After only a week on Instagram, my dog has 28 followers, which is annoying, as it took me about a year to get that many people interested in this blog. Of course, my dog is much cuter than I am. More specifically, pictures of my labradoodle puppy, Autumn, are much cuter than these paragraphs when scrolling through social media feeds on your phone. No matter how well-written, these lines can’t compete with a ginger puppy.
I started the Instagram account when friend Jen told me her dog, Sadie (sadiemaesaderson), has over 4,000 followers and gets gifts from her fans. Yes, people mail her presents, and not just domestically. She gets treats sent “par avion” from around the world. I like the idea of getting free stuff, even if only for my dog, so I was happy to set up the account (autumnislay). I assume it will take a while to amass a Sadie-like following, and I fear international celebrity status will require me to embed lots of clever hashtags in the posts to tickle the fancy of social networkers around the globe (#cutelabradoodle, #sendmepresents, etc.). That’s problematic, as I have not fully grasped the hashtag concept. I know it has something to do with Twitter, but my understanding of that is based largely on tweets by the President and, therefore, strikes me as a dubious form of communication, at best.
I don’t understand why people get so excited about poorly-written 140 character, or less, dispatches and photos of pets. I suspect my failure to appreciate Twitter and Instagram is a consequence of being old. I could easily begin an old-man-style “get off my lawn” rant about wishing more people were interested in pausing to read a few carefully wrought paragraphs rather than succumbing to the easy pleasure of scrolling through digital photos of cute dogs. By the way, while I assume there are other images available on Instagram, most of Autumn’s Instagram friends are canine and, as a result, her feed looks like a series of Please Adopt Me posters from the local animal shelter.
I must be cautious not to overstate my frustration with America’s lack of interest in reading beyond the 140th character. While I am a regular reader, I confess to spending a much larger percentage of my time watching TV. This has only become worse with advent of another technological innovation: streaming media. It always starts innocently, healthily even, as I select a series on Netflix and cue up one episode each morning to accompany my workout. That’s right, I’m lifting weights or doing cardio circuit training while Frank and Claire scheme in D.C.’s halls of power or Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Eleven try to rescue Will from the Upside Down. The action and intrigue on the screen helps ease the strain of the workouts, and I get to see an hour of good drama each morning. That’s how it goes until I get to the last five or six episodes and develop a desperate need to know what happens. At that point, when the weekend arrives, I abandon my family and hide in a corner with my laptop, headphones, and a good Internet connection until the available episodes run out. When I surface from that dark place, I feel a modicum of shame and try to avoid diving into the next series too quickly. I might even read a book. I have friends who binge-watch without embarrassment, and I almost admire them. I wish I could relax that deeply, but, alas, I’m old and can’t bring myself to fully surrender to the youthful arts of social networking and streaming media.
I was reminded of how old I am last week when I realized I have been working for my agency for twenty-five years. I am still coming to terms with what it means to have spent a quarter century (OMG, as the kids say. They still say that, right?) working at the same place. If I had a better memory, I might be able to more happily wallow in the pride of having contributed a bit and accomplished a few things over those years. I know I’ve done some good, but I’ve still got a hell of a lot of work sitting on my desk waiting for me on Monday. Rather than stress about that, I think I’ll check Autumn’s follower count and dial up the next episode of Colony.
Merry Super Bowl, Everyone. Cheers!