. It’s why I have an unlisted number.” Dad actually LISTENED to me for once (I think that’s because I used my MOST SERIOUS VOICE) and has been very careful (some might say overly careful) ever since. So yes, he emailed me to ask if it was ok to give my number to my only sibling.

"Who gave you this number? Who? DAD! STOP GIVING MY NUMBER TO CREEPERS!"

“Who gave you this number? Who? DAD! STOP GIVING MY NUMBER TO CREEPERS!”

I said, “yes, here’s my cell number and email address he can use, but why would he want my number, doesn’t he have it?” and what he wanted was my CELL PHONE NUMBER. What? Why?

“your borther has texting now on his celphone” said Dad.

So a few days passed and I got a random text with a photo of my brother standing on a stump with a gun and a wolf near him? So I texted back and said, “I’m going to hope this is you, bro, otherwise someone’s sending me photos of you with a wild animal” and when I asked my dad, “Um. Why’s there a wolf?” Dad explained that my brother has a friend with a pet wolf. I find that suspect. I like wolves so so much, but I don’t think they’re pets any more than crocodiles or tigers are pets. Stop thinking wild animals are pets, yo.

Right after this photo was taken, this wolf ate this woman's face. Probably. I'd guess, anyway.

Right after this photo was taken, this wolf ate this woman’s face. Probably. I’d guess, anyway.

But Amy’s Brother did not text me back but then my dad said, “Your brother’s been trying to email you but YOU GAVE US A FALSE EMAIL” and I said “Why would I give you a false email address?” and Dad said “I DO NOT KNOW” and then come to find out that what my brother thought was a “1” was a lowercase “l” and then Dad yelled at me for trying to trick people. You know. As I do.

Mostly after the yelling stopped I said, “WHEN DID MY BROTHER GET EMAIL?”

Apparently he got a LAPTOP recently and HAS EMAIL NOW. Good gracious.

So I convinced Dad to give me my brother’s email address so I could email HIM first so I DID and then I waited and waited and then he finally wrote back but it was a very short email and then he said “this very short electronic transmission took me 35 minutes to type” and that made me laugh.

Amy’s Brother is not the best at emailing. He only wrote to me one time.

But THEN, the other morning when I woke UP, I had a notification on my phone.

“Amy’s Brother added you as a friend on Facebook.”

HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HELL?

HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HELL?

WHAT IS THIS BLACK MAGIC? My brother HATES Facebook. And you know what he thinks of the Internet People. He thinks you are all rapists. Or people with one hand. RAPISTS OR PEOPLE WITH ONE HAND!

So I friended my brother. Of course I did. Who doesn’t friend their brother?

Then I realized, yay, photos of The Nephew I hadn’t seen! Then I realized, oh, those photos and everything on his timeline is public so ALL THE RAPISTS WITH ONE HAND ARE LOOKING AT THE NEPHEW RIGHT NOW!

(I’m weird about Facebook privacy settings. I lock my shit down. I’m even weird about commenting on public pages, because then everyone can see you. I know. Leave me alone.)

This is the creepiest thing I have ever seen.

This is the creepiest thing I have ever seen.

So I emailed my brother. “Dear brother. Listen to your sister and mark everything friends only or at least friends of friends because right now you have everything public and that means pervs. I don’t think you want that. I love your face.”

Apparently his friend who got him on Facebook was all “PSHAW!” so he was going to leave it alone until my mom and dad were all “LISTEN TO YOUR SISTER SHE LIVES ON THE INTERNET!” so he actually called my phone and left me a voicemail all “Apparently we need to talk about privacy settings? Because I don’t know what that means. So call me when you get home. But not now. I am going to sleep now. Because I was up all night on the internet.”

Hee! It sucked him in. SUCKED! HIM! IN!

So I called him when I got home. Now this is kind of groundbreaking because my brother and I have talked on the phone probably 10 times in our LIVES. I know some of you people are super-close to your siblings. I am not. It is a sad point in my life. So I was kind of as nervous as if it was a blind date. But, you know, without the naughtytalk.

So we talked – and I am not kidding – for AN HOUR AND A HALF. I had to eat dinner while we were on the phone. It wasn’t all about the Book of Faces. We talked about The Nephew and my brother’s life and all the things. It was actually kind of nice. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I might have gotten a little emotional. Because I like having a sibling. I’d like it even more if I talked to him more like people do.

So we FINALLY got to the Facebook stuff. Things I told my brother:

  • how to set all his future posts to “friends only”
  • how to retroactively set his posts and photos to “friends only”
  • how to block people, if he needs to do so

His response to these things:

  • Good
  • Good
  • Why would I block anyone? I can’t imagine that would ever be a thing I would need to do. (Aw, little brother. You live in such a happy rainbow land. I wish I was there with you. I have QUITE a block list going on.)

My most laughy moment happened when I was trying to explain to him the difference between “public” and “private.”

Me: So if your post has a little Earth at the bottom, it’s public, but if it has a little man, or a man with a man over his shoulder, it’s friends or friends of friends.

EARK!

EARK!

Brother: What’s an Eark?
Me: An Earth? It’s…I don’t know. An Earth. You know. Earth?
Brother: Eark?
Me: Earth? Like the planet? We live on? Planet Earth?
Brother: OH. EARTH.
Me: What the hell did you think I was saying?
Brother: Eark.
Me: Why would I say Eark? Eark isn’t even a word.
Brother: I thought it was like the sound a car makes if you brake too hard. EARK!
Me: Yes. Facebook puts a photo of you braking too hard next to their posts that everyone can see. Because that makes a lot of sense.

Also, added bonus content: what Amy’s Brother thinks of Facebook!

“Facebook is confusing. But also awesome. I have like ONE HUNDRED FRIENDS. I am friends with people from COLLEGE and SCHOOL and from when I lived out WEST and ALL THE PEOPLE. And I am TALKING to the people! And they are talking to me! But it takes up a lot of TIME. You have to approve all the friend requests. And answer everyone’s comments. And post a lot of photos. And look at things people have on their pages. How do you people keep up with all of this?”

I told him after a while, you learn to ignore it most of the time, and it’s really only super-exciting for the first couple months or so. After that, it’s just a thing you have, like a phone, or the clap.

“What do you do about all the emails?” my brother asked.

“What emails?”

“The millions of emails Facebook sends you. I can’t even find my REAL email because I have like 100 emails from Facebook. How do you deal with this?”

“I turned off the email function.”

Get outta here, emails.

Get outta here, emails.

“YOU CAN DO THAT?!”

So I then taught him how to do that. He was pleased.

“How many friends do YOU have?” Brother asked.

“I don’t let anyone see that. I don’t feel it’s anyone’s business.”

“I’m not anyone. Do you have more or less than me?”

“More right now. But at the rate you’re going, you’ll beat me soon.”

“You’ve been on Facebook forever. Why don’t you have more friends?”

“Because I mostly hate people?”

“Oh. Well, that makes sense, I suppose.”

Then we got off the phone and he called me a little later VERY UPSET because even though he followed my directions to the letter, his photos were still showing up to his friend who has “a number of secret accounts that no one knows about in other people’s names.”

“Well, first, tell him that’s totally shady and ask him why he’s being a creeper. And second, what photos are showing up?”

We ascertained it was the photos he had used for his profile and cover photo, and I explained those were ALWAYS public, and everything else was fine.

“How do I make it so no one sees what you wrote on my wall and people can’t ‘like’ what you wrote?”

“You can’t. That’s just Facebook.”

“What? PEOPLE CAN SEE ALL OF THIS?”

“OMG, yes. You didn’t know that?”

“I thought it was like MAIL.”

“Heh, no. If you want mail, you click on that little cartoon bubble in the middle left up there.”

“Oh, someone sent me a message in there, but I didn’t know why she didn’t just write it on my wall.”

“Because she wanted it to be private and she knows how Facebook works.”

“Ah,” said my brother, who may be finally understanding that, for once, his big sister is a handy resource for something.

He also gave me the following VERY EXPLICIT WARNING:

“Some people are friends on Facebook with people they don’t even KNOW! Can you imagine? Isn’t that CRAZY? If you were ever friends with anyone like that, you should unfriend them. Because you don’t know. They could be KILLERS.”

I looked up "internet killers" on image search and this came up and I've been laughing for like twenty minutes.

I looked up “internet killers” on image search and this came up and I’ve been laughing for like twenty minutes.

“So if I haven’t met them, I don’t know them?”

“Yes, of course.”

“If I unfriended all the people I haven’t met, I’d have like half the friend list. And I know those people just fine. And sometimes I meet them and they’re lovely. I met my friend from Finland in New York City last month.”

“That doesn’t make sense. He’s in FINLAND and was in NEW YORK CITY? Something doesn’t add up here.”

“He was in New York for business. People do such things.”

Brother was skeptical. “Dad says you are GOING to Finland.”

“Yep. Going there next summer.”

“Hmm. Well, I guess maybe SOME of them aren’t killers.”

He didn’t sound like he believed it, though.

SO! This has been a very event-filled week. Amy’s Brother has discovered the interwebs! I told him it was only a matter of time before he started tweeting and blogging and Instagramming and he said “I would ask what’s wrong with you but I’ve known you a long time and I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that.” I didn’t ask what that meant.

So, if anyone asks you if pigs flew this week, you can say yes. Yes, they did. I know. It’s hard to believe, but the future has caught up to my brother. Now, if we could only get Amy’s Dad off dialup…

…OK, I guess some of those pigs are still grounded. You can’t expect MIRACLES, people.

(Psst, the calendar informs me today is Eark Day. HAPPY EARK DAY. If you’re going to stop quickly, be sure the roadway is not slippery or you could slide into someone. What? What’s that? It’s EARTH Day? Oh. Dammit. Nevermind. Recycle or something. Carry on.)


37 More Days

This is a very exciting post. I asked for, and was granted, permission to talk about THE MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER.

I could probably drag this all out and make it totally the most SUSPENSEFUL, right? That’s what a real writer would do.

I’ve never purported myself to be a real writer, yo.

What’s one of the saddest sadnesses in my life? Anyone? ANYONEEEEEE?

If you guessed “my internet people who I love more than pudding – MORE! THAN! PUDDING! – are so far away and it makes me sad that I’m so close to them yet I might never meet them in real life,” you are CORRECT.

(None of you guessed that, did you. Shame on you. Shaaaaaaaame.)

So, here’s me cutting to the chase, because I don’t know how to build up suspense.

Three days ago, in the midst of emailing about a billion other things, as we do, I got this sentence in an email from my beloved Andreas:

In other news, I might be able to go to New York for a few days as they hold a Web developer conference there end of February. Emphasis on ‘might’, mind you; nothing is decided yet.

I think you can imagine, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, what my response to this was. There were a lot of all-caps. And a lot of exclamation points. A LOT of them. A lot of both. Even though I KNOW not to count chickens. I attempted not to be excited. That worked out…well, not at all. I was so excited, you guys.

Andreas has never been to the States. Not even once. This would be his first time. And he would be coming to my favorite city in the whole wide world. Which, in a fortuitous turn of events, is only about two and a half hours away from my home.

*sigh*

*sigh*

I attempted not to bounce all around in my chair with excitement. It was not successful.

DO NOT COUNT CHICKENS, AMY!

So the ORIGINAL plan was that Andreas was coming to attend a three-day conference in the city (and can we just give a cheer that Andreas works for such a kickass company that they FLY EMPLOYEES FROM FINLAND TO THE STATES FOR CONFERENCES? Good gracious! I’m used to working places that drag their feet reimbursing you for trips across TOWN, although I’m pretty sure where I work now would totally send you wherever, because they are the most awesome) and I would only get to see him for a few hours, because there were only so many seminars at the conference he could skip out on, since his employer was, after all, flying him across the WORLD to attend the damn thing. I didn’t care. I have a job with time off, I have money to travel now, and the idea of seeing Andreas for even a few hours in really real life made me not ONLY bop all around in my chair with happy excitement, it also made me a little teary. Good teary, don’t get all worried about my mental stability.

So we talked and talked all day about the possibility of this trip but of course it wasn’t sure. Then the next day I got this:

I talked to one of my colleagues. If – and I still haven’t had the trip confirmed – I am to go to New York, we would be staying all of Saturday as well, and fly back on Sunday. So I’d be sitting there with nothing to do all day. Unless you wouldn’t mind coming down to New York for the Saturday? Then I’d ditch my colleagues and spend the day with you instead. I’m guessing most of New York is open even on Saturdays? Hopefully I’ll know more by tomorrow.

WHAT? A whole DAY with Andreas? Well! THIS WAS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER!!! Also, I like how this whole paragraph is like a little trick. “Oh, I mean, unless YOU might want to come down for the day to YOUR FAVORITE CITY EVER and meet ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE IN ALL THE WORLD, otherwise I’ll just be SO SO BORED *sob*.”

(Also, don’t worry, I assured Andreas that New York City was open for business on Saturdays. Except maybe office buildings. And I can’t imagine we would want to go to many of those, anyway.)

So you think I was excited at the possibility of a few HOURS with Andreas? Imagine what my reaction was to A WHOLE DAY OF ADVENTURE WITH MY FAVORITE FINN!

But still: no chicken-counting. We were still waiting to hear from his boss to hear if he could come at all. And you all KNOW I am not the most patient.

*drumming fingers impatiently*

YESTERDAY I GOT THIS EMAIL YOU GUYS!!!!

Just got it confirmed that I can go to New York. Tickets will be booked tomorrow, and I’ll sort out a more up to date passport and an ESTA form tomorrow as well.

So unless something extraordinary happens I should be all set to go. *gulp*

(The ESTA form is a form Andreas has to fill out in order to come to Merka. It asks such questions as – and I am not even kidding, Andreas told me and he’s not even the least bit liary – “do you have leprosy?” and “are you now or were you ever a member of Hitler’s Third Reich?” and “are you now or were you ever involved in espionage?” When I told my dad that last one, he laughed SO HARD. “Well, your Finnish spy friend’s going to have to lie about that one,” he said. Also, who’s going to say “yes” to any of those questions if they really want to come to Merka, I ask you? I don’t think criminals are that foolish, to be honest. At least not the GOOD criminals.)

Maybe don't bring your huge magnifying glass to the airport, Andreas, that's a dead giveaway.

Maybe don’t bring your huge magnifying glass to the airport, Andreas, that’s a dead giveaway.

I don’t think this post would be complete if you didn’t get to see my real-time response to the reveal that Andreas was really, Eddie-Murphy-style, coming to America. It’s…well, it’s what you’d expect from me. (I was told last week “you text and email just like you talk.” I took much pride in that statement. Because it’s true. I totally do. I like that I don’t compromise.)

OMG ANDREAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m totally going to get to meet you in really real life!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m bouncing all over my chair right now. I’m not even kidding. I scared the cat.

So, Saturday, March 2. I will ask for that day off from my part-time job when I go to work on Saturday and buy train tickets as soon as I know your plane tickets are booked and you are staying those couple of extra days for sure.

SO EXCITED AAAHHHHHH! That’s only about a month and a half away! YOU’RE COMING TO MERKA!!!!!! Not ONLY to Merka, but to the best city in ALL of Merka!!!!

This is the best news ever ever EVER! I love your job. You tell your job I love them. Wait, probably don’t, that’d be weird.

YAY YAY YAY! I’m am grinning HUGE right now!

Yep. I email like I blog like I talk, you guys, it’s not even an urban legend, it’s true facts.

First we thought his hotel would be near Chinatown. I told him he could have all the delicious foodstuffs. And that I would come find him so he didn’t have to come all the way to the train station to meet me. He was pleased with both of these developments and told me that once he ate chicken-foot soup. That had a real chicken-foot in it. Andreas is a very adventurous eater, yo.

Yay, Chinatown!

Yay, Chinatown!

When I told Mom and Dad Andreas was officially OFFICIALLY coming, they each had advice for him.

Dad: You two aren’t going to take the subway anywhere, are you? Don’t get close to the edge until the train is there. Stand way back near the wall THE WHOLE TIME until the train comes. Because if you don’t, someone will push you on the tracks and you will die. That’s like the national sport down there. YOU WILL DIE.

Whoa, that one person is VERY close to the edge. Courting death, right there.

Whoa, that one person is VERY close to the edge. Courting death, right there.

Mom: Well, if he’s never been here, he’s not going to know this. Tell him not to buy purses off the street. They’re not real purses. THEY ARE KNOCKOFFS. Also, tell him if someone in a store says “do you want to go in this little room in the back and see additional items?” that means they want you to do drugs back there so tell him to say no, or DRUG DEALERS!

What, Chanel purses AREN'T $9.99? WHOA. SHOCKER.

What, Chanel purses AREN’T $9.99? WHOA. SHOCKER.

My answers to this advice were, and I quote, “Um, Dad, I don’t think that’s a thing that happens that often” and “Mom, um…where exactly did you GO that time you and the church group went to New York City, anyway?”

So now that I’m a fancy working-lady (well, shit, that makes me sound like a whore) I thought, this time, I’m going to take AMTRAK to the city. Because usually I drive down to Poughkeepsie and take the Metro North train, which is much much cheaper. Also a little seedy. And by the time you’re done with your day of adventure in the city and you get back to your car you still have to drive like an hour and a half or something MORE and you’re so TIRED, argh. But the Amtrak is only twenty minutes away and it’s NICE and has free Wifi and then when you come home you only have to drive twenty MORE minutes to get to your BED.

FANCY, yo.

FANCY, yo.

But the Amtrak is spendy.

AMY! You have MOOLAH now! I said to myself. So I went to the Amtrak site.

Well! Come to find out, not only is Amtrak not as expensive as I remember (either I’m remembering wrong or the prices dropped because no one could afford the train, who knows) but I found a COUPON CODE!

(Listen, if you people online shop and see a box when you’re checking out for a coupon code and DON’T hit Google and search for available coupon codes, you are totally throwing your money down a hole and I have no pity for you. NONE NONE.)

So I found a 20% off coupon code that made the ALREADY-LOW PRICE go even LOWER so it ended up being $65 round-trip. Now, to drive to Poughkeepsie and take the train – the tickets alone are (I think, if I’m remembering correctly) $48. So it would only be an additional $17 to take a train RIGHT FROM MY OWN TOWN. A nicer train. That I don’t have to drive forever to get home from. And when I told Dad that, he said, “That’s the better choice, because you have to factor in the gas and wear-and-tear on your car. I raised you right, you know. That was a smart decision on your part.”

I WIN!

I officially have a round-trip ticket to New York City for March 2. It has been purchased. It is in my email ready to be printed. I will print it tomorrow and then hang it on my cabinet with a fun magnet where I can look at it over and over and OVER. And also grin. A lot. I also have written, in huge letters, on both my home and work calendar, on March 2, ***ANDREAS IN NEW YORK CITY!!!!!***

I finagled it so I arrive in the city at around 9:30am and leave around 9:30pm. Yessirree, that’s correct! I GET TWELVE WHOLE HOURS WITH ANDREAS! What will we do? I don’t even know. We could see some sights! We could eat delicious foodstuffs! We could walk all around! We can talk and talk and talk and TALK! In PERSON! With our FACES! As people who email a lot, talking in person will be kind of the best thing ever. Plus even though he said not to I’m totally bringing his adorable children and lovely fiancée presents. I want them to have awesome Merkan presents. Plus if you mail presents to Andreas it takes a billion years for them to get to him and the post office is all, “Did you spell this wrong? I don’t think the ‘Åland Islands’ are really a place. Stop trying to trick us. It won’t work. We’re hip to your jive, yo.”

I ASSURE YOU ANDREAS' ISLANDS ARE A REAL THING, POST OFFICE!

I ASSURE YOU ANDREAS’ ISLANDS ARE A REAL THING, POST OFFICE!

The only sad thing about Amtrak vs. Metro North is that I will be coming into Penn Station vs. Grand Central Station and when you come into Grand Central Station you’re all “OOH AAAH I AM IN NEW YORK CITY!” and when you come into Penn Station you’re all “Meh, train station” but it all worked out for the best because Andreas found out his hotel is only 4 blocks from Penn Station after all, and not in Chinatown (and SUPER-SWANKY, so I’m so pleased for him) so it was like a New York City MIRACLE.

See? Grand Central, ooh ahh...

See? Grand Central, ooh ahh…

...vs. Penn Station. Yawn.

…vs. Penn Station. Yawn.

YOU GUYS. I’m going to meet Andreas. 37 days from now. In my favorite city ever. I was quite sure that someday I would meet Andreas. I was going to go to Finland. (Shh, I totally still am. My heart is set on seeing the land of the Finns in really real life. And also Andreas’ children before they grow up. And his lovely fiancée. Also? I want to pick mushrooms in Andreas’ forest. And then EAT those mushrooms. Yum. That totally sounded like a euphemism and was not intended to be. Sorry, world.)

I’m going to meet my Andreas. And talk to him. With my FACE.

But shh, don’t tell, before I even talk his ear off for 12 straight hours (yes, yes, I’ll let him talk, too, he has a lovely movie-star voice, I can’t wait to hear it in person) I’m giving him the biggest hug ever.

I GET TO MEET MY ANDREAS IN 37 DAYS.

If you could see me right now? One happy lady.

(And yes, don’t even worry, we’ve already discussed this. You all get to come, too. We’ll take photos. We’ll tweet. We’ll blog. We’re creatures of social media, after all. Does it really happen if we don’t do it online? Who knows. I don’t want to find out.)

We’re going to have such an adventure, Andreas. I hope you’re ready. New York City is not going to know what hit it. Not at all.

Thanks, New York. I love you the most. You let me meet the best people in real life ever.

Thanks, New York. I love you the most. You let me meet the best people in real life ever.

And because no New York City post would be complete without a New York City themed song…here’s my beloved Rufus Wainwright singing “14th Street” which is not at all cheery, but it came on my phone the other day when I was driving and I sang along to the top of my lungs and also I cried a little and it’s totally New York City related. So now you get to revel in the glory. “Why’d you have to break all my heart? Couldn’t you have saved just a little bit of it?” *sniff*


Using your common sense and ignoring your heart: a how-to guide

Now that I am an expert on both the movie and the television show Catfish – meaning, I’ve watched the movie and all three of the episodes available to me on my cable’s On-Demand – I think we need to have a chat, people of the internet.

It seems that some of you are being very, very foolish about your hearts.

Now, I know. I KNOW. I’m not really the best one to talk. I’m a walking conundrum. I’m very guarded and very wary of people – all people, not just internet people – but once you win me over, I’m yours. And I’m rabidly loyal and I wear my heart on my sleeve with those few people that I allow myself to trust. Now, usually this works out just fine. Sometimes, as happens to everyone, these relationships implode. Then I am crushed, because, well, your sleeve is not the best place to wear your heart. It makes SUCH a mess on your best blouses, seriously. Blood just NEVER comes out.

I give everything my all. It’s both a curse and a blessing, sometimes. I know no other way.

That’s neither here nor there, though. From watching all the Catfish, I have learned the following about people, and it is horrifying.

THEY ARE FALLING IN LOVE WITH LONG-DISTANCE PEOPLE THEY MEET ONLINE WITHOUT TALKING TO THEM ON THE PHONE OR SKYPING WITH THEM.

OK, listen. I can totally, totally understand the power of words. It is very easy to get swoony feelings over someone who gives good email. It absolutely is. I’m not even making fun of you for that.

I get it. You get something like this, you'd be all twitterpated. Totally understandable.

I get it. You get something like this, you’d be all twitterpated. Totally understandable.

However, if you find yourself falling in mutual crush for someone you only know through email/Facebook/Twitter/some other text-based service, you owe it to yourself to do the following two things:

  • ask to speak to them on the phone;
  • ask to Skype with them.

If they refuse to do these things repeatedly, and give you excuses like “I don’t have a cell phone” or “I don’t own a computer that has Skype capabilities” THERE IS SOMETHING HINKY GOING ON.

You have to be wise about these things. I am completely emotional, and again, I am not the right person, probably, to be giving you this advice. I understand being all, “BUT I LOVE HIM HE DOES NOT HAVE TO PROVE HIMSELF FOR ME!” and I understand when your heart tells you things, it screams louder than your head, sometimes. I get that.

But you have to listen to your head. YOU HAVE TO.

If the person you’re internet-dating and telling all your secrets to and falling in love with and such says they don’t have a cell phone – well, think about this. They’re online a lot, I assume? If someone lives their life online, odds are very good they have a cell phone. And therefore, they are lying to you for some reason. Now, if they tell you they have a cell phone but limited minutes or something, maybe. I had that plan up until recently. But if that’s the case, they probably have a land line, and could talk to you on that. People in this day and age have phones. I’m sorry to break this to you. If they say they don’t, they are lying to you. And if they’re lying to you, they’re hiding something. (My mom, when I mentioned this to her, said, “NO! I don’t have a cell phone!” and I said, “Yes, Mom, but you aren’t exactly catfishing people online, now, are you?” and she said, “Most of the words in your sentence there were gibberish to me”  so she’s not a good example of people who don’t have a cell phone. Dad has a cell phone but it isn’t a smart phone and sometimes people text him on it and he refuses to text them back because, per Dad, “I have old fat fingers and I don’t know how to use that tiny little keyboard.”)

See? Everyone has a cell phone. EVERYONE.

See? Everyone has a cell phone. EVERYONE.

And, piggybacking on this, if you ask them to Skype (and you should, because listen, pretty words are awesome, and yes, you can fall in love with someone’s words, you absolutely can, but you don’t know you’re in love until you see the person; you can say you’re not materialistic until the cows come home, my darling dearests, but it’s not materialistic, it’s common sense. We are attracted to some people and we are not attracted to others. It’s just the way of the world. It doesn’t mean you’re an asshole. It just means you are human) and they say they can’t because they don’t have a computer, or don’t know how, or various other reasons, blah blah – well, again, most likely, that person is a liar. Now, I didn’t have a webcam for the first year or so I was blogging. So I couldn’t have Skyped. I suppose there are SOME valid reasons for not being able to do so. But I GOT a webcam. (I still haven’t really Skyped. I tried once. It was disastrous and I think I broke Skype, seriously. It froze a LOT. Why does it always seem to work so seamlessly on television?)

See? Look how much fun they're having. That seems unfair.

See? Look how much fun they’re having. That seems unfair.

Also, the Catfish-guy taught me a very smart thing (BAM, Mom, who SAYS the television won’t teach me things?): if you are friends with someone on Facebook and they only have a few friends, that’s a red flag. Also, if you take their photos and put them into Google image search, you can see if they ganked them from someone else’s profile and used them as their own photo. (I might be naive, but had no idea people were doing this shit until I saw the movie Catfish. It just seems like the shadiest thing alive. But it seems a LOT of people are doing this. THIS IS YET ANOTHER REASON TO LOCK YOUR SHIT DOWN, YO. If you put your Facebook profile to public, PEOPLE WILL STEAL YOUR PHOTOS AND USE THEM TO NEFARIOUSLY WOO LADIES AND/OR MENFOLKS!!!)

Listen, I’m going to tell you a secret. Probably it’s something you’ve heard before, but you need to pay more attention this time.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

This cat is lying to you, yo. Also, it has crazy eyes.

This cat is lying to you, yo. Also, it has crazy eyes.

If you meet a super-hot person on the internet who says all the right things and seems super-into you, well, that’s awesome, sometimes things like this happen, I’m not telling you they never ever happen. But if they refuse to talk to you on the phone…and aren’t always where they say they’ll be…and won’t Skype with you because they have plenty of photos online, isn’t that enough for you?…well, listen.

There’s going to be a little voice inside your head telling you “something is wrong here, sunshine.”

And your stupid, stupid heart, which is probably a little lonely and broken like many of our hearts are, is going to shout back, “Shut up, head! He/she is perfect and wonderful! He/she loves me! He/she is perfect for me and the exact person I’ve been waiting for my entire life! Head, you are NOT going to screw this up for me, he/she has a perfectly good reason for not being able to do these perfectly normal things SHUT UP HEAD!!!”

I know. I KNOW. It’s not what you WANT to do? But you need to listen to your head.

Now, listen. If you’re just friends with the person, it doesn’t matter as much, really. I have internet friends I haven’t spoken to on the phone or Skyped with. I trust that they are who they say they are and not lying to me. But I’m also not in love with them. I *love* them, sure, but I’m not making plans to spend the rest of my life with them in a sexual way, you know? If I’m going to invite someone all up in my business I want to know they’re who they say they are. I’m kooky like that. I also have fairly good radar. Or, if not “good” radar, I’m very mistrusting. So since it takes me a super-long time to trust someone, and if they do even the SLIGHTEST thing that makes me think, “NO THIS SEEMS WEIRD” (even if really it probably isn’t) I don’t bother continuing on with the relationship, I’m usually not overly fooled by crazies and/or loonies. Hopefully. Maybe. Who knows, though, I could be getting catfished left and right and probably wouldn’t know it because according to this show THESE PEOPLE ARE VERY GOOD AT THIS. And there are SO MANY OF THEM ZOMG.

(Also, I object to the fact that the Catfish show makes it look like all of us who live on the internet are crazies who lie for a living. I’m only PARTIALLY crazy and I don’t get paid for lying, thank you, TV show, I do it for FREE. Dad said, “Of COURSE you’re all crazy. I love you, but I think you might be crazy.” But this post is already mondo-long so that’s a story for another day, now, isn’t it?)

I know. It all seems very exciting and very romantic to have a long-distance internet boyfriend or girlfriend. (I’m specifying long-distance here, because if they’re local? MEET UP WITH THEM, YO. It’s like Skype but BETTER. There can be HUGGING. And other things. That I will not go into. Ahem.) And I know quite a few people who have met their significant others through the interwebs and guess what? They weren’t even stabbed to death. I KNOW! SHOCKING REVELATIONS!

Just use your head. That’s what it’s there for. It’s amazing to me that you’re not doing this. Don’t sell yourself short just because you think it’s finally your turn to have a super-romantic time. That’s ridiculous and how you get either murdered or your identity stolen, or in the smaller-scale of things, you just feel like a total asshat when the person you fell in love with turns out to be a mentally-unstable teenage boy or a lonely gramma or something.

Also, people who are catfishing others, just stop it. I think you’re probably insane, so you don’t understand what you’re doing is wrong, but IT IS NOT FUNNY IT IS HORRIBLE. You don’t earn someone’s trust and piss all over it. You just don’t do this. Ever. If you do, you know what they say about karma, right? YOU ARE GOING TO BE EATEN BY KARMA’S SHARP SHARP TEETH YOU ASSHOLE.

Just be careful, ok, internettians? It’s wonderful to fall in love. It’s the best thing in the whole entire world, followed closely by really, really good chocolate. And also maybe delicious pudding. Shit, now I want some pudding. But if it seems weird…IT PROBABLY IS.

This is common sense. You all have it. Please use it. Thank you. I worry, you see.


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