Facebook We went to an old friend’s wedding out in western New York, Niagara Falls to be exact. We hadn’t seen the bride, Mary Maloney, in, geez, ten years? So I thought, I should add her as a Facebook friend. Our friendship pre-dated the social networking madness phase, but like some hidden ancient city in the Amazon, had somehow remained untainted by contemporary technological friends. So, I thought, I should add Mary Maloney as a friend.

As you can probably guess, Mary Maloneys are legion. Like Mohamed Alis, John Smiths, and Mark Marinos (well, not quite).

In any event, I began to pour over the search results. This one’s 21 (nope). These 25 are blond (nope). Redhead (nope). Ah, here was one with a wedding photo. Promising.

Mary Maloney look at ma stomach…this is only six months i can tell im goin to be huge at 9 months
waitin for our bundle of joy to arrive
Mary just discovered their photo of the day
February 17 at 11:39am via Photo of the Day · Get your Photo of the Day

Hmm, my friend was not pregnant, but still I read on.

Mary Maloney patrick was acting weird this morning and the baby kick everytime he entered the room
February 17 at 10:19am

And then further up (which I must’ve seen first):

These results were displaying status messages, and I was floored:
Mary Maloney's status updates

Mary Maloney R.I.P PARTICK…cnt belive my dear husband is gone…i wonder how much life insuranc he left
February 26 at 6:37pm

This post was followed by some photos. Funeral. Public. Big. One of the photos had “LIFE” embossed on it.

Was this some famous Mary Maloney widow? Had I missed some huge civic funeral? Was a that culturally illiterate?

Who was this?

It took some more Googling, pursued with morbid curiosity, that hungry kind of search for tragedy, when I found this entry and realized I was looking at, not a sad set of stati, but a mock-up, a re-imagining, and, most likely, an assignment. I could see the sheet:

What would Mary Maloney’s life be like in the age of social media? Create a Facebook page for her and then write her status updates.

Unfortunately, seeing this adaptation, a fairly simple one at that, made me very depressed, much more depressed than thinking I had just come across this tragedy.

Maybe it was a mood I was in. My wife had just found out that one of her grad. school friends had died. She found out via email, but his wife had been blogging his decline.

Of course, that was devastating; this voyeurism, thrilling.

But then I realized, there must be a growing tower of Babel of writing assignments out there on the Internet. Not merely blogs and wikis, but experiments, fictionalizations, exercises in creative social media.

What’s even stranger is that they just live there, often unidentified, long since they’ve earned their credit. These math work sheets of writing, extra credit, that now await some stranger to happen across their radio-play recording of War of the Worlds (something I believe we staged in grade school). What happens when they’re done or when someone trips across them.

At the same time, I think of e-lit author Jason Nelson’s experiments with tucking creative pieces where you might least expect them on the web. And I can’t help but also think of Rob Wittig’s wonderful send-up “The Fall of the Site of Marsha,” which is one of the best send-ups of the early Internet style.

I’ve been tempted to try such stunts myself.

The Internet can be a very strange pile of discarded three-ringed binders and lined notebooks with bent ringed wire, Trapper Keepers. And maybe some of the old predictions are true — that we will be very productive readers, whether we are flipping through photo album’s our Facebook friends were tagged in or happening across an old exercise.

Writer’s Respond Thus: Who has come across (or written) some exercises, creative or otherwise, that could be mistaken?

2 Responses to “E(pherema)-Lit”

  1. 1 sep332

    http://www.blueful.com/ was written as a prelude / publicity stunt for Blue Lacuna. It spans various social networking sites, each telling a piece of the story and pointing to the next. It’s kinda fun to see the way messages can be embedded in last.fm tags and such :-)

  2. 2 Mark Marino

    Ah, Aaron Reed’s masterpiece. Nice, I had not seen these, thanks!

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