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My computer, the jerk

Joe Piarulli | Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My computer does not want me to succeed. Everyone talks about how technology makes life easier, and how we continue to make so many advances. If we’re so advanced, how come I don’t know how to cook anything that doesn’t have the words “pop” or “easy” in their names? The computers are the ones getting better, not us.

Yes, there’s a whole wealth of information at my fingertips, but how can I use it when I know that for every biographical fact about James Joyce on the Internet, there’s 10 flash games where you shoot zombies? My computer may represent the best academic resource I have, but it also serves as my greatest distraction, and for me, that poses a serious problem.

I have a short attention span to begin with. For example, between writing that last sentence and writing this one, I spent 15 minutes counting the spirals on my tan phone’s cord (there are 212 – check to see if yours is the same). So you see, on the tree of technological knowledge, there are some bad apples, and it’s tempting to take them because they look so delicious.

My laptop has sent me back to 1995. When I found out you could play Nintendo and Sega Genesis games on your computer, I knew my chances of doing anything productive ever again were about as good as a female rooster’s chance of winning the World’s Strongest Man Competition (because female roosters can’t exist, duh).

If Nintendo games on my computer manifested themselves into a person, they would be Drago from Rocky IV, and my willpower would be a 75-pound chess champion named Clarence. Put them in an arm wrestling match, and you understand my David vs. Goliath-like dilemma (for those of you keeping track at home, that’s the second Biblical reference so far in a column about video games).

Computers do simplify life, but if our lives get any easier, life itself might just seem like too much of a hassle. Employers are always looking for shortcuts, and aren’t we all? “Hey, pick up that box for me … No, I can’t make the computer do it, the computer is broken … Oh, I see you’re swallowing a cyanide capsule now because it’s easier than picking up the box … Good thinking, now that’s efficiency. I’m promoting you.”

I realize I’m stretching the issue, but you see my point, and I’m just scratching the surface. I still haven’t mentioned the people who spend hours on facebook (if you’re reading this, friend me), or on Playstation (why would I go outside and play football when I can help the Philadelphia Eagles win eight Super Bowls in a row from my futon?), or spend so much time sending text messages that they know “Notre Dame” comes up as “mouse dame” using T9word. It’s tough living in such a viciously simple world.

I cannot escape from my computer. It’s with me right now. Shh … it can hear you. It’s not letting me leave. It says if I shut it down the Microsoft Word paperclip will cry and I’ll get a virus. Not just a computer virus, but strep throat too. Save yourselves. Warn the children … you must warn the children …