News By Phone Call: A Boomer’s Further Adventures in Social Media

Sunday night my husband and I had knocked off for the evening at 8 p.m. to watch a rerun of episode of “The Borgias” that we had missed last week on Showtime. At 9 p.m. we took a break to get ready for bed. At 10 p.m. we sat down for this week’s episode of sex and violence. (“The Borgias” has great production values, but it’s really bad television.) At 10:30 the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID, saw it was my son, and was actually a little annoyed. It was kind of late, and we were watching sex and violence: Jeremy Irons plays the part of the Borgia Pope and continually hits the sack with beautiful young women, that is, when one of the other characters isn’t stabbing or poisoning some villain or poor innocent or hitting the sack with someone else.

“Osama Bin Laden is dead,” my son said.

It took moments for this to register.

“The president is speaking soon,” he added.

(I admit that I was so stunned that I made the Obama/Osama slip of the tongue, much to my family’s amusement.)

So now we had to switch to CNN. When it because clear the President wasn’t speaking for a while yet, we turned back to Showtime and watched a bit more sex and violence.

A phone call. Here I am Ms. Social Media of the Baby Boomer set, and my source for this huge story is not Twitter, FB or even all the news sites I keep up on my browser or feeding into my RSS. Pretty old school, I’d say.

“There will be people going to Ground Zero and Times Square, probably Rockefeller Center, too,” I told my husband.

“Why?” he asked. I mean, seriously, it was kind of too late at night to get dressed and go outside, even to share such a meaningful moment.

This morning when I got to my desk, where, by the way, I had left my iPhone overnight (another handy social media device), I looked through nearly 1000 tweets and figured out that if I had been watching my Twitter feed, I would probably have known by about 9:30 p.m. Many of the reporters and news agencies I follow on Twitter (meaning I get to see what they are tweeting) were already saying that Obama was giving a speech. The speculation ran the gamut from the capture of Qadaffi to the death of Joe Biden. But the general consensus was that the USA had taken out its most wanted mass murderer.

Did I mind that this historic event had slipped past me when I disconnected from the interwebs? Not really. But then again, I almost got out of bed to tweet something on the order of, “Why have we thought OBL was hiding in a cave?” Indeed, that did become my FB status at one point Monday. (A smart ass friend from college suggested that maybe it had something to do with Plato’s metaphor.)

As for not being part of a celebrating crowd of fellow Americans—even before Obama’s speech I pointed out to my husband how young the people gathering outside the White House seemed to be. Monday morning, through Twitter and FB, I found out that many Gen Yers I know who live in and around D. C. were there. In the video clips taken at Times Square I saw faces of kids’ friends and friends’ kids. Not my friends, though. It was 11:30 p.m.  I suspect that like me they were about to go to sleep. Rob Lowe was probably the oldest person in the crowd.

Pundits have suggested that, ironically, Bin Laden’s lack of tech presence may have led to his discovery. It was his couriers who were tracked, and his compound had no Internet or telephone. A CNN article from September 20, 2001 notes that Bin Laden had already dropped off the technology map and was not using satellite phones in an effort to stay off the radar (literally). (See http://bit.ly/kB2e7R, “Bin Laden Exploits Technology to Suit His Needs”) There are going to be a lot of questions needing answers that we may never get: how could a mansion in an area outside an important city in Pakistan, a suburb that’s home to the military college and many retired Pakistani army people, one that didn’t even sport a TV antenna let alone satellite dish, go unnoticed? These days, it’s lack of technology that stands out.

News sources tell us that Sunday night, “Twitter exploded.” (For typical hyperbole, see the Huffington Post “Osama Bin Laden’s Death Leaked Via Twitter,” http://huff.to/ixDfyk.) Egypt and Tunisia had their “Twitter Revolutions.” Now we have had our Twitter . . . our Twitter . . . ? Yes, my Twitter feed had gone nuts, my Facebook page was afire. Me, I was in my nightgown, waiting for our President to speak. And then I went to bed.

Look for me on Twitter: @wordwhacker. Or find me on FB. Linda Bernstein. I have a “profile” and a “page.” You can like the page.

Which brings me to: I have such a clever “handle” for someone who has made her living as a writer and editor. But @wordwhacker doesn’t really fit into my Baby Boomer branding. Should I change it? To something like @GenB2? Let me know in your comments.