A Dry, Flammable Material

“Seriously, what is with people these days?” he asked, swiping left.

I looked up from my novel. I was reading Les Misérables and enjoying it. “Like, in general or is there some specific complaint you have against people?”

“Specific. Specifically, these people on the Internet.”

“There’s a lot of people on the Internet,” I said.

“I’ve been using this social networking app for a few days now,” he said, turning his phone around to show me a screen mostly filled with an overexposed photo of what looked like a woman rock climbing. Her name was Tara, and although the number next to her name read 26 she looked closer to 42. He turned the phone back and tapped the screen. “Get a load of this: ‘I’m looking for someone who can keep up with me on my adventures. Into kayaking, hiking, climbing, and getting into mischief. No players or hookups.'” He snorted, and swiped left.

“Sounds like she knows what she wants,” I said.

“Does it? Here’s another: ‘Sexy, curvy, confident globe-trotter. Need a partner in crime. No hookups.’ A bunch of pictures of her voluptuous form perched on various rocks in the wilderness and one of her ample cleavage in an evening gown somewhere.” He swiped left.

“Are you questioning the veracity of these profiles?” I asked. “It’s likely that a good number of them aren’t even real people.”

“I know that. I wasn’t born yesterday. It’s the ones that have a good chance of being real that scare me. Oh, here’s a good example that takes it to a whole other level. She’s included her Instagram account name, so it’s obvious she’s here for the maybe sex, maybe love, but definitely the chance that she’ll expand her social networking reach. Let’s just take a look…” He swiped, dragged, and tapped, and I knew he was copying and pasting. “You want to bet real money that she’s a ‘social media coordinator’ or something like that? Probably has a picture of her wearing a t-shirt that proclaims ‘I AM ME’ or similar. Ah ha!” He turned the phone to me with a triumphant snarl on his face, and sure enough this woman with cropped blonde hair was a ‘social media expert’ and wore a ‘BACK OFF’ tank top that showed just enough of her tattoos to imply sexy edginess.

“Click her Facebook link,” I said.

He turned the phone back again and tapped. “She’s a ‘Public Figure’ with a few thousand likes. Lives in LA. Her latest post is a bullet list of how-to’s for social media. My guess? Aspiring actress or comedienne or something, and this whole mess is the equivalent of serving tables somewhere hoping to get discovered.”

“You think agents are scouting based on the quality of their online presence?” I asked.

“It wouldn’t hurt to be Internet famous. You still need to be able to act or make people laugh, but it’d sure help with getting those feet in the door. Just kinda sad to see the pursuit of fame writ so large and obvious. Traceable by mere mortals like myself. You can watch a million stars fall from of the sky, extinguished forever for lack of a follow, like, or a leftward swipe.” He tossed the phone onto the table. “Let’s go get pancakes.”

2014.12.27 – 2023.07.29

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