Rose Parade

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Our perfect selves

A few months back my sister Lisa and my friend Liz badgered - I mean, persuaded me - to join them on Friendster at their loving behest. Seriously, they both hit me with it at the same time. It was like a coordinated attack, except that they've never met, so it was a really odd coincidence I couldn't cope with. Under that kind of pressure, how could I not cave? So I joined and was poked and prodded with personal questions I really didn't think were any of Friendster's business. I did break down and list my extensive tally of favorite films and then let it go and for a while Lisa and Liz remained my only official Friendster-sanctioned "friends". And life was good, because I like being left alone, especially by strangers. Last week my email informed me that via Friendster Randy Has Sent You a Message. Now I don't know any Randys, except that Liz's roommate is a Randy. But her birthday just passed and I couldn't imagine why her roommate Randy - who I have never actually met or had any sort of contact with - would be rounding up her friends now. Also, there's the thing about how I just don't get dinged by Friendsters wanting to be my "friends". But this wasn't Liz's Randy at all. At least I hope not. First, his picture: This is so not my type. Nope, not at all. The overblown bodybuilder thing is just NO, not to mention that I think he looks like he's only emailing someone with a girl's name in the hopes that this chick has a cute brother (I live in Hollywood, We-Ho adjacent, trust me on this one), all of which equals me not wanting to click on the link to his message. In fact it rather filled me with dread. After a week, I finally got bold enough to click and see what this guy really wanted from me. And you know what? Total spam. B my friend and other excitable internet shorthand crap that I somehow deleted before I had the presence of mind to realize I might want to hang on to it for purposes of blogging, mockery of the younger set and quite the icebreaker at parties. This Friendster thing is doing nothing for me. My people are at Let's Go Kings anyway. A couple of them have even given me "karma", which I think is the online equivalent of adding me as a friend, a sort of internet hug that I haven't quite figured out yet. I think I need more posts there to make it official. In a way, it's kind of odd - I'm not good with people, so the online aspect of something like Friendster should give me the space and a certain level of anonimity and control I could and should feel comfortable with. And yet, there's still something forced about it, like being the wallflower at a social event where everyone else is effortlessly having a great time, while I'm being paired off with someone equally awkward because he likes a couple of the same movies I do, as if that's enough to bond over (although being a hockey fan is totally enough to bond over!) And then there's the picture/avatar thing. Is that even really him or is it his idealized self? My picture at Friendster is the black and white at the top of this post, taken of me at about age 3-1/2 by my talented photographer godfather, my Uncle Jack. It's me, my mom and my infant sister. Mom is focused on the new baby while God knows what was going through my poor little mind. I never saw it until a couple years ago (it's not like the family-famous profile shot Uncle Jack took of me at the Arboretum) but it instantly became my all-time favorite picture of myself. And while it's definitely cuter than a current picture would be - not to mention that the attitude is spot-on - is that any scarier or less healthier than someone who may or may not be overly buffed representing himself as such online? I love the internet and everything it's brought us, from email and blogs to hooking me up with other Southern California hockey fans, from boundless information to alternate news sources, but most of all I love that it gives me the access to wonder and question and think and learn, all at my fingertips and in the cherished privacy of my own home. And I also love it because, like Randy, it lets me present myself to the world as I see myself, as I feel myself, even if it's idealized and not terribly real - young, small, cute, thoughtful and in glorious black and white. The internet gives us the gift of anonimity to be our perfect selves and to present ourselves as we wish and choose to be known. It gives us a certain amount of control. At least it does until Mr. West Hollywood Universe decides to buddy up. And then there's more beauty of the internet: anonymous rejection, none of that embarassing face to face crap. Yeah, I know I'm not a social creature and a lot of people might consider it less than healthy, but forcing the issue isn't going to make it happen either. So I'm not adding Randy to my circle of "friends". Not online or in real life, and I think we're both pretty comfortable with that at this point. You have to draw the line somewhere. And today this is where I draw it. Randy and I are just never going to hang out. But the black and white picture above? That is SO me on the left. Oh yeah, that's the lovely Melinda, hopeless/disgusted/WTF expression and all. That's how I see myself. It's like I knew where life was really going to take me... And scariest of all? Damn, I was CUTE...

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