MY FACE IN YOUR SPACE
“Okay, Benny,” let’s do this. The fingers of the hunching figure flew over the keyboard.
I watched the two thick black eyebrows meld into one long caterpillar. The beady eyes squinted as image after image flashed across the computer screen. The scraggly goatee, drooping off the small pointed chin, looked like it might fall off at any minute.
Two laptops side by side formed the highway for the malevolent designs as imaginary lives and impromptu worlds were coaxed into being. An iPad, Blackberry, and a Smartphone with a Qwerty keypad sat ready. “Who should I be now?”
“Benny, my boy,” I said. “You realize that this stuff is addictive. People start being afraid that they’re missing out on something and they just can’t walk away.”
The crooked smile was obvious. “I’m just one of over 200 million. A face that blends into the masses.”
I could see the little scoundrel setting up those seven foundational blocks of social media. First an identity or two were built up, live chats were launched, sorry details of a sorry life were created out of thin air, a presence was established, relationships were built, a reputation was developed and membership in several groups became an easy reality.
“Benny, you know that if you keep this up you’ll start influencing a lot of young girls to question what they’ve always believed. And you know that at this time of year they’re vulnerable.”
I could see the lips in the reflection purse for a minute as if in thought. It didn’t last long. A few minutes of YouTube, a few clicks for LinkedIn, a contribution to Wikipedia on human trafficking, and the start up of a Facebook account or two. Icons and logos, pseudoblogs, random internet photos cut and pasted in place, a two minute dialogue on instant messaging between the two personalities created on the laptops and Benny was as real as he could be.
If there was a Santa Claus, I knew this bad boy wouldn’t even rate a piece of charcoal.
The caterpillar above the eyes began to dip in the middle and then almost separate in half. The voice escaping below was squeaky at best. “Two billion tweets before the holiday even starts. Two billion iPod application downloads next year. One hundred million Facebookers accessing on their mobile phones. Revolutions. Revolts. Revivals. The world awaits.”
The twin laptops were abandoned for a few minutes to get in a stretch. I stood looking down at the handiwork. “What about an EHow article, or something on Yahoo! Answers? If you’re going to be at the top you might as well go all in.”
When the door opened, sometime later that night, I jumped out of my chair. The light flipped on and I was blinded by the glare. It was Evie, my sister. I ripped off the false goatee and eyebrows.
“Howie, what are you still doing in here? Are you creating more of your bizarre Benny worlds?” I could see she hadn’t even taken her waitressing apron off. Her eyes were puffy as if she’d been crying again. She was always the big sister and she let me know it. “Why don’t you do something useful with your life like that guy from Holland who travelled around the world for free by using his blog. Why can’t you be a real person? Go to school. Get a job.”
Before I could shut down the laptops she shoved me out of the way and stood there with her hands on her hips. “What’s my face doing in your space?” she yelled. What are you doing with my life? Who are these people you’re connecting me to?”
I had to smirk as I grabbed my jacket and raced out of the house. Since mom and dad died in that car accident, all she did was work and boss me around.
Social media had saved my mind and soul. Just today I had connected with a great young pastor at a church across town. Whether my sister knew it or not she’d been hooked to the guy. I was about to change her life.
I could still hear her yelling from the doorway a minute after I’d gotten around the corner. I flipped open the cell phone and began to send a text. “Pastor Paul, why would God take my parents?” Evie.
I sat and awaited his reply. Social media had saved my mind. Maybe it could help save my soul.
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