A couple of evenings ago, my cell phone jangled me out of my concentration. I don’t get a lot of calls—peopled generally text or e-mail me—so it jarred me away from reading a story someone asked me to critique. The call was from my daughter telling me a gentleman had left a message on her answering machine (in San Francisco) for me (who lives in Idaho) to call him. “Something about Marines and movies,” she said, “and I wonder how he got my phone number.”
I called him (he lives outside of Austin, Texas) and left a message and he soon called back and wanted to talk about a young Marine we both knew who was killed on March 28, 1968, during the siege of Khe Sanh. One of the most interesting aspects of this moment was that he was the second previously-unknown-to-me individual with whom I have talked about the death of Greg Kent. The first one occurred last August when Betty and I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to take some pictures and videos. It was an early Sunday morning, before the late August heat and humidity stewed enough to sweat us dry-skinned Boise folk back into air conditioning, when we ran into a man looking for Greg Kent’s name on The Wall. Unlike the gentleman who called me, Greg and he had not been friends in the Marines, but had run high school track together in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Both men loved him much, but for different reasons, and that’s a subject for another blog. What interests me here is that this all came about because of social networking.
I must confess that unless I was in a bar, tuned up with Coors, Rumplemint and Johnny Walker, I was never much of a networker, choosing to spend my time in a corner not talking to people. So I have little experience as a networker and for most of my life have felt that the social networking realm was best left to bullshitters and sales folks.
Yet, my definition of social networking is getting wider by the moment and includes meeting people through centuries’ old methods such as being pleasant to someone you meet out in the world (which is how I generated the Greg Kent conversation at The Wall), to YouTube videos posted on the Internet. The latter is where the other guy who called the other night got wind of me and what I am up to….or what Betty and I are up to. Making movies, writing blogs, making YouTube videos of poets, video book reviews. I teach writing classes on-line, have a webpage (more than one if I think about it), and a Twitter account that I am still not sure how to best use. I use FaceBook and have found it a reliable way to generate interest in most things.
So, what’s my point?
I’m not sure and maybe I’ll figure it out on the way to sizing up the importance of blogs and Twitter at which I am toiling today. And in that vein, I also cleaned up my website spam accounts, one of the more bizarre head-busting aspects of the social networking world. Spam messages from people seeking to get me to link to their websites. How dumb am I? I guess pretty damned dumb considering the list of e-mail monikers and messages that showed up in the last few days in the comments section of my web pages. Some examples of this type of social networking follow:
Smoking Side Effects
Something written in Cyrillic script (stuff that looks like….њЩЦѲд) and I have no clue what it means, or whether it is Serbian, Russian, ancient Bulgarian or something sent to me in Greek.
1 Shopping Cart
“When I saw the title of this post, I found it silly.”
Tattoos on Wrists
“I will re-use.”
and finally, Horny Bitches says, “I like this blog, is a master peace.”
Peace or piece? You’d think that someone intent on enticing me to allow them to link with my sites would have the good sense to make it look like they can spell better than I can.
Anyway, it’s social networking. I think it works. I know it works in some cases. For instance, the Internet is one of the great democratizers of the 21st Century. Witness Twitter, YouTube and FaceBook in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya. People can communicate, show video horrors, mass demonstrations. And like all forms of the new mixed with the old, delivers a variety of results, truth and lies, good and bad.
I’m pretty satisfied with my dive into the social networking arena; it earned me conversations with men who knew Greg Kent in different contexts than I did. Twitter and YouTube seem to deliver results even though I get cryptic messages in some form of Cyrillic, or misspelled messages from Horny Bitches.
Now that one might get me out of the proverbial corner.