I get annoyed by people who refuse to "learn computers", get online, explore, email, all the rest. I decided last year that if I wasn't moving forward, I wasn't just standing still, I was going backwards. And then I hear myself say, Oh, I don't do Facebook. Twitter? Please. I can't even text... Last year's resolution was to start a blog. The experience of writing it, learning to use a camera, and hearing from readers almost immediately, has surpassed anything I imagined.

This year's resolution is to try and understand "social media". I can't quite connect with Facebook; something about all those "friends", hidden behind the ethereal scrim, and the idea of friending, undoes my courage.

But I've started a Twitter account. I can't quite figure out how you are supposed to let people know you are there (besides this way); all the instructions are way more complicated than 140 characters might suggest. Aggressive following? Say what? But so far, I'm intrigued by the limit of 140 characters--wondering when this will become a poetic form? Enjoying the "pensees" of the amusingly self-satisfied but very clever Alain de Botton--whose demons seem to hover around envy and jealousy; have found that I can now catch up with the inimitably charming and highly entertaining Susan Orlean.  And, 140 characters is a real challenge. As readers of slow love life might imagine. Here we go!


Bruce Barone said...

Download TweetDeck; it helps with posting and following, etc.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you're familiar with Alain de Botton's work (I like it a great deal, and I think he's one of the funniest folks going these days). Should I guess that, during your own dark, chronically pajama-clad days, you got a copy of "How Proust can Change Your Life"?....

....."It is perhaps only normal if we remain ignorant when things are blissful. When a car is working well, what incentive is there to learn of its complex internal functioning" When a beloved pledges loyalty, why should we dwell on the dynamics of human treachery? What could encourage us to investigate the humiliations of social life when all we encounter is respect? Only when plunged into grief do we have the Proustian incentive to confront difficult truths, as we wail under the bedclothes....."

or Alain's observation:

"The incident emphasizes once more that beauty is something to be found, rather than passively encountered..."

Presumably, you wouldn't need me to tell you that de Botton's all very "Slow-Love-Life".....
You, de Botton (equally so in his "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work"), and Ye Olde Proust are obviously on to something that most folks fail to consider in their daily lives.

As for Facebook? I happen to love it, although I should emphasize that I think of it as a sort of cyber cocktail-party, at which my many witty friends (I have, over the years, gathered unto my fattening self a great many genuinely smart&funny folks) make amusing repartee and duly cough up more-or-less tangential epigrams.

My only problem with Facebook is that about half of the women-i-know seem to think it's a good idea to suggest to their adolescent daughters that they "friend" me (and, yes, I've noticed that no one recommends his/her son to my account, for which I'm grateful and by which I'm unsurprised). I get these silly requests on a very regular basis....some 14 year-old girl i've-never-met writing to say "my mom says you're really funny, and we should be FRIENDS!!!:)".


In my twenties and early thirties, when I taught in expensive boreding-skoolz, I was underpaid to watch my chronically-filthy mouth around young girls. I'm not about to begin doing so for free, at this age, just because some silly mother (who happened to go to the same undergraduate school as I did) has launched her teenaged daughter at me.

My favorite comment about Facebook came from Celia Rivenbark (a very funny North Carolina writer, who lives about two hours from me, and whose edifying books include "You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In the Morning"). Her pre-adolescent daughter forced her to go onto Facebook and, indeed, set up the page for her. A few days later, Celia (who's actually quite pretty & well-known in this state for her regular column and books) was shown the page...and informed by her perky daughter that she had been "SUPERPOKED!" quite a few times already.

Celia said that was disgusting, and her daughter assured her that "It just means hello".

Celia wasn't particularly comforted and claimed (not to her daughter, but in print/elsewhere) "Hmmmm...I still had an image of Jodie Foster on a pool table in 'the Accused'..." (and I quote).

My own mother told me recently that I shouldn't "get on" Facebook because she saw something on Oprah "about how they can steal your identity"

I told her they were welcome to it....I'd like to see how far they'd get with whatever they'd stolen.

Advisedly yours as ever,

David Terry

Dominique said...

Dear Mr. Terry. Welcome back. Was France fabulous? My identity was stolen already, and it hasn't really changed me that much, though it is annoying to be told I've bought enough computers to start a small business, and they have been shipped to the South Bronx. I must look up Celia Rivenbark...and I have never been able to read Proust. Weird. I want to, and then start, and get depressed. Oh well. It gives me a mountain to climb in the distant future....So glad to hear from you again.

Bruce Barone, I will do as you suggest. I'm still completely mystified by this thing, but that's what changing one's mind is about, I suppose....

Amy said...

Hi Dominique-
Here is a really nice take on Facebook's "like" button.


Thanks for your thoughtful, lovely posts. Love the one with the lemons and persimmons. Have a peaceful New Year.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I haven't yet jumped into the Twitter lake. I must admit I find it a bit hard to believe that anyone would be that interested in the minutiae of my life. My husband is on Facebook and I sometimes sneak a peek at his page. But I agree, all that "friending", and all those people! I think I'd rather go for a walk. Or read. Or cook. Or write. Or nap.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

France wasn't exactly "fabulous". It's odd but France just seems sort of normal?.....after seven or so years of having so thoroughly married into it. I seem to go there all the time, and it just feels pretty normal (same word, I know), except when it isn't (which is to say that it feels like family).

Herve's family and their connections are, as became immediately obvious to me during the very first trip, the sort to make me feel like Charles Ryder in "Brideshead Revisited".....i.e., I found myself (at least during the first couple of visits)saying "Oh..you said your godparents had a house in the country....wait....THIS is the 'Country House'??!!..."

That said, his ENTIRE family are of the class which, quite predictably, never even slightly refers to titles ...and they all seem to be doctors or renowned child-psychiatrists (with a practice in Paris and a mansion in the Marais that they let some NGO use), and they all claim to be ABSOLUTELY AND ENTIRELY HAPPY to pay as many taxes as they possibly can to help those less-advantaged-by-birth.

My Southern family is rather the opposite. Most of them could barely get his/her ass through Sweet Briar or Sewanee (the University of the South, thank you), and a good number of them would, if forced to confront "lowered" circumstances, find a way of living sort of contentedly in a trailer-park...just as long as they could sip their bourbon each night from the two or three of Grandmother's waterford glasses that they'd managed not to bust over the years.They do require an audience, though.

As for stolen identities? Mine was stolen (disastrously so) YEARS before the cyber age. In the early 90's, when I first was brought to Duke, I applied for my first NC driver's license, having held ones from TN and Virginia beforehand.

I was ushered into a back room by 2 big, blue policemen and told that I was being apprehended for having failed to show up, on two occasions, for the trials involving my hit&run accident/murder, two years previously, in Petersburg, VA.

Of course, I hadn't BEEN in Virginia during that year, since I was at Oxford. The only way I got out of the legal mess was to have my Oxford tutor (who was also the Provost of Lincoln College) make xeroxes of his notes from our conversations during weekly tutorials on prissy Spencer & Sydney (one of which took place on the very afternoon I was SUPPOSED to have run over a woman at a cross-street in Petersburg, VA),

Eventually, it was determined that I probably didn't kill that woman with my truck, since I was on another continent at the time. I had an identical problem when I applied for the renewal of my driver's license. Fortunately, all the authorities knew that someone had "stolen" my social-security number, and that someone in the Virginia system was busying himself with falsifying records.

"Stealing-Identities" was easy, in my case, since I was born dying (didn't come home from the hospital until I was almost two), and had never been issued an actual birth certificate...just a "certificate of live delivery", with the legal name "Baby Boy Terry"). When I'd turned 16 (we still had draft registration in the mid-seventies), getting a social security number had been difficult and required the help of our senator (whom you should recall from the Watergate trials).

I've had more "identity theft" problems since then (none, oddly enough, involving cyber-stuff). Presumably, I have to worry about my social security (for whatever THAT'S going to be worth 25 years from now) going off to various, unknown folks.

Well, enough chattering from me.

---Dzavid Terry

david terry said...

As for Celia Rivenbark( and I am obviously, really, and completely avoiding unpacking stuicases, bathing dogs, and getting back to 'real" life)?....

You should follow your good instincts look up Celia Rivenbark (she's on the Google). I love her. Like Dolly Parton (born and raised forty miles form my hometown), Rivenbark didn't get anywhere-she-is or get to have anything-she-has by waiting around for someone to hand it to her. Both women make it clear that, after a while?....you get a little tired of mealy-mouthed thanking folks for something you got on your own, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.....

Oh....as a woman who's made her own living over many years? You should like this....

I was sitting next to my mother once (about six years ago) when Dolly announced "Oh, I knew, back when I was first starting out and I'd walk into those Nashville Music-Business offices?....all those men were looking at me and thinking 'DUMB BLONDE'. Well?...I couldn't care less. They could think what they wanted...'cause I knew for ONE that I wasn't 'dumb'....and the second thing I knew was that (and at this point Dolly looked down at her own zipper) I wasn't a blonde, either...."

And, then, she added "and I'd walk out of those meetings, and it'd be half an hour later before those men turned around and said "What in the hell did we just sign for that woman?....."

Level Best as ever,

David Terry

quintessence said...

Always nice to know that there is yet one more way to communicate with you!! I also use Tweetdeck - it's a dream for a multitasker - you can do so many things at once! And too funny - I used almost the exact same analogy of moving forward in my response to you on my blog. So - I'm already following you and have sent you an initial tweet!!

Karena said...

Dominique I understand completely ,we have moved forward though. I am trying to figure out on Blogger how to get the little link buttons under my posts!? I have tried through the design page to no avail.

Bruce thank you for the Twitter tip!

Onward bold bloggers!!

Art by Karena

Val said...

Delighted to hear you've taken the Twitter plunge! I've been checking to see if you'd pop up there. I think you'll enjoy the challenge of 140 characters. I'm also a writer, and find paring down and paring down some more quite satisfying. My email signature includes the quote by Pythagoras "Do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few." And that's just 60 characters!

Anonymous said...

As an avid follower of yours since your first House and Garden, I must say I am disheartened that you are moving beyond your Blog. Yours is only one of two blogs I follow as I prefer traditional print and the relationship I have with it. I follow yours as it is the only current way to "keep in touch" with you (not to say your books are not well dog eared). Every House and Garden reading was accompanied by a pot of white tea and Tchaikovsky. It was an experience, a luxurious pleasure, an indulgence to escape. Now we are compromised to flight among numerous websites and blogs never settling. Maybe I am a stalwart ludite that feels that technology has a valuable place in our lives but I want it to be limited in my personal affairs. I still do not have a cell phone and my collegues and boss cannot imagine how I manage to be the most efficient and effective employee at work. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Unfortunately, much of the change I see is not what I want.