Dear Self

Learning Outcome #2: Improve your ability to communicate in electronic environments.

Dear Self: Congratulations on Not Sucking Completely

Dear 14 year old Jen,

Probably, you are checking your Myspace right now. Making sure the vibe of the music matches the moody aesthetic of the layout. Making fun of all the “scene” kids and their dramatic eyeliner, reversed in mirrors half obscured by the reflection of the flash. You can only have up to 8 photos, so you choose wisely which ones to put up and which to display as default. And that about you quiz is of course a must; you know, the one that asks what your best physical feature is and you have to answer, “idk, eyes?” because it’s all about the eyes on Myspace. You even have one of those virtual pets on there that visitors can feed bread to (Beast, the duck). You have a blog post entitled “Things that I hate” with “fat girls who think they are skinny” ranking fairly high.

Maybe you have a Xanga too, or a Live Journal. You use AIM (AOL Instant Messager) and Tahoma is your default font, not Comic Sans, which is for assholes. Your profile has some lyrics from the Red Hot Chili Peppers: The world I love
The tears I drop
To be part of
The wave can’t stop
Ever wonder if it’s all for you

Or: Come on God do I seem bulletproof?

My point isn’t actually to make fun of you.

Though, to be frank, I wish you could read this and get your fucking act together. Unfortunately, that train has come and gone. My point, rather than to (completely) ridicule you, is to give you a little bit of credit for not sucking completely at communicating on the web. For, you know, a 14 year old.

In 8 years you will know less about HTML than you do now. You will be more out of touch with producing, and more in touch with consuming, um, internet stuff. The almost-advanced things that you know now and use to embarrass yourself on a daily basis, you will have to relearn later for practical reasons, in your last college course ever. Much of this is all in thanks to a little thing called “Facebook.” When you hear the word “Facebook” what do you think of? A flip book of a face making strange expressions? A face with words written all over it? The reality of it is not nearly as interesting as either option. In fact, this Facebook contraption will literally flatten your ability to communicate intelligently online.

It’ll happen in less than 8 years, so watch out, it’s actually more like 3. No longer will you have the option to code your page, to bold your words, underline them, add pictures, center text, use your creative teenage mind to give your page some too-cool-for-school flair. Such things are too complicated and burdensome, wouldn’t you agree? Facebook, in contrast, is all surface information – the pages all look the same! The organization is easy! All you need to do is spit out some words and pictures, and it’s “news” – Facebook regurgitates your petty triumphs and broadcasts it to your “friends.” Even better, Facebook will use this information you to hurl targeted advertisements at you. You literally don’t need a brain to use this website. The website is the brain, and you’re it’s little toe.

I’m not saying that in comparison, Myspace rocks. Nor am I saying “Keep the ignorant blog posts and chain letters coming! I love this shit! I eat it for breakfast!” Nope. Sorry kind; don’t, and I don’t.

I’m just saying, for a kid, at least you know this formatting shit– at least you are blogging. It will come in handy later.

I’ll tell you why: In about 8 years, you’ll be graduating college and looking to immerse yourself in “the real world.” “What,” you may be asking? “The marching band isn’t the real world? Babysitting isn’t a real job?” Again, sadly no. I could get into more warnings as far as that is concerned (don’t major in English if you like money) but that isn’t the point of this heartfelt letter.

In 8 years, you can say goodbye to emerging from college as a butterfly-novelist hybrid. Times have changed – the world is all web now, and you have to be a spider, not a fly, to control the web and not get caught in it.  That’s right, I’m saying those blog posts actually were great practice for “the real world” (aka “the real word” aka “the real wordpress”). But please, that comment about fat girls is completely out of line. And you can do better than “things that I hate.”

A day will come in which you will get the chance to redeem your amateur blogging and web creations; this time, you can learn them in a practical and meaningful way. You will learn how to use HTML, hyperlinks, customized layouts and of course your natural talent for writing (LOL) to participate within an increasingly electronic online culture. You will recover from the Facebook days that sucked out the creativity of sharing information. And maybe, someday, you will get a job (no guarantees here, if you still choose an English degree.)

On an unrelated note, you have a boyfriend now, so stop being a mopey little bi-otch and get with the program.

Lots of love and best wishes,

Jen from the Future

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