Tweetle dee dumb
March 22, 2016
For years my sisters and I have poked fun at my dad’s inability to understand technology of any kind. "He needs to call tech support to turn off his alarm clock," I’ve often said.
My sister’s response is usually something like, "Yeah, and he’ll look up the number in the phone book."
My dad, bless his heart, simply does not want to evolve. He has a flip phone, circa 1992. Which matters very little considering he never has it on. He’s a landline kind of guy. He doesn’t know how to text. He can barely handle the TV remote. Having GPS in his car is silly, he thinks. "Why do I need that? I can just look at the map!"
My mom tried to teach him how to use the Internet once, but she quickly forbade it when he opened the spam folder and downloaded all sorts of viruses to her computer. "I wanted to see what the Prince of Nigeria had to say," was his defense.
Now he calls one of us when he wants to get online. And his instructions are nothing if not amusing. "Amy, I need you to punch this into the computer," he’ll start. "WWW. Got that? Okay, so it’s three Ws, and then a period and then D-E-L-T-A and then you have to put another period and then C-O-M."
For years, my sisters and I have shared many laughs at his expense. But this weekend karma bit me in the butt. I am my father’s child.
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This became evident to me on Saturday when I was told I had to get on Twitter. I went to a writer’s conference and met with some book agents. I excitedly told them about my book and the first question I was asked was, "How many followers do you have?"
"Don’t you want to know how many words it is, or the reviews I’ve gotten or how it ends?" I thought.
Yes, they did, but more than that they wanted to know about my Twitter presence. I admitted I didn’t have one. They gasped.
"Look, your book sounds fabulous and we’d love to represent you and find a publisher. But first, you have to show you’re willing and able to interact with readers. Get on Twitter and we’ll talk."
It wasn’t the advice I was expecting from a literary agent at one of New York’s premier agencies, but I figured she knows what she’s talking about. So I set up my account. It turns out, writing a book was easier than figuring out Twitter.
I inherently don’t understand it. I realize it can’t be that hard if Donald Trump can use it, but as far as I can tell, no one communicates in a complete sentence. There are all these symbols you need to interpret: RT, @SoManyAcronyms #WTF #WhyIsThisSoConfusing?
I need my Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring to understand what anyone is trying to say.
On top of that, I’m a big fan of real words and proper punctuation. So Twitter inherently makes me cringe. On Twitter: "You are my best friend" becomes "@mybestfriend U R my BFF #besties #YSK."
I don’t get it and I don’t like it. But now, I’m part of it. And I find myself desperately looking for a 14-year-old to explain it to me. Who knew having a teenager handy is the key to landing a book deal?
You’d think the more time I spend on Twitter, the easier it would be to get the hang of. But so far, I just can’t get over how dumb it makes me feel and how dumb it makes everyone look. I realize you have to abbreviate if you must communicate in 140 characters or less, but it still makes my heart long for the days when an AP Stylebook was the standard.
But I know, I #MustEvolve. Follow me @amycroberts.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.