The Time I Went Six Days Without The Internet
In its old age, my Dell Inspiron has become like an elderly WW2 veteran with Alzheimer’s who just suffered a stroke and also has muscular dystrophy. Just turning it on is fifteen minutes of psychological agony in which I have to look at things that exist outside of a computer screen. I have to look at curtain. I have to look at table. I have to look at pants. Tissue box. Can of green tea. The squiggly paramecium things that swim across my eyeball. None of these images can adequately stimulate my brain, and I have trained myself to expect constant unending stimulation like a man who lives in a casino or a movie theater or a Dave and Buster’s. Running more than one program at a time gives my computer a fever; it overheats, stutters, mumbles delirious rantings. I don’t know how computers work, but it makes me think of a puking drunk child being given his/ her SATs.
When I push control-alt-delete, I am treated to a teeming horde of mysterious processes my computer’s performing without my explicit consent. What’s sprtsvc? Sport Service? Spirit Service? Single Parent Raising Teenager Since Violent Conception? It’s impossible tell what’s a legitimate process and what’s a virus obtained while recklessly googling “cats fighting children,” “polar bear behavior,” and “Spider-Man news” (Spider-Man’s fine, by the way — except in the Ultimate Universe where he’s dead). The CPU — whatever that is — shoots up to 99%, then drops to 3%, and then shoots back up to 99%. A process called svchost.exe eats up about 400,000 kb of memory, which seems like a fairly exorbitant amount.
In light of this, I deliver my poor sweet baby to the computer repair guys around the corner from me. They say it will take 3-4 days to fix. I say, “What will I be doing for the next 3-4 days then?” He says, “What do you mean?” I say, “If I don’t have a computer, what can I do for an entire 3-4 day period?” He says, “I don’t understand. Whatever you want, I guess.”
Silence. I use my computer for music, so without it, I live in a sad silent world where the only music available is the sound of my own breathing. Real life doesn’t have a soundtrack; did you know that? It’s cold and unfeeling like No Country for Old Men. Real life is exactly like No Country for Old Men or, because I don’t operate often during the daytime, Paranormal Activity. It’s fear, death, and misery without any melodic indicators of mood.
I finally break down and read a book. A book! My roommate says, “You’re reading? What is this? The 1800s?” I say, “I know, right? Reading a book is like lighting your house with candles or buying music legally — anachronistic.” He says, “What does that word mean?” I say, “Who cares!” And then we laugh and laugh and laugh.
I realize that without my computer, I’m just this guy sitting alone in a dark empty apartment. All of my internet friends, they amount to little more than imaginary people once the computer’s gone. They are figments of my imagination that interacted with me in cyberspace so as to delude me into feeling socially fulfilled. My thin internet façade is stripped away to reveal this pale Gollum creature that compulsively gobbles fistfuls of Reese’s Pieces. We loves them, our Reese’s Pieces. We needs them. We keeps them in a Ziploc bag under the bed for nocturnal nomming. Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.
In the real world, how do I convey my favorite music, movies, and video games? How do I communicate an inspirational quote I googled? If I have a sudden extremely interesting thought that is 140 characters or less, how do I broadcast it to the world? How can anyone understand me without seeing a picture of me sitting next to an enormous stuffed bear? A girl passes me on the street — how do I instantly have access to her photos, interests, job, etc? She is an anonymous unknowable mystery. The bone chilling horror of being unable to creep!
The sun’s carcinogenic UV rays stab my flesh, twist and poison the genetic material of my skin cells, and seed my eyeballs with cataracts. The temperature is much less than I’m accustomed to, and I don’t appreciate the discomfort. The outside has no AC or heating, none I can access at least, which means I’m subject to the capricious whims of air currents, pressure systems, and atmospheric disturbances. It makes me feel like a wild animal.
As I approach my front door, I hear a rustling in the bush adjacent the porch. I go, “Ehhhhhhhh?” I stomp my feet a little. “Eh?” I kick the bush. Three fat rats scamper out of the bush, passing centimeters in front of and behind my feet, and disappear around the corner. I think, ‘This is why I don’t go outside! It’s infested with living things!’ My feet tingle for several minutes afterward, so I brew up some Hershey’s Bliss Hot Cocoa and scrutinize a Bed, Bath, and Beyond catalog.
I call up the computer repair shop and am informed that my computer has additional problems necessitating a longer servicing period. I say, “Is it absolutely necessary.” He says, “Yes.” I say, “I’m bleeding from every orifice.” He says, “I can’t help you there.” I say, “I need my computer.” He says, “It’ll be ready in a couple days.” The notion of any further time sans computer troubles me deeply. Deeply.
It never occurred to me before how much time there is in a day, the many long hours in which so much can be accomplished — it’s endless. Unfortunately, my personality is such that between Twitter, Facebook, email, Netflix, and YouTube, my day’s picked clean like a deer corpse in Tigertown. One moment, my day is a wellspring of possibilities; the next, it’s a charred skeleton lying in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The only solution, I suppose, is to take frequent breaks from computer time during which I go outside and allow my body to synthesize vitamin D, reduce pastiness, and instill a positive worldview. Also, being more judicious about how much time I spend on the internet would help.
With a straight razor, I carve along the edge of my face, slip the blade underneath the skin, and carefully peel away. I place the grimacing visage on a pizza tray covered in aluminum foil and put it in the oven. After twenty minutes or so, I remove it, cut it into strips, coat the strips in sweet and sour sauce, place the strips on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes, and I eat it. It had to be done. I had to eat my own face — I had to. I had no other options. Don’t you understand? The skin prevented my skull from being properly ventilated. I need to post a status update about this! Where’s my computer? I need it!
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