I sat in the top row of an arena during the first round of an NCAA basketball tournament, baffled by the timeout behavior of the crowd. When action on the court stopped, fans occupied themselves by visiting the Internet or sending texts on cell phones that glowed like fireflies throughout the stadium.
Why weren’t they stretching, snacking, mugging for TV, or talking to one another?
If I sound scornful, it’s my ineptness speaking. When it comes to technology I flounder around with the finesse of a hippopotamus taking a mud bath.
I do have a modicum of skill. For example, I use the Internet for important research: Recently, remembering a teenage crush, I googled Gorgeous George. Soon I was perusing photographs of the professional wrestler with blonde curls, whose valet sprayed him with Chanel #10 before he entered the ring.
I also use email. I enjoy the entertainment it provides when messages assure me I can re-grow my hair, consolidate my debt, lose weight, and increase my virility. I text so my grandchildren will respond; and Joel and I share a Facebook page, which we use more like voyeurs than participants.
But networks like Classmate, Plaxo, and Desktop Dating baffle me.
Classmate is a site for those who sometimes entertain idle thoughts about their high school years: “I wonder what became of that kid, Donny Hickman, who carried a wooden puppet every where and whispered to it?”
My husband succumbed when he was notified that Classmate had 188 registrants from his high school. After joining, he received a message: “You’re popular, Joel. Three people signed your guest book today.”
Seemed like a liberal definition of popular to me.
One of the questions on Classmate’s entry form stumped me: “What kind of person were you in high school: bully, clown, gossip, jock, loner, misfit, nerd, party animal, troublemaker?”
I couldn’t see a category for someone who mostly got along and did well — despite suffering occasional bouts of acne and having only three pairs of school-worthy shoes. So I didn’t join.
Next came the Plaxo hubbub. My siblings and I received email notifications that my older brother, Bob, had invited the rest of us to join him on Plaxo. We all like Bob. We forgave him long ago for sneaking into the basement and eating all the fruit cocktail Mom bottled as a special treat. So we signed up.
When we received no further messages, we called one another, “What is Plaxo, anyway? Sounds vaguely dental, doesn’t it? Is Bob losing it?” Finally, Blaine called Bob: “What is Plaxo, and why did you want us on it?”
“Heck, Blainer, I don’t know. I didn’t join anything.”
Right. He lied about the fruit cocktail, too.
Then I received an invitation to join in the fun of Desktop Dating. My fingers stumbled in their rush to delete it. The invitation supposedly came from my brother, Lawrence, a 77-year-old, married, great-grandfather at the time.
I’m not sure my family is fit for the age of technology.