Open letter to an old lover

Photo on 9-15-14 at 11.09 PM #3
We used to gaze at each other for hours, lit by curiosity and liquid crystal.

Forgive me for bringing this up so suddenly. I know it’s been a while.

It’s just that tonight on the drive home I got to thinking about the times we shared, and how I discovered so much of myself through you, with you. And how much I pine for those days. They were simpler. We were learning so much so quickly about each other that, looking back, our break was inevitable. How could we have been prepared?

I didn’t realize it was over until it had been for some time. I had a baby and took a new job and you busied yourself with your own evolution. It’s fine. It’s not my fault and it’s not yours. It just happened.

I ached for you in ways that weren’t even obvious to me at first. There was a void where you used to bring me things. Not necessarily valuable things; I am not the kind of gal who’s swayed by shiny things (although bring me a tacky costume ring that glints in the sunlight and I might love you for life because I am forever a 7-year-old girl at the fair). It was the ideas and concepts you used to bring me that I missed the most. Where had they gone? They were still out there, sure, but they just didn’t find their way to me through you as easily anymore. So I walked around not knowing about amazing things, all the time. Can you imagine? Awful.

Remember how we would stay up all night gazing at each other and sharing ideas? You’d watch me sip cheap wine and I’d become looser with my words and in fits of courage and stupidity say things to you that I’d sometimes regret the next morning. Nothing necessarily hurtful, just silly things only vocalized by the comfortable and inebriated. You made me feel so free back then. You encouraged me to write ambiguously worded open letters to inanimate objects. You never interrupted, you rarely judged (or at least didn’t tell me if you did), and you made me feel heard and understood. I have never forgotten that. Although I have forgotten how to be that. I try sometimes. The shoes fit weird these days, for so many reasons.

Anyway, I know this is probably embarrassing you. You thought the past was buried and that we had moved on to bigger, brighter things. You’re all over the place now, even more so than before. Even harder to pin down. That’s OK; you don’t have to feel bad about it. It’s for the best; you are (should be) a force for good and I am trying to not be selfish by wanting to keep you the way you were before, when it felt like you were made for me.

Internet, I have missed you so fucking much but nothing is the same. Do you realize that this time 10 years ago, our parents and employers were not even allowed on Facebook? Do you remember? That was like some kind of golden age, lost to legend and a hundred thousand Farmville requests now. Do you remember you and me, how we used to just shoot the shit about nothing but, through our silliness, open up so many slices of the world to examine, one by one? We had this really intense thing for so long and now I have to work up liquid courage to even talk to you on a level that is not completely superficial. I am awkward around you and unsure of myself. I’m in middle school again, except I’ve got the cynical conscience of a thirtysomething constantly hissing “What is the point???” to everything I try to say to you.

Ah, there it is. You just recoiled a little bit. It was subtle — you’re not trying to hurt my feelings — but I saw it. I know, I’m making you uncomfortable and being a little clingy and overly nostalgic. I think maybe you used to like that about me because it showed my sincerity, when I would get so overeager about memory and meaning. It’s true; when I find something I like, or even something I don’t like, I can get a little too excited. Can you queue up that scene from “Tommy Boy” where he kills his sale? Awesome, thanks! You have always been so good at that. Anyway. Emotionally, I am Tommy Boy. It’s funny because it’s true.

So, none of this is meant to make you feel bad for how things have turned out. I’m not asking you to change, and I’m not begging for our old relationship back. I’ve changed, you’ve changed. The whole world has changed. I just wanted you to know that I haven’t forgotten the way things were. And as old and sad as it makes me feel, I wish I could get that time back, when it was just you and me figuring things out and being silly in the middle of the night. With no fear.

LT

A eulogy for Television Without Pity

The buttery and soothing tones of Brooke Gladstone’s voice informed me tonight on the drive home from work that Television Without Pity is no more. The archives will stay up but NBC Universal, which owns the site (?????), has shuttered it and there will be no new recaps.

I haven’t been on TWoP in years but this still hurts my heart all the same. I suppose it is just another fact of life when you’ve been on the internet for forever. Even though things on the internet can live forever doesn’t mean they will. Sites I loved so hard (Google Reader, I’m still not over you) are going to come and go as the nerdy ephemera of the internet mimics more and more the ebb and tide of real-life brick and mortar gathering spaces through time.

My introduction to TWoP came in college from the editor of the student newspaper. She was a HUGE Buffy fan and read the recaps religiously. I checked out the site and found myself quickly hooked on Six Feet Under recaps and would read them instead of watching the actual new episodes, since we didn’t have HBO. They were so good back in the day. So funny and easy to digest.

Recaps of 7th Heaven were my longtime guilty pleasure, since I loved to hate to love that show. The best recappers had a way of giving you every important detail of the show so that you could build the episode scene by scene in your head, while delivering some of the sharpest criticism and hilarious writing I’ve ever read on these tubes.

TWoP recaps opened up a perverse and embarrassing new vocabulary world for me. That site was the first place I ever saw the word “snark” used purposefully. And that site was where I let those obnoxious abbreviations — totes, whatevs, adorbs — seep into my vernacular. (It didn’t take much prodding, if I’m being honest.) I still to this day say “Whatevs, Revs,” which makes NO SENSE in any context except to someone who might have also read it in a hilarious 7th Heaven recap.

I am sad to see the site go, as in its heyday it was brilliant. Television is currently putting out so much fucking great stuff that a robust, at-its-best TWoP could be INCREDIBLE, but that is not really how the universe works, is it? After all, you could argue that the heyday of TWoP led to the current crop of INCREDIBLE television, couldn’t you?

RIP TWoP. You were a cornerstone of my bookmarks for a long time and you were one of a handful of sites that made the internet important to me.

Dear Google, I don’t give a crap about your April Fools pranks but I do actually give a crap about useful services

Listen.

I don’t hate fun. Really, I don’t. I have even been known to HAVE fun every now and again. I encourage it. Within reason, of course!

But this is getting ri-frickin-diculous.

That link that you probably hovered on but did not click is a roundup of all the April Fools pranks Google staged in 2013 alone.

I realize that Google is a global ginormamegacorporation that employs tens of thousands of people, so it’s possible that the total percentage of work time spent on a dozenish fairly elaborate pranks does not amount to much.

But as someone who has been mourning the death of the internet I used to love since Google started powering down Reader in late 2011, watching a dozenish cutesy fake marketing campaigns pop up every April 1 now just makes me grumpy. Think of the brainstorming sessions devoted to coming up with silly April Fools ideas. Think of the teams that were created or leveraged to push those pranks forward. Think of the art direction, the storyboarding, the scriptwriting, the illustration, the plotting, the self-satisfied back patting once the pranks were posted and started getting hits.

Meanwhile, an actually useful program that many people rely on and like and would love to continue using isn’t getting the time of day from Google’s well-intentioned pranksters. They are too busy eating their free lunch on their indoor playground and dreaming up hilariously useless fake stuff to devote brainpower to so that people will get a quick chuckle on April Fools Day.

You know what, Google? You are not The Onion. I don’t need you to make me laugh. You are not Martha Stewart. I don’t need you to add whimsy to my everyday interactions with the world. You are not a DVD. I don’t need you to put Easter eggs everywhere. You are a company that makes tech products and experiences. I expect you to do that and really effing well since I pretty much let you log all the data about my life that you want, around the clock, and you use that data to make BUTT LOADS of money.

So stop f&*%$ing around with this fake April Fools crap and bring Reader back or make something better and more useful for once.

Shameless self-promotion: Recorded yapping edition

Remember this bit of strategic foreshadowing? No? Well, that’s why Al Gore invented the hyperlink.

So my pal Ed and I sat down and had a little chat about the social web and what a sticky wicket it is, and we recorded that conversation for posterity and for a time capsule element I will one day beam into my children’s head pods’ humor modules. My one regret is that I was having such a mouth-stuffing love affair with my honey-slathered bagel that I didn’t make some of the points I should have. Good food gives me temporary amnesia, so what? But honestly, if you read this post, you get the gist of where I’m going with my thoughts anyway.

The point is that the social web has such amazing potential for connections that never before could have existed. But I am scared about where we are headed because companies looking to get in on a good thing are hell bent on fucking it all up. The image I keep getting in my head is of an over-eager chihuahua frantically humping a human leg. You are the leg, these companies seeking to infiltrate and control are the chihuahua. They want your attention, they want you to like them, they want your thumbs ups, they want you to opt into the game, but on the flipside, they want you to play by their rules and conduct yourself 24 hours a day as if you are a roaming ambassador for them. What you do is what the company is. Your living out loud on the web means you are subject to constant scrutiny and potential regulation by your employer. Doesn’t that scare you? It surely scares me, and I have a fairly boring life and a fairly lenient employer.

Anyway, listen to the conversation if that’s your bag, and then check back. I was Ed’s guinea pig, so I’m super excited to see where he takes his project once he starts sitting down with the really interesting people he knows.

Day 87/365: Podcaster

28march4

My friend Ed was kind enough to ask me to blather on and on into a microphone about The Internet the other day. Details on that to come a little later.

Our server at Republic Coffee saw us hooked up to lapel mics and wanted to know what we were doing, exactly.

“This is how we give blood,” Ed quipped.

Good show.

[Project 365]