Like most people, I was full of admiration for Molly Ringwald’s recent Ask Me Anything over at Reddit. She discussed everything from Judd Nelson to her upcoming jazz album with an appealing mix of internet humor and self-deprecation while showing off her familiarity with Reddit’s own culture and in-jokes[1].

The intro to her AMA lists Ringwald’s many vocations, including writing books, speaking French and “until I started a twitter account three days ago, rais[ing] three kids.” That’s right, after a mere 3 days on Twitter, Molly Ringwald walked into Reddit and served up pwnage like she’s Captain Mal Reynolds on Unification Day.

ORLY? I found it hard to believe that Molly Ringwald spent the last 15 years in a haze of je ne sais quoi Internet-oblivion, only to burst forth from the forehead of Reddit like some fully formed Internet Goddess. Not even Molly Ringwald is that cool. Or is she? My curiosity got the better of me.

In which I advance a few theories…

In which I advance a few theories...

http://storify.com/heywren/how-did-molly-ringwald-get-so-good-at-the-internet" target="_blank">View the story "How did Molly Ringwald get so good at the internet?" on Storify</a>]<br /> <h1>How did Molly Ringwald get so good at the internet?</h1> <h2>In which I advance a few theories…</h2> <p>Storified by Wren Lanier · Mon, May 07 2012 21:32:14</p> <div>I srsly want to know how @mollyringwald got so good at the internet. Based on her work this week, this ain’t her first rodeo.Wren Lanier</div> <div>Where did she begin? Long nights on Livejournal? Shipper wars on http://fanfiction.net? Flaming out on Metafilter?Wren Lanier</div> <div>It takes more than lurking on Reddit to execute that kind of pwnage. Or has @mollyringwald studied with sensei @wilw for the last year?Wren Lanier</div> <div>@heywren @wilw haha. Obviously I have been around with a different name.Molly Ringwald</div> <div>Well played Ringwald…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED RT @MollyRingwald @heywren @wilw haha. Obviously I have been around with a different name.Wren Lanier</div> <div>@heywren @wilw PS…this was the best.http://bit.ly/IfPKOkMolly Ringwald</div>“haha. Obviously I have been around with a different name.”

Now that’s more like it. Molly Ringwald is, in fact, no stranger to the Internet; this is just her first outing as a Verified Celebrity. (And yes, I’d still love to know where she’s been posting these last few years.)

Which brings me to my point: the Internet is a skill, not a cum rag sink trap for your stray thoughts and uglier impulses. Some people are more talented at it than others, and every now and then you run across a savant, but for most people creating an Internet persona takes work and practice. It doesn’t just happen by accident.

Learning the ways of any internet community requires time, effort, and often a few embarrassing missteps. Distilling thoughts into sparkling insights of 140 characters or less takes patience and effort. And recognizing the border between sharing and over-sharing, pushing the limits and going over the line, is a test of maturity we all still fail at least once in awhile.

Today people call this skill “social media.” Ten years ago it would’ve been called internet public relations. These labels exist to justify the fact that some people are getting paid to do this, but it doesn’t change the fact that more than 90% of Americans are using at least one social network[2] and only a fraction of a fraction of them do it for a living. Just because you don’t get paid to post on the Internet doesn’t give you a pass to suck at it.

I don’t get paid to drive, but I consider being a good driver a worthwhile life skill. I don’t get paid to cook either, but my life got better when I learned to do more than boil a pot of water. Sure, you can live your life driving uninsured, eating FastBurgerTacoShack, and live-tweeting every episode of Glee—but your mom raised you better than that.

It’s time to up your game folks. Good Girl Molly Ringwald has thrown down the gauntlet. And if she can do it, you can too.

 

[1] – “I’m here to answer all of your questions about Rampart”
[2] – Rounded down from statistics on this page