Thursday, February 08, 2007

Who Will Save Your Soul When It Comes to Being Young and WIRED

I just got an electric toothbrush and every time I use it, I wonder if my roommates hear the buzzing and think I'm like, rubbing one out in the bathroom? I wouldn't do that, because I'm not a perv, and who has that kind of time, and vibrators are expensive, and besides, like, Maggie is more or less deaf, so I'm sure she's not wondering if I got a new Dolphin, which of course, you know, I didn't, not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that I am saving myself. For Leonardo DiCaprio. What am I talking to? Who's that? Today I was so involved in my book that I took the subway two extra stops and then took the wrong train back. Actually that doesn't mean much for me, that's sort of normal. Guess how many hours I've slept this week. I am not even funny anymore, I'm out of jokes. Like the bottom of a barrel of pickles.

... and actually something that just happened was that this whole post got deleted. Now I'm writing it again. I'd say it feels like the first time, except that it doesn't. It feels less clever. You can imagine how fantastic the first one was.

Good. Lets talk naked girls on the cover of "New York Magazine" who don't care about privacy. This is the "greatest generation gap since rock n' roll." The gap is between parents like my Mother who think I will be stalked from information I reveal on my blog (I think this is a huge overestimation of my allure, I mean, Mom not everyone loves me like you do, you know?) and the teenagers who are on myspace and livejournal sharing themselves all over the place, doing whatever it is kids do these days, I don't know, there are no teenagers in New York. I mean, there are, I read "Gossip Girl," but I try to avoid them, which means avoiding Intermix and any crosstown busses at 3pm. Or dark alleys of ill repute.

I have thought about this though because I did not grow up with it. I went to boarding school in 1997, and we had two computers with internet access and then these monochrome machines we could use for e-mail only. Before that, AOL cost $2.95/hour, and though I spent many-a-night between 1994-1997 (hey, remember PRODIGY?!!) "chatting" and downloading photos of Jared Leto and Claire Danes, it wasn't like I left up away messages to inform my friends I was taking a shower. I've thought about what it would have been like to have all of this back then and I have decided, resolutely, that it would have been horrific. I had enough anxiety about who my best friends were and who was going to what party without panicking about the composition of my Top 12.

Because photoshop is a soft warm blanket of bliss, I have created my myspace page, circa The Dark Ages of Riese.

Without a doubt, I would have kept a livejournal filled with all the dark pain of my soul and lyrics from Jewel and Heavenly and I would have written really snarky mean things to my friends and then the next day at school I woulda been all like "Did it say [redacted] is a BITCH or did it say "Sometimes I don't understand how people can be so cruel, so cold, so uncaring"? It would have been host to poems like this one:

Poison Girl
You don't know how you hurt me
You just throw those poison arrows
hard sharp.
You have perfect aim
heart target.
You don't even know
when you throw.
(actual poem , copyright 1996)

I also would have talked way too much about who I had a crush on, like, to an embarassing degree. Unlike this blog, where I'm totally cool as a cucumber.

When I went out of town with my family during a weekend that a party was taking place I wouldn't be able to sleep until the party was over. I didn't know, of course, exactly when it was over, because I didn't have a cell phone. In fact, when I went to summer camp, my friends would send me actual letters with information I currently cannot imagine being informed of with a lag time of anything over 20 minutes. I would have known more or less when the party ended though because our parents had to pick us up in cars and they couldn't just all get phone calls from us so they had this sort of thing planned in advance without cell phones and all, which is how I would know that it was over (based on the paper-printed invite I had received) at 11:30. Then I could rest. Whatever was meant to happen had happened. I would sleep, and there wasn't a thing I could do in that bed, deep into the folds of a mountain covered in artificial snow or a little yellow bedroom in Ohio where at night all you hear is the trucks passing by, whish whish whish through the rows of boring cornfields--there wasn't a thing I could do between where I was and all that to change the night's events. If he had kissed her, if she and she had spent the night in consult: it was safe and already memory.

But if I could have seen my friends away messages? Or if they could have texted me the moment something of great social import had occurred? Then I would have had to keep constant vigilance on my life, carried my monumental anxiety from school to my home where the in-person freakouts (pairing, breakup, gossip spread) could have continued to play out their soft brutal mania in the form of cute comments on someone else's page or a subtle outsing from a top position or the number of my pics taken up with your pics with their pics or what they may or may not have said in their online journal and if their Mom let them stay up all night online, or if you were being put to sleep unfathomably early while a party raged in cyberspace, burning and necessary?

Um. Ew.

It was way too easy for me to imagine what I would have said. Probably because being on myspace is already a whole lot like being 15. It's like eternal yearbook.


Angelina said...

I love this, lolz!!!

haviland said...

I LOVE that you made a fake myspace page, c. 1996. Hmm...I totally wanna do this for myself. It would have probably have been used much like I am using my page further my career or whatever. But all the anxiety over who was friends with whom and parties and everything? oh that would have been AWFUL!!! What do kids do now to handle that?

m.did said...

LOL!!! no posers!!!!! that picture of you is priceless. and eternal yearbook? you are so right!

Rachel said...

I feel like I should have a lot of things to say about being a teenager in present time, but I don't have a myspace, and I only very rarely start up MSN messenger, and I only have 26 contacts, and most of them I don't talk to, and I still use dial-up, only ours is free with our long distance. Also, none of my friends really go to parties, and when they do and they drag me along I leave promptly rolling my eyes and saying, "What a waste of time. Who wants to sit around & watch losers get stoned?" So I can't say.

riese said...

yeah that's what I did in high school. in middle school I cared A LOT. in high school i wouldn't go to anything, so my friends would have to call me and be like "come over, we love you!" and i would be like ,fuck y'all, crazy drunk bitches. i hated everyone for being stoned and drunk all the time. now i'm a grown up and used to it. i had to combine teenaged anxieties with high school reality. since i think you have to be 15 to be on myspace, right? i dunno.

oh, eternal yearbook.

LN James said...

i would like you to
know that your po-
em. the one about heart targets.
the one about poison.
is so very right-

i weep. for your in-
ner child and the


that were thrown. by bitches. at


'87 --> b there or b []

Rachel said...

Yeah, middle school was definitely worse. There seemed to be a LOT more stress around the asking people out thing, since we were all new to it, and the guy that I dated, I only talked on the phone to about video games. Then we broke up and he asked out Ellen, who said no. She said yes when Zyla asked her the same question about two years later, though.

Oh, and the other guy I dated, all we did was walk around and make out, coz I didn't find him intellectually stimulating but he was a skater guy (it was a weakness for me, too - every boyfriend I've been seriously physically attracted to, had some skater goin on). Although he was dating a girl I didn't really know when he first offered me gummy bears in exchange for a kiss.

Thinking bout it takes me back.
I liked the bit about posers & fakers. My name has all the letters for "real" in it. So obviously I fit that criteria.

nyradical said...

Your "Poison Girl" poem cracked me up. So emo. Love the fact it's fucking copyrighted--that's hilarious. Also: "I am not even funny anymore, I'm out of jokes. Like the bottom of a barrel of pickles." Dude--the bottoms of pickle barrels are so not funny ... ha.

Your S.L. saga entertained me. And by SL obvs I don't mean Second Life.

Anyway, I dug the writing in this blog--clean, tight prose. Nice. I've been musing this topic myself, how my generation (I'm turning 30 next month) has had to assimilate into this new virtual collective consciousness, whereas kids/teens these days (those crazy kids!) are like, born with innate PR-savvy knowledge, which's scary. Being in mid/high school, and having to represent yourself with an online identity--like we're fucking superstars, we and our kickass user-IDs ("supaflydykestud"--whatever). Where'd introspection go? It's dead like Jesus, alas. Also, this article mentions how we older types might just be bitter, but frankly, I'm thankful. Cause to some measure my generation was allowed to develop a sense of self before having to represent it; now, the distinction between the self and simulacrum (if you will; sorry--pretension) has dissolved. Now kids're forced to factor in external opinions when forming their identities--it's hyper-self-consciousness.

Anyway, you might find this article by Thomas de Zengotita fascinating (it first appeared in Harper's but was later developed into his book, MEDIATED, which changed my life):

The Numbing of the American Mind: Culture as Anasthetic.

Anyway, cheers.