OP-EDS

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February 27, 2004

Leila shapes her Internet presence

I don't talk on AOL Instant Messenger much any more. It used to be my primary form of communication—I have literally hundreds of pages of AIM conversations saved from 10th grade. Why did I not just pick up the phone and call my friends? Unclear. I think phones seemed, at the time, passé. Phones were the straight-legged jeans of household appliances, whereas AIM was obviously the technology of the future, much like robots and no-stick pans.

I'm older now, and wiser, so I use my computer time more productively, like waiting for Friendster profiles to load and googling kids I knew in preschool. I'm still logged on to AIM all the time, though, because I think it's important to have a solid Internet presence. I hope someday to have such an impressive Internet persona that I'll never actually need to leave the house. But to cultivate this image, you need to have a really, really cool AIM profile.

For a long time, I had a Family Guy buddy icon. Family Guy sends a clear "I-am-so-fucking-cool-you-can't-fucking-touch-me" signal, which meant that I could have namby-pamby away messages and they came across as "ironic."

Recently, though, I changed my buddy icon to a picture of Rob Thomas, the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty. There was a reason for this switch, namely that Rob Thomas is really hot. And I love him. And someday we will get married, because of how he loves me, too. And then, you know, babies, home equity loans, fighting over who does the dishes—all the other perks of marriage.

These were obviously compelling arguments, but even in my love-struck state, I recognize that icons of rock stars make me look like a teenybopper. And you know who's not cool? Teenyboppers. The day it becomes cool to wear sparkly shirts that say "slut" across the chest, trust me, I'll be right there with you. But until then I have to maintain this air of being 19 years old and dignified.

So now I have to compensate for my girly buddy icon with really bad-ass away messages. My away messages are like, "Yo bitches—I'm doing laundry HARDCORE."

Isn't that frightening?

Meanwhile, I have decided that my AIM profile is the spot for intellectual discourse, like Shakespeare, or biology. Unfortunately, I know only a limited amount of intellectual things, so my profile changes maybe three times a year. This infuriates my friends. "You've had that Emily Dickinson poem in your profile for approximately 20 bajillion years," they inform me.

"But doesn't it look smart?" I counter. "Don't you just sit there and ponder its meaning for hours each day? I mean, her dog, the ocean...her dog...what can it mean?"

"No," respond my friends, who are, by the way, much more intelligent than I. "We understood it the day you put it up. Find something else smart."

But I can't find anything else smart because the only things I ever read or hear nowadays are Andrew W.K. lyrics. In case you have never listened to the genius that is Andrew W.K., here is a sample: "Let's get a party going. When it's time to party we will always party hard. Party hard, party hard, party hard..." (repeat ad infinitum). This is, as I'm sure you can tell, a fantastic song. It is all I ever listen to. But, strangely, it does not make for an impressively smart-sounding AIM profile.

Not that I doubt Andrew W.K.'s intelligence! God, no. He has this rant on his website ("www.andrewwk.com":http://www.andrewwk.com), and I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who, on more than 35 grams of cocaine, could write anything even approaching W.K.'s level of subtle analysis. He is clearly a man among men.

Also: apparently if you buy his new album, you receive a personal phone call from the man himself, Andrew Fucking W.K. WOW. I don't know what I would say to him, though. "W.K., dude, how do you manage to find so many party-able hours in one day?...Oh, it's just all the uppers, huh?...Well, that's kind of...predictable."

Ideally, he would I.M. me instead of calling me. That would really cement my status as the goddess of AIM. And how hardcore would it be for me to quote him in my away messages? "AndyWK (12:41:16 AM): PARTY HARD, LEILA!"

Sweet.