Social media gets a bad rap. Yes, it has its unpleasant sides; the misinformation that spreads like wildfire, the bullying that can go on (although I think this happens more with the younger set, yes?), the plummeting sense of self-worth when you follow people who
are seem to be far cooler than you (don’t deny it, you all know what I’m talking about). BUT. For all its negatives, it really is a remarkable tool. Think about it – you can connect with people all over the world through random shared interests. I’ve made so many connections with some pretty awesome people through both Twitter and Instagram these last few years (not so much Facebook, which has become a virtual high school reunion): music people and writing people, people who live nearby and people who live half the world away. It can be pretty mind-blowing when you think about it. I understand that relationships and associations established online probably aren’t going to be as meaningful as the ones you make in person, but the potential is there. You already know you have something in common, right? But even if you never meet the other person in real life, just making that connection can be inspiring. Sometimes though, the virtual world does bleed into the real one and you get to meet one of these people face-to-face. I did, this past weekend.
Because of JD McPherson, I follow a few people who love all things vintage, folks who are all about everything circa 1950. And because of those folks, I ended up discovering a pin-up model/makeup artist/hairstylist/YouTube star named Cherry Dollface. Her account is a lot of fun, highlighting the sort of lighthearted, effervescent topics you’d expect, but with a serious side too as she chronicles the health issues that she’s battling. She sent out a call on Instagram a few weeks ago for a long-haired girl to be a model for a pin-up hair and makeup class she was hosting in Philly. I saw it, shrugged and thought, “What the hell,” and emailed her photos of my ridiculous mop, saying I’d love to help out. And to my surprise and delight, she responded within hours saying that she’d love to use me. And that’s how I came to spend Saturday on Philly’s seedy South Street, my hair done up in victory rolls, feeling like I’d just stepped off the pages of a post-World War II-era issue of Time magazine.
It was a blast. An afternoon of girliness and laughter, chatting with eight other ladies about everything from makeup and hair and style (of course) to politics to travel to careers. And Cherry herself is just as sweet and gorgeous in person as she is online. I could never pull off this look in my everyday life (look at those curls! They practically defy gravity!), but trying it out for a day was a ton of fun. How many people can say that they stopped traffic – literally – in Center City Philadelphia? And it never would have happened if not for the wonders of social media. Those apps don’t exist just to waste time and to preen for untold numbers of anonymous people – there’s also some real content if you look. You never know what experiences you might have or what doors might open up because of a well-timed tweet or Instagram post.