It has recently been brought to my attention that I am on Suzanne Vega’s radar screen.
You know Suzanne Vega, right? American folk singer/songwriter of such classics as “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner?” If you went to college in the early 1990s (like me), you almost certainly remember the remix of “Tom’s Diner,” the one by DNA that emerged from the underground scene to top music charts everywhere. It’s probably still the most improbable hit on the R&B Top 100 ever.
Yes, that Suzanne Vega. And as I already mentioned, I am on her radar screen.
Why would Suzanne Vega know who I am, low-woman on the totem pole of unknowns carving out writing careers while raising children? All I can tell you is that she mentioned me ON THE INTERNET not once, not twice, but THREE times since Monday.
Okay, okay, yes, there’s more to the story. The truth is that I am only on Suzanne Vega’s radar screen because I dissed her on Twitter. Sunday morning, I tweeted: Husband making me listen to Suzanne Vega. Help.
Before you pass judgment, allow me to explain. It was a lazy Sunday morning in suburbia. The gas fireplace whispered warm air my direction, the scent of fresh-roasted coffee wafted around the room and I curled up on the couch to play Trivia Crack on my smartphone. Sounds pretty good, right? All that was missing from my little sensory feast was background music apropos of my mental capacity at that moment—i.e., low. Alas, my husband got to iTunes before me and queued up something of his own choosing. Poof! I heard the opening strains of “Left of Center,” my brain synapses fired and memories of my adolescent malcontent from when “Left of Center” was released bubbled to the surface. It was, in short, a total buzzkill.
Don’t get me wrong; I like Suzanne Vega (I do, @suzyv, I really do!); I just wasn’t in the mood for Suzanne Vega that morning. It’s akin to choosing an episode of “Castle” over “True Detective.” One is decidedly higher-quality, but also requires more of me cognitively. So it was with Suzanne Vega that morning. I need red wine for Suzanne Vega. And maybe a little Patchouli.
Subsequently I sent a cheeky tweet, more or less aimed at my husband (who may or may not have been coincidentally beating me at the aforementioned Trivia Crack) and pretty much assumed that would be the end of that. It’s not like I have a big following or anything, and I didn’t even use hashtags or official mentions. It was destined to be nothing more than a lone tweet in the twittersphere.
Until Suzanne Vega replied to me two days later. No sympathy from me, hon. (smiley face)
Can you believe it? Suzanne Vega not only saw my tweet but took the time to mock me and make her amusement public. She even tweeted an afterthought. Other people joined, retweeting and favoriting her tweets in solidarity, and rightfully, I got my due. At least he has good taste!! Ouch. But yes, yes he does.
Until then, I had somehow forgotten that ‘Suzanne Vega’ was a real live person whose name I had used in vain. Fortunately for me, my tweet was relatively innocuous and Suzanne Vega has a great sense of humor. Still, it reminded me how easy it is to be irresponsible with what I say or do online. With three girls to raise, one only months away from turning 13, the official entry age to social media, I badly needed that reminder.
So to my three girls, here is what I hope you learn from the time that Suzanne Vega tweeted your mother:
- Names belong to real people, regardless of how well-known or unknown those names are. When you reference someone by name in a tweet, email, text or any form of online communication, do so with as much respect and consideration as you would to their face.
- Anything you say online, at any time and to anyone, can be searched out and found, whether today, tomorrow or years from now, so make sure what you say is worthy.
- Not all your thoughts and observations—funny, noteworthy or otherwise—will be that interesting to the rest of civilization. Feel free to post them anyway, but refrain from judging your self-worth by who heard, listened or replied.
- As a corollary, I will always be your biggest fan. Period.
- You may mess up now and then; most everyone does (even if they don’t admit it). When you do, make amends and move on. You are more than any one social media gaffe.
- And finally, remember that you always have a choice when confronted by negativity, online or off-. I hope you choose maturity and a sense of humor like Suzanne Vega. I know I did!