In this couple's hectic lives, social media is not the message

February 25, 2010|By Susan Reimer

Some say Twitter is the 21st-century answer to Post-it notes.

Not at my house.

As working parents, my husband Gary and I have ridden the waves of technology in an effort to keep the lines of communication flowing. But the voyage from paper sheets to pithy tweets has been pretty rough for two split-shift journalists tag-teaming our way from diapers to college diplomas.

We began by talking through notes posted on the TV screen in the kitchen, the front door knob or the windshield of his car. Any place I could be certain my husband would actually see them.

"Put the casserole in the oven, 30 minutes at 350. Soccer practice pickup at 8 p.m."

Then voice mail arrived, and it was perfect for those conversations you didn't really want to have in person.

"Do you think you could put the finishing touches on that Pulitzer Prize-winner and get home to help me with these kids for a change?" I am pretty sure the blinking message light on his phone gave him a facial tic.

E-mail didn't go so well for us, either. Gary never wanted to do anything but "reply" because he said he didn't want to start conversations he'd feel obliged to keep going. Like at a bad cocktail party or sitting next to some yakker on an airplane.

When our jobs required us both to sign up for Twitter, my DH (Web speak for Dear Husband) didn't really seem to get it. So proud of his four followers, he didn't blink when I mentioned I had snagged 600.

"Well," he said. "Jesus had only eight more than me, and he did fine."

He also didn't understand that Twitter was not a vehicle for talking to each other. Twitter was for talking to everybody else.

While he was away on business, I posted a status update for my followers - "Pizza, white wine, PJs and 'Burn Notice.' Life doesn't get any better"- and his feelings were, like, hurt.

Gary thought I didn't miss him when he was out of town and posted an update of his own, mocking mine: "Cheese- steak, rum and coke and deadlines. Life could be better."

"This isn't about us," I said, exasperated.

When I tweeted about my curling iron, he tweeted about curling at the Olympics, and I felt ... oh, I don't know ... used.

When he tweeted about "angry tangos" in ice dancing, I tweeted about feeling like I was in a remake of "True Lies." But he didn't get my Arnold Schwarzenegger reference, and I was annoyed.

My daughter just rolled her eyes at our Twitter talk. "My parents," she said drolly. "Soooo twenty-ten."

The kids are grown now, but this busy couple is still searching for the perfect way to communicate. Cell phones, left on vibrate at the other end of the house, don't seem to be the answer, either.

Because Gary works so late, I often leave dinner out for him, lightly covered with a paper plate. (He'd never look for it in the fridge.) And the paper plate usually carries a handwritten message: "Recycling tomorrow. Take out the newspapers." Or "Cleaning ladies tomorrow, get out early."

Lately, there is often a heart drawn on that paper plate, with my initials inside. And in the morning, the note will have been expanded to include another heart and his set of initials.

I'm not sure, but for the first time in our hectic lives, we seem to be sending the right messages.

You can follow Susan Reimer on Twitter @susanreimer. You can follow her husband @garymihocesusat

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