Issue #192 – “Socially Awkward” – August 8th, 2011

-There’s a simple app on my BlackBerry that combines the statuses of all my Facebook friends and everyone I follow on Twitter into one chronological list. I often scroll through it during my first shit of the day and it never fails to drive me crazy. If I see one more husband tweet his wife or one more girl post a picture of her feet in the sand with the caption “Love my life!” I swear I’m gonna go postal. Social networks have made everyone an exhibitionist – and not the good kind either; I’m talking the fat, daytime-shift stripper kind. It’s time to face facts: we’ve all become socially awkward.

-I had a day off before my show in San Francisco this year so I decided to visit some friends who work in Silicon Valley. My first stop was the Facebook offices, where I counted more bars than people over thirty (four to three). My buddy showed me his workstation and I was amazed to see that the keys on his keyboard were completely blank. The dude writes code so fast he doesn’t even need to see the numbers or letters. I just started shouting out random symbols – “Ampersand!” – to see if he could pick the right key. I’m pretty sure after I left he went straight to one of the bars.

-I’ve been going to my primary care physician for years. She reads my books and comes to my shows, but refuses to accept my friend request. I’m sorry but you can’t tell someone you’re concerned about privacy while checking him for testicular cancer.

-The next stop on my Silicon Valley tour was Twitter. Their offices are surprisingly subdued. There were no Ashton Kutcher sightings or even a giant clock counting the number of tweets, just a barista making pour-over brewed coffee and lots of hipsters being hipstery and skinny. If the Internet was a bar, Twitter would be drinking PBR and listening to bands I’ve never heard of.

-Last holiday season, I received an email that read: “Santa Claus is now following you on Twitter.” I’m telling you it made me depressed. Like existentially, Holden Caulfield-style depressed. Is this really what the world has come to? Life was so much simpler when I was a kid, back before anyone had to worry about getting a retweet from St. Nick.

-The last stop on my tour was the granddaddy of them all: Apple. Apple doesn’t have an office, it has a “campus.” And it’s fucking packed. I ate lunch in the corporate cafeteria and thought I might get trampled against the paninis. It’s also a total sausagefest. If the Internet was a bar, Apple would be the huge table of dudes just throwing money around.

-The most awkward aspect of social networking is when people who aren’t public figures are forced to describe themselves in a little Twitter bio. I cringe when I read something like: “I’m 24. I work in marketing. I like cheese and the Dallas Mavericks.” Really? That’s how you sum yourself up? Cheese made the list!?

-Of course, Facebook’s greatest contribution to society has been rendering the blind date obsolete. No more set-ups with a 9 face and 5 body. The only dilemma that remains is when to add the person you’re dating. If the guy initiates the friend request, he can come off too needy. If the girl quickly accepts, she can come off too slutty. And so the dance continues: millions of people trying to get laid on web sites built by people who never do.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Last week marked the sixth anniversary of my move from New York to LA. I guess time flies when the bars close at 1:30.

-I can’t decide whether people who CC themselves are neurotic or just don’t know how to use email. They do realize there’s a sent mail folder, right? And sure, if it’s a really important email I’ll occasionally CC myself for posterity’s sake. But every single time until your inbox is just full of emails from yourself? That’s OCD meets schizophrenia.

-For the record, if the Internet was a bar, Google+ would not be allowed in because it’s underage and kind of annoying.

-I grabbed my friend’s laptop to type something up real quick and discovered she doesn’t have Word. When I asked her about it, she said she just never installed it because she doesn’t really need it. Incredible. Imagine a life where you don’t even need Word. That’s living the fucking dream.

-The only time I enjoy talking about the weather is when someone other than me is experiencing a heat wave: “Wow, it’s 100 degrees with 100% humidity over there? Well, it’s beautiful here…so tell me more about how much you’re sweating.”

-After five years, I finally cleaned the filter in my air conditioner. It was a pretty grim sight. I assume that crud was caught from outside air coming in, and not from the air in my apartment flowing out, because none of my Glade PlugIns come in “amorphous gray gunk” scent.

-The NFL lockout and the debt ceiling negotiations were remarkably similar: both narrowly averted crises, both revolved around abstruse financial regulations, and both managed to create a new pastime for millions of people to watch: rich people arguing.

-True friends can always interpret each other’s text messages. I got one this weekend that just read: “shit shoe.” Translation: “I am wasted and it is a shit show.” Response: “I’ll be there in 5.”

-And, finally, last week’s column about religion (or lack thereof) drew an enormous response. About half of the emails I received were from fellow atheists who applauded my stance. Many others were from believers who wrote to say – quite eloquently I might add – that though they disagree with my viewpoints, they respect my right to express an opinion. And the remaining handful of responses was from – how do I put this politely? – absolute fucking lunatics. They either tried to convince me that there is a God – which I love because every argument just makes religion seem even more balls-out crazy – or warn me that my heathenism would be punished by God’s wrath (apparently he – sorry, “He” – has got plenty of time on his hands). I posted the best messages on Facebook and the resulting discussion led me to the conclusion that, religious or not, people just want the freedom to believe (or disbelieve) in peace. I could not agree more. But please understand that nothing will convince me that God exists. Well, that is unless he starts following me on Twitter. Fuck me.