Everyone wants to know the secret agenda of technology.
Luddites feel it threatens the very foundation of our moral fiber. Even people who love technology tend to question the ways that it takes us away from nature (why see the birdies in the forest when you can play Halo2?) or the way technology makes simulacra of human connection so easy that we think that virtual interaction is the same as actually sharing wine with friends, slapping someone on the back, or snorting Diet Coke up one’s nose in public because you are laughing so hard.
But, beloved Betsy blog readers, I am here to give you the real insider scoop on the secret agenda of technology. Disregard who invented the Internet. Ignore the man behind the curtain waving his arms wildly. The secret agenda of technology is to make writers feel guilty.
Think about it. In the early 1990s, when I was an MFA poetry graduate student hunting for my first Web job, all I had to feel guilty about were the journalistic bridges I burned (“I’ll never work for a newspaper again!” – which amazingly became the first full-time Web gig I had) and the fact that my poetry manuscript was not yet full of enough good poems to win the Yale Younger Poetry Prize or show up piecemeal in the New Yorker. I might have owed a couple of people an email or two that lived in other states, but that was it. I am a speed reader and a reporter-trained typist and except for giving my due to the Muse, I really didn’t owe anyone any verbiage. I was on top!
Fast forward to now. Now, I have so many writing orphans, tugging at my sagging cotton socks begging for sentences, I don’t know where to begin. I leave work late, like many Microsoft people do, having answered everything in my email inbox. Arriving here this morning, literally 50-75 emails have arrived overnight. Disregarding the ones that believe I am a man and in need of er, growth, or the ones that seem to think I need a Rolex (hello! The system clock on my laptop is all I need, thanks!), I am already in a national deficit-proportion of email debt before I even have my coffee. And I really need my coffee.
But ignore the email, everyone at Microsoft whines about the email, and if we’d all just shut up and stop writing it, no one would have to read it. :) And let’s forget about this blog, which I don’t write often enough in, had to leverage as a Mother’s Day card, and in general inspires general mayhem in the public such that I am not sure it is a public service. And let’s forget about the novel that I’ve been writing since 1998, have 155 pages done in draft and at least 100 to go before I can start editing. And let’s still yet avert our eyes from the derelict poetry manuscript which needs at least 40 more poems that I might actually not write before I turn 40, disqualifying me for contending for the Yale Younger.
Let’s talk instead about how I might owe someone a FAX and have to write that on my computer. Let’s talk about the freakin’ text messaging capabilities of my freakin’ phone! I’m in a bar, safely away from all the connectivity that hounds my daily life, and my phone vibrates and I realize – the pal meeting me here is lost and I have to thumb-type complex directions into my Nokia the size of a rouge compact! My text is obviously not my own – I apparently OWE those vowels and consonants out to the world.
About the only people who get enough verbiage from me, sad to say, are my IM friends, which is a phrase that sounds so much like imaginary friends it’s uncanny. Yet, these imaginary friends type sweet nothings to me via instant messenger. They say things like whassup! And OMG! And ok, cya! So my all my professional journalism training to AP Style and higher learning of the finer points of English literature gets caught in linguistic snares like d00d! and ROFL!-like maneuvers.
It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. A gosh-darn conspiracy. And if I didn’t have so many emails to write, poems undone, and IM beeps to answer, I would probably write my Congressperson about it.
Live it vivid!