PANAMA HAS ALL THE ANSWERS!: 5 or 6 Ways Technology Has Changed How We Communicate

[Admin Note: For inspiration, on occasion, I'll peruse the ghosts of writtens past. This post is a rehash and update of something I wrote nearly 5 years ago to the day. Amazing how timely it happens to be. No. Seriously. It's also amazing what was omitted 5 years ago because it just wasn't that big a damn deal at the time and yet the spirit is still as relevant as ever. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.]

The ultimate "let you know I'm creepy" social media move.

The ultimate “let you know I’m creepy” social media move.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, technology has changed the landscape of interpersonal communication. Long gone are the days of walks in the park and looking somebody in the eye to end a relationship.


Hyperlinks to beaches and palm trees you’d sit under if you could afford to take your loved one there and text messages or emails saying that a relationship just isn’t working out. Which, for the latter, isn’t exactly a bad thing considering the increasing nutcasedness of both men and women lately.  Shucks, you tell the wrong person on the wrong day that you don’t want to date them anymore and you might end up in the hospital with lead poisoning and an email box full of hate mail.

Remember, interpersonal communication has changed. The phone calls come, but the emails do too now. Which brings me to my point. Many of the things that we used to find ourselves doing are now being moved to the world wide web.

There are quite a few ways that communication has changed and since I’m in such a giving mood, I decided to share a few of the ways us human internet geeks (and if you are reading this right now, that means you) have begun to interact with other people.

1) Drunk IMing/Facebooking/DMing

Long gone are the days of strictly drunk dialing people. Now, we have the drunk IM convos where you divulge the same things, just with serious syntax and spelling issues. Par example…

luvmejubblies65: hey tashta…i mis u
mynameisnotsusan: You don’t miss me, you ruined this. I told you I never want to talk to you again. Leave me alone.
luvemejublies65: babie, i want us shuld haf sum kidz…i did wron but dat doesnt not change the fak we us can be gud twogether and itz not jus the lickher talking
luvmejublies65: lickher…LMAO…dats funy
mynameisnotsusan: Die, Dueteronimarcus! Die!

He’ll hate himself in the morning, but that’s what happens now. Folks trod in from a night of drinking and jump right on the computer and head straight for their buddy list.

Tragedy is just a font away.

1b) Smartphoning

Smartphoning sounds very dumb. But nowadays, with so much no-filter-ruin-your-life-in-5-seconds-or-less technology out there, folks don’t even have to wait to get home to get completely ratchet. Now, with your phone and your impulses at your fingertips, all of the ratchetness that your heart desires can be dispersed almost immediately. Sometimes I think God laughs and cries at the same time for creating Samsung, Steve Jobs, and the QWERTY-keyboard. Ugg and Uggeisha didn’t have this problem.

2) Stalking

So you know how people send out those mass emails with everybody’s email on them? And as opposed to Blind Copies, they just either send it To everybody or CC folks. Now you’ve got nut cases out there who find your email and send you a little “Hi, I just wanted to say hello” email.

Harmless right?


Because soon after, assuming you respond in the first place, the emails become more frequent and start requesting information or conversations or underwear. Then they start telling you they know where you live and why won’t you email them back or call them since they are being so nice to you and are really a great person they just need a chance but if you don’t they’ll be forced to do something drastic like play a game of Hangman Online just to show you what could happen if you don’t ever at least email them back…hang that is, not play word games.

And all of that from the comfort of their living room.

[Amazing that I wrote this five years ago considering circumstances that have happened since. I'm motherf*cking clairvoyant. I'm the ratchet whisperer.]

And speaking of strange emails…

3) Awkward-Situation Inducing Conversations

Have you ever been having a conversation with somebody and you think they are hinting that they are interested, but you just aren’t sure?? Well, it seems people have figured a way to make this happen online too.

How?? I’ll learn you.

Say you meet somebody and you are emailing back and forth. How you meet is of little consequence, let’s just say you all have exchanged email addresses since people do that nowadays. So you email back and forth. Every email is ended with your name or their name.


After a full day of email full of laughs and information, its time to go home and somebody does the one thing Amerie-style that gets you trippin.

What do they do??

You really have no idea??

Of course you do…

…they add their signature, complete with phone number. And of course, it clearly denotes their cell phone number.

Do I call?? Why did the signature show up now? Will Jay-Z release another album? Do brown shoes go with orange pants?? Did she put the number on there on purpose?? I mean if she wanted me to call she would have said to call…right??? Do I go? Do I stay? Which way is up????? SOMEBODY TELL ME!!!!

Utter confusion.

4) The Facebook/Twitter/IG Add

To this day, I still don’t understand the concept of poking. I’m not even sure if you can still do that or not. But you know how folks used to have speak in person or miss the opportunity (potentially) forever. Not anymore. As long as you have their name you can do the most passive aggressive game of “your move now” tag ever: add them as friends on Facebook. Or Twitter. Instagram is a little harder since so many folks have private pages. But if they add you on FB its pretty much the same thing since everybody filters their pics from IG to their FB page. Point is, its a way of saying, “I noticed you. And I wanted to put you on notice that I noticed you noticing me too.” Which then leads down the rabbit hole of interest-chicken and who makes the first move via FB messaging or DMing, etc. Oh romance, how ye have evolved.

5) Memes and .gifs

No lie, I probably speak more in memes and .gifs nowadays than I do with actual words. A picture is worth a thousand words and I’m lazy. If there’s a pic I can send that will convey the message I’m trying to convey, it’

These are just a few of the things that have resulted due to technology and the internet.  What are some other behaviors that have been altered due to technology?


My Completely Irrational, Illogical, And Borderline Insane Hate For Inspirational Messages

Shut the f*ck up

Shut the f*ck up

It happens at least twice a week. Actually, let me stop lying. This shit happens to me five to seven times everyday. 

I’ll be minding my business on VSB or EBONY or, drinking lukewarm lemonade, eating salmon and fried eggs, and sitting in the Gay Reindeer’s pink robe because it’s cold in our house and she’s a vampire and she refuses to turn on the heat until the temperature falls to 37 and her robe is warmer than mine, and I’ll decide to check Facebook to see how many cool people liked my latest status message.

When finished counting the likes, I’ll check my newsfeed to see how many of my friends are sharing articles with words like “appropriation” and “intersectionality” in their titles, and I’ll might even hold a mini-contest in my head to see who has the day’s best humblebrag.

***Actually, this is also a lie. If I did do a daily Facebook humblebrag contest, the exact same guy would win everyday. It is not a game with his humblebrag game. Seriously, he’s the type of dude that would say “Man, was rushing out the door and forgot to brush my teeth. They’re so straight and white that I forget I still need to do it sometimes. #mybadcolgate #forgivemetoothfairy #blessed”***

But, right in the middle of all this fun, someone named “Pam” or “Greg” or some other shittily annoying bitch-ass name will decide to bless the universe with some shitty-ass, meaningless-ass, taken from the cafeteria toilet paper at a Hallmark distribution center-ass inspirational status, and I will want to reach through the monitor and garrote them with a USB cord.

I know this hate is irrational, illogical, and borderline insane, but something about seeing some f*ck-ass share an inspirational picture, a shittily “uplifting” quote, or some “deep” message that Gandhi probably tweeted while he was throwing erasers at kittens makes me want to hurl, clean the hurl up, put it in a paper bag, set it on fire, piss on the fire, and leave it in their mailbox.

Perhaps I’m too cynical to believe that some Fisher Price platitude is actually going to inspire anyone. Perhaps I’m so cynical that I assume anyone who regularly sends messages like that are just trying to deflect attention from the raped otters buried in their basement. And, perhaps I’m just not a good person, and my not good-ness is annoyed whenever someone is openly trying to better themselves.

Either way, if you happen to see me, and you happen to think that “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart” or some other Hellen Keller-ass f*ck shit is going to cheer me up, unless you feel like getting shanked by an expired YMCA membership cardplease happen to keep it to yourself.

Anyway, people of VSB, am I alone here? Does anyone share my disdain for the inspirational message? If not, are there any other “good” and “nice” things you have an irrational hate for?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

The Digital Dating Era Isn’t All Bad


This gallery contains 1 photo.

(The Champ’s latest at Ebony explains why some of the hang-wringing over “the death of courtship” may be overblown.) Now, I’m not here today to necessarily dispute the findings and first-hand accounts found in each of the recent articles decrying the death of … Continue reading

No Social Media, No Thank You.

Believe it or not, I still know people who utilize no forms of social media. Now this “people” is a relatively small group of individuals, but they exist. Now because I’ve known those folks for years and years, I trust them.

But let’s say I’m out in these streets – because I’m usually out in these streets doing things that people out in these streets do – and I meet an individual lacking either a Facebook page, a Linkedin profile, Twitter or Instagram, and well, I’m throwing more shade than Oprah in 1995. Hmm…y’all know how people differentiate between Fat Luther and Skinny Luther as to which version made better music, has anybody ever done such a thing with regards to Oprah? I’m guessing no. But that would be a worthy project for a communications major.

Real talk. No R. Kelly.

Back to the lecture at hand. I’m not sure I’d fully trust anybody who attempted to leave no digital footprint short of their email accounts. It just makes me nervous, like you have something to hide. Now, the irony of this is how often people lie on the Internet. So while I don’t trust anybody who has no footprint, I also cannot trust what I see from the majority of folks who do.

Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Panama Jackson.

You know what else makes no sense, despite the fact that we all make so much information readily available, we still get freaked out when we find out people are taking a look at all of it. I remember many moons ago, a young lady I was seeing made it clear that she’d looked thru my FB page and then went thru all of the pictures of my sisters. While this is all completely legal, it seemed creepy and stalkerish. Now, as it turns out, I was more upset that she informed me that she was a stalker as opposed to her actual stalking. Some things you should keep to yourself, but as many of us know, when women are interested in you, they like to gain as much information as possible and in doing so tend to be extremely inquisitive about your life and everything in it. With that inquisitiveness comes a remarkable ability to remember details…while leaving keys in the refrigerator or a purse in the chimney.

I’m not so sure why men aren’t that way. I think when we like a woman we just like her as is, the details aren’t as important. Sure we like to know you aren’t a murderer but we assume that if we’re interested, the details are just extras. Men? We stupid.

Where was I? Oh yes, so despite all of this information being available, I’m leery of people who make it clear that they avail themselves of all accessible forms of social media. Instagram? They know what date you and time you posted that picture. Twitter, they’re reading that like a hawk. Facebook…well shut the front door.

Conversely more, you know what else I don’t quite understand? People with all of this social media sh*t and it’s all padlocked. Now, I get to some degree why its necessary to privatize your information. And for a vast many people, FB and Twitter is a way to communicate with people they’d not likely communicate with, so I suppose it makes sense to some degree. But it does seem like if you’re going to be apart of the community, just do it with open arms. Sure, I’ve had blog posts stolen and pictures jacked and I’m pretty sure…wait for it…

…Brick killed a guy.

(I haven’t done that in a while.)

But I’ve also met some great and terrible people online that my life wouldn’t be the same without; people I’d never have met if I locked myself off from the world. So if I meet you out and all of your sh*t is private, I’m also giving you the Panama Jackson Epic Side-Eye and assuming you’ve got something to hide. Either that or your tremendously boring. There’s no way somebody who is insanely entertaining is locking their profile. If you tell a joke and nobody is there to hear it, is it funny? Methinks not. So if you were interesting, there’s a good chance that your profile would be public so that others could validate your entertainingness. That’s the first commandment of blogging: Thou shalt be narcissistic.

Y’all think I do this for you? No, I do this for me so when I look in the mirror at night I can say, Pretty Petey, you did that. Not coincidentally…

…that’s what she said.

(Are you still reading and wondering what the hell just happened in the past 754 words? Mr. Me Too.)

The point is, even though you can’t trust anybody via social media, you definitely can’t trust anybody who isn’t up on social media. Unless that person still uses any of the following services that may or may not exist: MySpace, AOL, BlackPlanet anything, etc.

So what say you? How do you feel about folks without a social media presence online? Would you date or actively get to know somebody who informed you that they just don’t get down like that (I realize that’s a dumb question when stated like that…on the list of dealbreakers its an odd one…but would it make you suspicious in 2013?)? If you don’t involve yourself, even in Facebook, why not? What’s the 411, hon? You got it goin’ on? Yeah I got it goin’ on.

Talk to me. Petey.


Is Social Networking Making Us Socially Awkward?

***Yup. S. Nicole Brown is here again.***

I noticed it one day while walking from class.

Making my way across the  common area of campus on a beautiful sunny day, the sounds of the latest Top Forty blaring from a speaker behind a DJ booth asking people to sign up to volunteer for the next “save the world” project, I looked up from my phone, and looked around.

What I saw, kind of jolted me. Every single person that passed in this very busy area of campus, was looking down at their phone. I realized I had walked halfway across campus without one lifting my head up away from my phone, and noticed everyone doing the same. Watching people swarm around me in a rush to get home or to another class, I realized we had all so mastered the art of texting/tweeting/status-liking while doing other things, that we were on a sort of real time auto-pilot while our virtual lives kept our attention.

So of course, I took to twitter to state publicly my observation, and continued to walk with my head down, and on my phone.

From that day on I noticed more and more the absence of eye contact or basic human interaction when walking into stores, restaurants, on campus, at home. Everyone was seemingly more interested in tweeting and status updating about what they were doing, rather than enjoying the actual experience of what they were doing.

Still, I thought it was odd, but didn’t really realize just how dependent my generation and younger folks had become on social media interaction until I began meeting e-friends and associates in real life. Meeting someone in real life whom you only know online and believe to be super dope, is so exciting. You think about all the fun you’ll have when you finally meet, all the jokes you they’ve said that you’ll laugh at even harder in person.

And then you meet, and your entire image of them is shattered. They are quiet. Or uncomfortable, which makes you uncomfortable. Painfully shy, creepy, or just plain rude. You almost want to send them a direct message and ask if everything is okay with them, since they seem to have had the personality drained from them and you like their virtual one much better. A friend of mine went to a blogger meet up once, and described the behavior of several people as “lurking in real life.”

It’s a weird realization to come to that the very medium meant to foster social communication and connections, could be stunting us socially. More and more people seem far more comfortable to “poke” you or RT you than to call, or say hello to you on the street. People get keyboard courage and fire off statements that they wouldn’t dare say to those very same people away from their screen.

And as awkward as it is for me as a thirty year-old person to get over this, it’s so much worse for the teens and early twenty-somethings, who don’t know a social world beyond high school without smart phones and facebook and twitter. Those people that literally say “LOL” when they see something funny (my younger sister did this for an entire year until i threatened to end her life if she didn’t learn to laugh like a normal human), or think exchanging subtweets and nasty statuses is a way to solve an argument– while sitting in the same house (also witnessed this happen. With grown people no less). I feel so afraid for the youngins. So nervous that they will not know what it is to walk up to someone and say “hello,” or how to be somewhere longer than ten minutes without checking in on various social networks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of social networking. I’ve met a good number of close friends from just being interactive online (including P to the Jay and Champness). But there needs to be balance. Social media makes it possible to spend an entire day talking without uttering one word. This to me, is scary. Nothing can replace the importance of being able to read body language, of knowing proper ways to interact in different social settings, having self-awareness, and the joy “friending” a stranger can bring through a surprisingly painless face-to-face conversation.

S. Nicole Brown (aka “Muze”) is a writer of fiction, lover of words, and chronic reader happily living the clichéd under-spaced and overpriced life of a NYC writer. You can find her in 140 or less @muzeness or on her blog, Because I’m Write.

***Check out “Yes, Monogamy IS Unnatural (…and so is everything else we do)” — The Champ’s latest at***