Not that any of this matters to me in the midst of my disaster; I’m just grateful for the goodwill of my crowd and the dozens of answers they give. I call one of the plumbers. (At this point, not in the mood to take chances, I crowdsource my crowdsourcing, checking reviews both on Yelp and Angie’s List.) The plumber comes, fixes the leak, and charges me a ridiculous amount of money. But I have my water back, my floor isn’t that damaged, and my nerves are calmed.
A week later, the pipe bursts again, this time soaking everything from my kitchen to the living room. My crowdsourced plumber fixes it a second time, charges more money, and leaves. When it bursts a third time, my gratitude has dissipated, and all I’m left with is anger at the plumber, at the pipes, at this project, and — goodwill or no — at the crowd.
Crowd Question #4:
Which outfit should I wear on my date?
It’s Tuesday night. I’m meeting someone new. I lay out two outfits on a bed, snap photos, and post them to Facebook: Would the Internet have me don my winter uniform of black pants and navy blue shirt? Or would it opt for the look I think of as “librarian-chic”: red-orange pants and a blue cardigan?
The crowd likes the bright outfit. I wear it. The date goes well, I guess — though there’s no mention of my clothes. Nobody gives me approving glances on the sidewalk. But! Nor does anybody laugh.
The date and I go out again, but we aren’t really into each other. My outfit — and the crowd’s opinion of it — doesn’t matter in the end. Maybe I should stick to movie recommendations.
Crowd Question #5:
Can someone recommend a better pick-me-up than caffeine?
When I ask this question, I’m thinking people will recommend herbal teas or something. Instead, they think I’m asking where to get amphetamines. Or meth. It’s terrible: Not only do I look like I’m trolling Twitter for drugs, but now everyone thinks I’m too lame to know where to get them. Fail.
Crowd Question #6:
What gym should I join?
Having recently quit my day job, I’ve lost access to the cheap, always-empty office gym I once enjoyed. I need something downtown — or maybe in South Philly — and I need something I can afford. I figure my friends on Facebook and Twitter — many of whom are also underpaid writers — are the perfect people to help me out.
I will say this: If the questions we ask reveal our personal truths, so do the answers we offer. And evidently, my friends and followers have more money than I thought. The most common suggestion is the Sporting Club at the Bellevue, which they make sound like a gym for the gods on Mount Olympus. I check it out online, but the site doesn’t list prices. I’ve known for a long time that when the price isn’t listed, I can’t afford it.
Another crowd pick, Philadelphia Sports Club, is slightly more my speed, but again, I wonder exactly how much my social media friends are making. I sift through all the suggestions and find two more possibilities — Sweat and 12th Street, both big, neither too expensive, and both within walking or jogging distance of my house. I take tours of them and settle on 12th Street — which is where even the barest minimum of my own research would have guided me immediately, without Twitter and the hours I spent researching its suggestions. I have to call this a crowdsourcing wash. Also, now I feel poor.
Crowd Question #7:
I threw my back out yesterday. Ice, heating pad, ibuprofen. Anything I’m missing?
I realize this makes me sound too old to even know what social media is, but I throw my back out one day putting on boots. One moment I’m dressing to go out, and the next I’m on the floor, unable to move. I know it’s not serious — this isn’t my first time — but I’m in a lot of pain. I can barely walk. I follow my usual regimen of ice, heat, OTC drugs. When my back doesn’t feel better after a day, I craft my tweet.