This is a repost of something I wrote 7 years ago, shortly after I’d gone back to school to study journalism.
I’m trying to catch up with the new social networking tools because I’m told they’re a goldmine for journalists. But mining is hard work, and you never know if or when you’ll strike gold. I posted and twittered for quite a while before I found anything glittery.
Facebook is a carnival, and I still find it confusing. Yesterday the managing editor of the school paper sent me a message, and I had a heck of a time dealing with it. Where was it? Was it on his wall? Mine? Some sort of private message? Was he not answering me because he was busy or because I replied in the wrong place?
Finally I called him, using my landline because my cellphone still feels like unfamiliar technology and I don’t trust it. It was jarring when the managing editor of the paper last semester asked us all for phone numbers and specified that they should be “real” phones, not “some number your mother’s going to answer.”
I think by “real” she meant “cell,” which seems as odd to me as the notion that my mother, who lives in another town, would pick up my landline. For the purposes of that discussion, I guess I am my mother — that is, the person who answers that ancient, immobile instrument in the kitchen. They always said we turn into our mothers. I was warned.
Then there’s Twitter. It’s quieter and I like that. I can also see some real potential in it for journalists. I can send short text messages from my computer or my phone (well, I can’t send text messages from my phone because it’s primitive and I’m incompetent, but, in general, people can send them), and they’ll be received by anyone who is following me, following being a little like stalking, but with the active cooperation of the stalkee.
Oddly, though, the most interesting part of Twitter has been the minutiae. Paul ate at The Hat and posted a photo of his chili fries in a tweet. That’s the sort of little stuff that makes our lives real. After a while, you begin to feel like you know Paul. And you develop a craving for chili fries.
And then, amid the carnival confusion and the twittering minutiae, I catch a glimmer of something else. Ethan Morse, the student trustee representing Fullerton College on the district board of trustees, has just proposed to his girlfriend, after sunset at the pier, with the words “Elizabeth Marry me” spelled out in candles in the sand, placed there by friends. There are pictures on Facebook the next day.