Monday, April 6, 2015

Cooler Online

There are some great things about the internet but some ridiculously dumb dumb things (like this blog). Lately I've crashed into some moments that remind me that the internet is best used to keep track of life, not to have one there.  There was an odd phenomenon at a runner's happy hour where these three cute girls who I met that night spent and I'm not exaggerating 25-30 minutes of the roughly hour and a half taking selfies with their purple margaritas in different poses, taking them, retaking them, editing in order to be able to post them online and then spent a fair part of the next hour telling each other who was liking them... Maybe it shows my age but if you're spending the entire 90 minutes of a happy hour sharing it with people who aren't there and seeing their reactions of it... that's not my definition of happiness. I'm not saying social media is a bad thing since I'm a guy who posts on here too much and on Facebook too much though I've still not quite understood instagram (shows how square we are?) or twitter (I'm not good with limited characters) since on both of those I have more followers than post. I just think wouldn't it be better if it reflected a good reality not created a fake one where you spent more time creating your posts than people spend reading them or clicking on them?  Watching the March Madness game it was amusing to hear Charles Barkely talk about how the internet is where fools go to feel important (Oh Yeah! Duke is in the finals. Some people sent me congratulations which felt both odd and cool but my favorite one was Duke wins, congrats boy who lived. I've had a few nicknames in my life but that's definitely one of the top three. Oddly enough my bracket still is likely to come in second by one point and the bet I will have lost may be soon be reflected in my online life with them choosing my outfit for Facebook profile pic).
I've certainly had my moments where the internet is intriguing to me. The ESPN interviewer, perhaps just as a way to warm me up for the interview under the old guise that flattery will get you everywhere said he was intimidated by having read some of this blog. Then he interviewed me and I think was less intimidated because one on one sitting across I'm a lot less (not at all) impressive. If I'm completely honest, I get pretty pumped when I use lumosity and get into my top 5 scores or highest score ever on any games, especially the ones where I notice my deficits are getting better. But... BUT... those things only matter to me if they translate into something in real life. Like when my roommate and an old friend who I see regularly say they notice some things showing signs of progress. I try to take this concretely like with one of my New Year's resolution was to not use notes in speeches until I regretted it this year. It was also to make my speeches "better" whatever that means. I'm 3 for 3 and honestly the crowds that intimidate me the least are the runners, the media, and cancer ones which essentially signed up to be there. It's kids whether elementary, high school or college that are the ones that scare me the most since well they don't generally do courtesy laughs. Still in the only place that has had me speak three times, that premed
organic chemistry class, I had the nicest introduction I've ever received (the professor's daughter had introduced me once to another audience too and even offered if any of the single ladies wanted my number so they're obviously a cool family). I landed the speech without any major faux pas but I tried something new.. A joke that I use often here and in speeches with cancer audiences is "Statistically speaking I'm not likely to make 40 but statistics are like bikinis what they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is vital." Then I usually end it with and I don't see anyone here who wouldn't look good in a bikini to lighten the load of delivering news that reminds me and all of us of the reality of mortality. I'd actually never used that joke without a cancer audience nor had I talked about the long term prognosis because it just felt too depressing to people who hadn't really signed up to be there to be talking about my long term prognosis. But this time, I ended the speech with "And if there's any reason I keep running it's to keep fighting to be part of the minority who beats this... plus I want to look good in a bikini." And without notes as the students generally applauded while laughing (I think from relief that I was leaving the stage), I was grateful for that but also that lumosity scores mattered but that that was the best speech I'd given without notes since before brain surgery. I wondered if it was just me telling myself that but Dr. Iverson sent an email that if you'll allow me a bit of self indulgence read:

You were incredible!!! You are getting better and better at this.  One my TA's has seen all three of your presentations and said, "Wow, he is incredible now.  I cannot believe how much funnier he is!!"  Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.  I am positive you will inspire many of those students just as you inspire me and my whole family.  Best of luck training for Boston. I was serious by the way, we will be tracking you during lecture on April 20!

He had mentioned they would be tracking me during the lecture and since the race is on 4/20 I said it was fine by me as long as they weren't tracking me while using organic chemistry. I'm not sure if I'll be invited back since making marijuana jokes while walking out of a college class might be pushing it further than I have yet. I imagine no matter what the weather is in Boston two weeks from today if I am running correctly at all, I'll be cooler by people tracking me indoors than I will be running a marathon outdoors... literally cooler. Still, if you're online and at races as often as I am, with all the cameras at finish lines, someone caught me on camera kissing a girl at a finish line (of course only time I'ver done it after finishing a race, what are the odds of that). They posted it online and my mom approved, so that's good right? I assure you that while that's available to view it was not cooler online. Well maybe it was cooler online cause it was a pretty hot kiss...

But like a good party, or the right shot of tequila, I hope internet connections are good social lubrications (and here the 7th grade version of me makes jokes about lubrication; actually if you want a pattern the blogs are usually are never reverent but they are far less so after media pieces hoping that anyone who suddenly finds me on the internet realizes that there are better people to keep track of). All of those things can turn bad but are not that inherently. Most of us need a little extra courage to dance better or ask for that girl's number. Sometimes the internet helps me seek out generic advice or help that would be annoying to do so one person at a time. It was entirely through social media that life was kind enough to have me hit $1000 for first descents as a connection with the Boston marathon. And more than once I have used it to figure out new songs for race playlists and I'm always amused at the variety of friends and recommendations that come (if you have one for Boston, send it now and send any song cause the one I'm about to talk about is from 2007 and I'd never heard it!). Most get put in a list of songs to consider since you know iTunes can't make infinite money off me but every once in a while, there is a song that immediately gets purchased. The title of this blog and a song on the playlist is from that request Online (if you go watch that it's a better use of your time than the last few moments) about being cooler online and the personas we put on there. It's a hilarious song still and if there's anything that I enjoy about the speeches it's the self deprecation.

I don't know if that "cooler online" is true for me but if it is I hope that its minimal... I hope the people and activities I love hear it more in person and one to one than in online posts. There is an old adage of confirmation bias that we tend to find people who will confirm what we say. I'm a mediator and sometimes that can be difficult because people don't listen to each other. Or I sat at a community organizing meeting about things facing the school district and got the only applause for the night when I said that maybe we should think about the bigger picture since in a pissing contest everyone gets wet. I actually think it's pretty cool that both of the executors of my will are polar opposite and have minimal online presence cause they stay too busy to post about it. It may well be that I still lack courage in sharing some of my emotions and that this blog is how I hide in public because someone at church on easter said to me they appreciate getting to know me better through Facebook... I tried to rectify that and invited them over to my house for a get together. So I hope as I listen to that song or anything else online that it's only a reflection of a real life not a creation of one. Cause I want to be cooler offline.

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