Tag Archives: Internet

The Trojan Unicorn

23 May

I’ve come to you this week in a bout of confusion and ecstasy.     

Seven short days ago, I was at work having a rather terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Honestly, that’s usually the case if it’s a weekday and between the hours of 8am and 5pm.  All times outside this window are sprinkled with pixie dust and merriment.   But seven days ago was different.  Because as I was encroaching on the final hour of my workday, I received an email from someone I didn’t know with an attachment I instantly loved.  And it changed the course of my life’s trajectory forevermore.

Well, maybe just for the remainder of the workday. But that’s still pretty epic.

At first, I was hesitant.  Typically, if I don’t recognize a sender or if there’s no subject line I instantly trash the message.   But I was feeling adventurous and clicked on the note in a bout of carelessness.  There was a name and a non-spammy looking email address and what looked like a hand-drawn attachment (dear non-gmail users: gmail lets you thumbnail preview attachments. come drink the google koolaid). And since I just couldn’t stop my rabid curiosity, I opened it and found this:

I have no rights to this image except that I adore it. If you own the rights, please email me back. WHY WON’T YOU EMAIL ME BACK!?

Yes – that’s a baby unicorn being tickled.  And it’s amazing.

Now, as my longtime readers will recall, I have a doppelganger who lives in California and who has an email address that must be strikingly similar to mine because I frequently receive emails that are intended for her.  She is a constant source of frustration in that she won’t email me back and is apparently friends with a bunch of people who don’t feel inclined to say thank you or sorry when I reply to kindly let them know they’ve reached the wrong person.  That’s why when I received a receipt for 25 of her students to attend mini golf in California, I considered grabbing 25 of my friends and going to mini-golf in California.  But it wasn’t really fiscally responsible.  And I guess a little vindictive.

Anyway, it is quite possible that this ticklish baby unicorn was meant for her.  

But those longtime readers will also remember that California Doppelganger Jackie is the antithesis of Jackie Blog Jackie.  She likes to go places and do things and run and has blonde hair and tan skin and surfs.  I don’t like any of those things.

I only actually know about half of those from the emails.  The others I intuited.

But given that she is so far away from the core of my personality, is it really possible that we both share a love of this uncontrollably ticklish baby unicorn?  I think not.

There is, of course, every possibility that someone doesn’t like me, reads my blog, has gathered that I harbor a love of such things, and forwarded a “Trojan Unicorn” if you will, that has downloaded a big awful virus to my computer.  That’s entirely possible.  Which is why I have saved this baby unicorn in several places in the event that my computer is wiped out.  I will win, Trojan Emailer.   You can take my files but you cannot take my newly acquired baby unicorn.

I’ve also considered the possibility that this person reads my blog and actually likes me.  Or is indifferent about me and just hopes I’ll blog about their unicorn and make them famous.  There’s no way for me to know because I ran the full Jackie Stalking Program on this email address and I came up with a whole lotta nothin’.  There are profiles similar to this handle, but no actual content to the profiles or followers associated with them.  A reply to the email containing the attachment resulted in complete 7-day silence.  So with nothing to go on but my imagination, I’m spinning my own stories.

It could be possible that this *was* indeed intended for someone else and this person is embarrassed that I intercepted something so adorable and unicorn-y.  

…Or maybe I’m looking at it wrong and it’s baby unicorn porn.

Well, look at it.

I mean… it could be. It really could be.

Now it feels a little dirty, doesn’t it?  With the Lisa Frank 90’s treatment and a little Marvin Gaye on in the background, it’s downright criminal.

It’s a baby, after all. It should not be sexually exploited.

Anyway, enough about baby unicorn porn.  My point is that I love it and that no one has claimed it.  So instead of hoarding this random wonderfulness to myself, I have bestowed it upon the unholy magical Interwebz.  May it find a home.  Or an owner.  Or millions of adorable-loving fans.

But hopefully not baby unicornphiles.  That would be criminal. 

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I Should Have Been a Cat

14 Mar

It would be nice if everyone could just stop being so super awesome and successful at everything for just a gosh golly minute so I can gather myself and catch up.

Don’t you feel like you’re constantly being bombarded with news of other peoples’ awesomeness?  I do.  And it’s usually people my age being awesome.

Do you know who topped the Forbes list as the number one highest paid musician in the world?

Taylor Swift.

That’s right: the Swifty.  A girl about my age who picked up a guitar and started writing mediocre love songs is a billionaire and topped the Forbes List over a band like U2.   Or how about the Olsen twins?  Two chicks also about my age who are billionaires, icons, and own their own fashion line.  Or how about Lindsay Lohan?  Also my age, except unlike Swifty or the twins, she now makes money for being so awful at things.  

And for taking off her clothes and getting wasted and whatnot, but you catch my drift here.

In fact, some of you may recall my campaign to host SNL over The Lohan, wherein I compiled a list of reasons I would be a better host than her.  And you know what? I was right.  I would have been a better host.  But it doesn’t matter.  Because in spite of the awful reaction she got from people all over America when she hosted, her episode had the 2nd highest ratings of the SNL season.  She’s so successful at being unsuccessful that she’s successful.

How can I possibly compete with that?

I shouldn’t care, but I kind of do.  After all, how can I see list after list of people who are in their 20’s shooting into stardom because they made a Ryan Goseling tumblr or a site featuring cats who spell things improperly, or a page that documents what students say on hiking trails without somehow feeling like I’m missing some great calling to create something stupid and phenomenal that whips me into an Internet sensation? 

This cat sleeps for almost the entire day and is still currently more famous than me.

I blame the Twitter Machine.  It’s feeding me information so quickly about people who are young and fabulous and full of society-altering ideas and thoughts and it makes folks like me feel like they’re at the back of the herd.   I’m the limping, cross-eyed zebra of the magical Interwebz, where young, blossoming starlets and dashing entrepreneurs are tweeting the view from the front of the pack. 

I should probably just disconnect.  How can I possibly feel like I’m accomplishing anything when Twitter is throwing top 10 lists of awesome possums at me and Facebook is constantly updating with engagements, marriages, house/car/pet/job acquisitions, and (Lord help us) creepy sonogram photos?   When the world is constantly shouting at you the things that others are doing that are perfect and lovely, it can be hard to remember that we’re not all going after the same things and it’s okay to not be an OlsenLohanSwifty.

We just have to remember that we’re all on different paths.  Mine is to have a blog where I talk about how I don’t like to do laundry so sometimes I just buy packs of underwear instead.  Or how people leaving long voicemails makes me want to scoop my eyes out with a melon baller.  Or how life is too short to get nervous about pooping in public restrooms.   And while that’s not as profitable as a celebrity fragrance line or a TMZ headline or penning young chick country songs, it serves a noble purpose that only I can serve.

Because somewhere out there, someone has lots of packs of new underwear, a hamper full of dirty clothes, and reads my blog to feel better about it.

Keep on keepin’ on, person somewhere out there.  You’re doing just fine.

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Warning: Online Dating Profiles May Lead to Flirt Messages from Your Dad

7 Mar

Well, guys who are old enough to be your dad, anyway.

As it turns out, I’m the world’s most recent member of MarriageMindedPeopleMeet.com.

The site is exactly what it sounds like and no, I’m not a willing participant.  My doppelganger signed me up.  You know, the one from California? I wrote about her some time ago.  Her name is also Jackie and her email address is separated from mine thanks to only one tiny, almost-indistinguishable period between her first and middle name.  And every time her classmates, favorite stores, and organizations overlook that tiny, important dot, I get sucked into her world.

She’s basically everything I might be in another plane of existence.  She’s from California, where my parents used to live.  She likes to hike and bike and accomplish various outdoor feats, the majority of which have confirmation numbers associated with them and are sent to me.  I can’t tell if she teaches or is just in grad school; I just know that one time I was sent an email asking for that day’s class materials to be resent.  She’s a class-attending, surfing, active California girl – the opposite of my pale, Central Pennsylvanian roots.  We’re two diverging shoots from the same name seed…I’m also in a steady relationship and she clearly is not.

It started with the account confirmation email.  I threw it in my Spam folder thinking it was just another runaway email intended for her but the correspondences kept coming.  My profile had been successfully set up, my matches were ready for review, and then suddenly: I had a New Flirt Message.

This is how I feel when I see I have a New Flirt Message

Since I already know so much about my doppelganger, I figured I might as well take the opportunity before I unsubscribe to see the sort of preferences she had locked in for herself.  I opened the email to find the faces of men in their 50’s with salt and pepper hair staring back at me, looking for love.  Her/my username? “Beachgirl” with some numbers behind it.

Figures.

The entire experience has been rather traumatizing.  Not just because the unsubscribe link sent me to the fifth circle of hell where I had to log in before I was allowed to unsubscribe, but also because 50’s men with salt and pepper hair is a category my own (married) father falls into.  And every day I’ve been receiving Flirt Messages from a group of fellows who could pass for his inner circle.  Their little internet portraits are lined up in a row and they’re all staring at me with lonely, wanton eyes. 

Of course like most oddities that cross my path, I considered leveraging it for the blog.  There were a variety of inappropriate uses that I mulled over, including a sidebar widget with my most recent matches.  Or the option of allowing my readers to fill out my profile and choose my picture. 

But I have limits, people, and fake-flirting with men twice my age in order to entertain my reader base is apparently one of them. 

Of course, poor Jackie California is over on the West Coast trying desperately to connect with this group of square-faced beady-eyed men and wondering why no one is flirting back with her.  And while I’m kind of quietly satisfied at this because she has failed to change her email address or to indicate to her contacts that the dot in its middle is crucial to delivery success in spite of my notifying her of my email interceptions, I’m also hoping she’s not taking it to heart that no one is getting back to her.  After all, she works out.  And tans.  And lives the good life we see on t-shirts in verse form.   I’m sure she’s lovely-looking for a middle-aged stubborn woman.

So if you’re out there and listening, Jackie California, know that this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me not being into my dad.  One day, I hope you’ll understand. 

Until then, let’s finally change that email address of yours, hmm?  I’m not really the Stranger Danger type and These Flirt Messages are starting to give me panic attacks. 

P.S.  The Lohan hosted SNL on Saturday.  She got the 2nd highest ratings of the current season but also got some of the worst feedback of the season.  Apparently, a lot of people tuned in to see her fail.  Lesson learned: when seeking fame, one should just as well abandoning attempts to be awesome and begin attempts to famously suck. 

Stop SOPA, Save the Unicorns

18 Jan

I was going to post today but I like the magical Interwebz and I feel like you do too and I thought I should take a moment to point out that we might want to work together to save the magical Interwebz unicorns.

Some other people put it a different way.  You can check out their version here:

http://vimeo.com/31100268

Thanks for taking a few minutes to edumacate yourselves.  And for helping the pages you visit stay online.

Fellow unicorn lover,

Jackie 

Facebook: A New Frontier in Social Awkwardness

10 Aug

Facebook is getting so awkward, isn’t it?

Personally, I can’t take the pressure.   It was bad enough when our parents, aunts, and uncles began to join.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I still manage to forget they’re in my contacts and I say something wildly inappropriate only to be scolded seconds later.  Then all these apps and games and silly questionnaires came through and all the sudden I’m forced to virtually break up with my friend because she won’t stop telling me to water her virtual crops.  Sure, I could just weed through my privacy settings and try to block app invites, but if my friend is the kind of person that constantly bugs me to water her fake crops, do I really want to be her friend anymore?

These are the sorts of hard-hitting questions I’m faced with every time Facebook ‘upgrades’.

Things got even more intense when Facebook leveled-up to real-time updates so that when you stare at your mini-feed you can actually see someone’s comment post at the very moment they do it.   And now, the ultimate mega stresser: Facebook chat.

It could be the super awkward hermit in me, but the chat is where I draw the line.  The beauty of Facebook used to be that it was casual and cool.   People could post on each other’s walls at their leisure.   In a world where the weight of a cell phone text or an email is so heavy that people expect a response immediately, Facebook was the one place I could still go if I wanted to socialize at a relaxed pace.

Facebook relaxation is now dead to me.

When I log on, I have updates that need tended to.  I have people commenting on pictures or saying hello or writing on my wall to ask me to hang out that same day.  I have messages from friends who haven’t caught up in a while and think email is too impersonal.  And sometimes while I’m tending to those things, someone is online at the very same moment and responds immediately.  Immediately! Then there’s all this pressure.  Do I have to follow up? Can I go log off?  They’re on.  They see me.  They know I updated only 5 seconds ago; it’s stamped right there in cold, gray text. I can’t possibly just leave – I have to finish the conversation.

I also have to manage my status updates.  Because if I tell a friend I’m too busy to hang out one night but I update my status at 8:35pm saying how much I love Arrested Development, it’s voluntary incrimination.   It doesn’t matter if it’s on in the background while I’m working.  It doesn’t matter if I thought of a funny episode and it wasn’t even on television.  That friendship is doomed.  

Doomed.

Don’t even get me started on birthdays and engagements.  Talk about stress! Seriously?! Every year on my birthday I have to be wished a happy birthday by hundreds of people I haven’t talked to in ages.  On one hand, it’s nice to feel loved.  On the other, you know that if any of those people really cared about your birthday they’d have called.  Or written.  Or emailed.  And now I feel inclined to follow up with them to see how they are, but I don’t know if they were really reaching out or if they just wanted to hop on the birthday bandwagon.

I don’t even recognize some of their names.

I’m not the only one who feels this pressure.  I know it.  Because not long ago, some dear friends of mine got engaged.  And while I was relishing in the happy moment with them, they admitted that they were quite exhausted because they had to be sure to call every single person that was even remotely close to them to let them know they were engaged before those people saw it on Facebook and got offended that they found out online and not from them.

You see? What are we doing to ourselves?!

So no, Facebook, I will not be utilizing your ‘Facebook Chat’.  The last thing I need in this too-accessible age is to log on and be immediately available to a thousand people, try to figure out how to end conversations with everyone because I don’t want to deal with them, and then worry about what to update my status to that will be amusing but also not indicate that I was having too much ‘not-too-busy-to-chat’ fun.

Lord help us; Facebook will be the end of us all. 

Eli Pariser: How Internet Personalization Feeds Us Junk

7 May

One of the occupational hazards of life as a hermit is spending an absurd amount of time considering the intricacy of mundane scenarios.

For example, yesterday I blogged about how no one should trust salad.

And lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time considering only marginally more merit-worthy: something on I dub “Mini-feed Missing Persons”.

For quite some time, I have been wondering how it’s possible that I have about a thousand Facebook friends and yet see only a fraction of them in my mini-feed.  I could blame the privacy settings folks might have, but I’d venture to say I have well over 100 friends who are okay with me knowing every single aspect of their Facebook lives.    I don’t say this because I’m full of myself.  I say this because the majority of my friends are involved in theater, and theater people are open to a low, dirty fault.   You know, for the most part.

Besides, Facebook changes its privacy settings so often that even if you started out incredibly diligent about following up with your Account Settings every time an update was made, by now you’ve probably loosened up.  So what’s going on? Why am I only able to easily stalk a fraction of the friends I actually seem to have a connection with in my virtual society?

I started listening to TED lectures because they’re incredibly addictive and mind-blowing in new, brain-stretchy ways.   If we could replace some of the absolute filth on television with a TED talk or few, I’m quite certain that the average IQ and general decency of society would gain 10 quality points (which, on the imaginary quality scale I just made up right now, is a whole lot).  And in my recent run-in, I found Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”

In my not-so-witty-and-straightforward summary, the idea behind Eli Pariser’s discussion is that user-generated content and targeted advertising are based on a junk food mentality.   The algorithm that determines what we click on most often is actually targeting what we click on first.   And that what we click on first tends to be junk food for the mind – which are the ideas we already know and like, or sometimes even trash and guilty indulgences.  Eventually, we plan to get to higher-thinking activities and pages but over time it will be determined for us that we will click on the junk food most happily and most readily – and so all  that’s given to us is junk food.   Pariser relates the concept to our Netflix queue and how typical queues will show guilty pleasure movies being moved to the front and intellectual better-yourself movies and documentaries to the back.  He says, “We all want to be someone who has watched Rashomon but right now we want to watch Ace Ventura for the fourth time.” 

And wouldn’t ya know- after all this time I’ve been thinking of this Facebook friend void seemingly in my own little hermit mind, Eli Pariser comes along and talks about it as well:

“Take his Facebook page, for example. Pariser used to receive comments and links from readers on both sides of the political spectrum. Then one day he noticed his conservative friends had disappeared; only links from his liberal friends remained. Facebook, without asking him, had seen that he clicked more often on links from left-leaning friends and simply edited out the rest. The site used an algorithm that hides from view the kinds of content it has determined, from your past activity, that you are less likely to interact with.”  – Excerpt from an article by Kim Zetter for Wired.com Ted 2011:Junk Food Algorithms and the World They Feed Us.

And so that’s what’s happening to all my Facebook friends.  This new age of personalization on the Internet means that if I never wander over to that old high school friend I’ve been meaning to get in touch with and instead check up on my promiscuous neighbor, I will find my mini-feed devoid of said friend and chock-full of half-clothed, drunken neighbor.

What’s my point?  Twofold.  First, TED lectures are awesome and you should look into them.  You could start with the one I’m referencing.  It’s ten minutes: try it. 

Second, my Facebook friends are not more visible because apparently at some point, I stopped checking up on them.  As a result, they’ve been systematically weeded out.  I actually have to search through my friends list for a name instead of just reading the mini-feed? Preposterous!  But hey – mystery solved.

And listen – I know that I’m a millennial and all, but this affect everyone, not just mini-feed-crazy Generation Y.   You’re reading this blog, you use the Internet, and you probably use Google.  And it might be interesting for you to know that if you’re a conservative from Idaho and your buddy is a Liberal from Alaska, you can type the same search term into Google and be fed completely different search results.

I don’t know whether to be in awe or fear of the potential consequences.  What do you think? 

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