Last week, I experienced a writer’s equivalent of an ill child, on the verge of death with a rare, unidentified illness that only certain specialists can even identify, let alone treat.
That’s right. My laptop went into a coma. As I sat in the waiting area at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar, I nervously watched as my fellow Mac owners furrowed their bows over disastrous water spills and data loss. One woman sat and bawled uncontrollably as she explained that her final project – the one on the laptop, the laptop that was soon to enter intensive care – was due tomorrow, yes, tomorrow.
“Isn’t there anything you can do?!” she pleaded. “Please, please, just promise me that everything will be OK, doctor, I mean, Mac Store Jesus, er, Genius Man.” Her boyfriend stood at her side, delicately caressing her back and consoling her with reassuring comments: “It’ll all be OK … I’m sure it’s nothing … Did they already try..? Oh, well how about…? You can use mine if you… Yes, I know it’s a Dell but it’s… fine, you’re right, we shouldn’t fight here, now.”
And then, my name was called, and I met my own Personal Genius: Mark. He reassured me that everything would be OK. He was sure it was nothing. After trying to replace the battery and another cheap part, I received a call a few days later: It was much more serious than it originally seemed. Macy – yes, I’ve named my Macbook – needed to go on a little vacation.
A week later, I was back at the Apple Store to pick up my estranged child, and Macy is in better shape than ever before. And my data was untouched. A miracle if I’d ever seen one. I immediately built a new playlist for my iPod (named Pippi) and then embraced my inner narcissist by shooting a new Photo Booth series.
As I’ve returned to the interwebs at a more regular rate in this past week, I’ve faced the onslaught of the latest Facebook chain mail: The 25 things. According to a recent Time editorial, 5 million incarnations of this phenomenon have appeared over the course of the past week – 125 million “facts” for us to devour. As interesting as many of the facts have been, and as honored as I feel that my friends would want to share such dark and sometimes embarrassing facts with me, the whole thing has made me wonder. In this day and age, where our every move, every thought are recorded on a “newsfeed,” where and when will we draw the line?
As I log onto my Facebook page, the first thing I see are my latest three status updates from “friends” – in this case: A friend of an estranged friend whom I haven’t seen in five years, a friend from my high school loner-on-the-net days whom I’ve met in person exactly once and someone from Madison whom I downed Jaegerbombs with on one cold winter evening shortly after I attained my legal drinking age.
Oh, that one woman from that one class was tagged in a photo by someone I don’t know.
This guy is friends with this other guy.
Another twice-removed friend wrote a note. Miley Cyrus is on her way to the courtroom, apparently.
Someone else is no longer in a relationship. <Insert broken heart emblem here>
Why must we broadcast our every hurt, hope and desire for the entire world to see? Every time we log on, we subject ourselves to everything – a face we miss but can’t speak to, a “status” that used to be spoken aloud rather than read online, a party invitation that shows maybe someone has moved on more quickly than you could have ever expected. Maybe more than you ever will. <Insert stomach-sinking feeling sound effect here>
Sure, you’re probably thinking that this article is hypocritical. Isn’t blogging pretty much the same thing? Writing down thoughts that are shared with whomever happens to Google the exact phrase or stumble haphazardly across the exact link to sail their ship this direction. And you know, you’re right. I’m not above the machine we’ve created – I was just saying, is all.