The Misadventures of a Social Networker: Beginnings of Madness


3 am, early Sunday: After enduring a seemingly endless night of fake smiles, blank stares, and weak drinks courtesy of Club LeWack, I kick off my glittery, 4-inch heeled Louboutin knockoffs. In one smooth movement, I peel off my gunmetal bandage dress and sink into my plush king-size mattress. Frantically, I reach for my laptop, open my browser, and  type in my username and password. As my ConnectNow (CN) home page pops into view, I breathe a satisfied sigh as I take another hit of my online crack. 

My eyes dart across the screen, anxiously searching for updates. "Let's see...Mom posted yet another one of my embarrassing middle school pics. Oh joy." I continue to scroll down. "Aspiring singers, rappers, and models. Who all still live at home with Mama. Yawn." One post from the artist known as H.A.M. (Hard as Metal--you don't have to say it, cuz I already know) actually makes me snort in incredulity: "Life is my art and art is my life. One." WTF are you talking about? One what? "Ugh--if I read one more 'deep rapper' post, I swear I'll post a "Fake-Ass MC" list exposing all these frauds!"

I briefly pause when I see my ex-BFF Zara Johnson's post: "Life is beautiful with my amazing family, hubby, and REAL friends". Before I can utter, "This bitch has lost her damn mind", I get a text: Hey Mad--that post was NOT aimed @ u. Peace. Sneering, I toss my phone on the bed and I find myself wondering what's more screwed up--the fact that only a tiny part of me believes her, or that she of the "perfect family" is online at 3 am--in an empty house. 

Finally, after minutes of reading pointless drunk posts, I spot the update from him. "Should I or shouldn't I?" "Great," I mumble. "Yet another cryptic post to obsess over. Why do I do this to myself?" With a weary groan, I click the button to log off. Wait--did I read that right? With the speed of a sugar-spiked toddler, I scan the page again. The post reads:

Zara Johnson: Mad should be mad...since I have the REAL life she writes fairy tales about. 

Shots fired--this bitch is going down! 

But before I explain how my life took such a downward social spiral, I have to tell you a little bit about who I am, or at least who people know me to be from my CN page. I'm Madeline Wynter Boston, or as my friends know me, Mad. (That's the only nickname I'll tolerate--trust me, I'm no cotton-candy Maddie.) Most people find me at least mildly attractive; I've often been complimented on my huge brown eyes framed by thick black lashes, wild curls, and 'endless curves' (my ex-boyfriend's words, not mine). My profession? Staff writer for a music mag by day, observer of all things social network by (late) night. My side job is what got me into this online mess, so why not share all of my screwups with the world? And so it goes...

Episode 1

January, 1 year ago: As I'm racing down the highway to get to my interview across town, I'm holding a mini pep rally. Jay-Z blasting at full volume, I bob my head while breaking local speed limits. "Allow me to reintroduce name is Mad! M-to-tha-A-D!" My "proper" English sounds like I'm trying too hard, so I put as much thug in it as I can muster. Hey--in my mind, I'm just as hard as any drug dealer-turned-mogul.

"I WILL get this job. I WANT this job. I NEED this job!" No lie on the need part for sure--I'm about one month away from losing my apartment, so I gotta get work with a quickness. My little red Cobalt and I are zooming towards the offices of Pulse Magazine, and my thoughts shift wildly. Will my low bun convey the professional-yet-stylish image they want? Does my gray blazer and pencil skirt scream stuffy? Did my writing samples wow them? As I approach my exit, I am officially FREAKING OUT.

"Madeline, why do you want to join the Pulse team?" Caroline English, the editor-in-chief, sits across from me in the most gorgeous office I've ever seen. I take a deep breath, give my brightest smile, and reply, "The opportunity to combine my two passions, music and journalism, is almost to good to be true. As a teenager, I read Pulse religiously, and to be able to work with you and the legendary staff would be a dream brought to life." She holds my gaze for a half-second longer than necessary before replying, "Well crafted answer. But tell me... why do you REALLY want to work for Pulse?"

 Before I could catch myself, I tilted my head to the right and gave her my "what the hell are you talking about" look. "Because I'm a damn good writer, I live and breathe music, and I can get you the exclusives with heavy hitters in this business. Hiring me would be one of the best moves you could make this year."  I leaned back into the buttery tan leather chair with a confident smile that hid the absolute terror underneath. What the hell did I just do? After that performance, I knew that I just blew my one chance at joining a music journalism dynasty.

To my utter disbelief, Caroline's face broke out into a huge grin. "There's the fire I'd heard so much about! At Pulse, we have some major egos, but they are well-deserved. My writers have covered some of the biggest stories in hip-hop, pop, and everything in between. You have to be thick-skinned, ambitious, and frankly, a bad-ass to join this team. Madeline, I'm going to go with my gut on you. Welcome to Pulse Magazine."

Wait...WHAT? I got the job? Ok, Mad--DON'T SCREAM... "Ms. English, thank you so much! I am so excited to work for Pulse. You won't regret this!" Before I could continue babbling, she extended a reverse-French manicured hand. "Relax--call me Caroline. You will start Monday, so get LOTS of rest this weekend. We've got some major stories coming down the pipe, so expect late hours for a while." With a firm handshake, I thanked her again and half-skipped, half-floated out of her corner office.

Later that night...
"No one the corner has swagger like us, swagger like us, swagger like us..." The pulsing bassline of "Swagga Like Us" wrapped around me like June humidity as I bobbed my head to M.I.A.'s hook. Jack and Coke in hand, I sat in VIP with my girls Simone and Charli. Pulse Magazine's newest staff writer definitely could stand to splurge a bit tonight!

Simone, a tall, slender beauty with chocolate skin and hypnotic light brown eyes, was already feeling her Long Island and promptly started dancing on the table. "Girl, get yo' ass down!" I said with a laugh. "I can't take you nowhere!" Charli rolled her eyes but couldn't hide her grin. At 5'7 in heels, with short black curls, deep gray eyes, the body of a stripper, and a glowing brown complexion, she caught the eye of every man (and woman) in the club. Charli shook her head and said, "Girl, even though Simone is at it again, we can't tell you enough how happy we are for you!" She paused for a moment, then continued. "So...I only have one question." I replied, "Shoot--what's up?" "Can I hold 20 dollars?" I beat her arm with my straw as we fell out laughing.

Once we got Simone back down to earth, we raised our glasses. My face hurt from smiling as I said, "To new beginnings, late nights, and early mornings!" We clinked our glasses together and enjoyed our favorite poisons.

Just then, "Vivrant Thing" boomed from the speakers. I hopped up, forgetting about my usual stumbling in stilettos. "Aw snap--that's my jam! C'mon y'all--let's show 'em how we do!" For once, the liquor seemed to work with me as I strutted to the dance floor. Normally, I'm the chick cheering on Simone as she winds her way down to the ground and back up, leaving every dude with a massive case of "The Thirst". This time, I was feeling myself enough to change it up. As Q-Tip rapped about the vivrant one, I lost myself in the beat, riding it like a long-lost lover. Hating broads gave me the evil eye, but I was too drunk and too happy to give a damn. Eat your heart out heffas, I thought to myself as their dudes salivated over my lush hips, round booty, and generous chest.

Suddenly, I noticed a guy slowly moving closer to me, his eyes damn near molesting me. Normally I'd give the one-finger salute and tell him to kick rocks, but his smooth skin, gorgeous smile, and perfectly carved body shut that down! Oh my damn he is fine! was my first thought. Is he coming over here...Yeah, he's coming over here...He isn't breaking eye contact...his hands are on my waist...who taught him how to move like that...What's my name again? Our bodies moved together seamlessly, like we'd known each other before; I was under a spell that I had no desire to break free from. As the last notes faded, he grabbed my phone, put his number in, and whispered in my ear, "Call me." And just like a mirage in the Sahara, he disappeared into the crowd.

Simone was the first to react. "Dayummmmm! Where the hell did he come from? And does he have a brother?" Charli chimed in, "He was too fine! I thought y'all were gonna get it in with the whole club watching. Whoo chile!" Still dazed, I replied, "Yeah, that was something. Wow." Simone said, "Wow is right! Call his ass TONIGHT!" Finally, I snapped out of my stupor and glanced down at my phone. I scrolled my contacts to look for his number, and smiled as I retrieved it. "Micah," I whispered. "We will definitely talk. Soon."

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