Wide Open Virtual Spaces

“You should initiate your hard disc first”, they say with a deadpan seriousness.

“Will it require ritual death masks and body make up?” I quip, but nothing can really put them off their wonderful, monotonous track, so after a brief pause they continue:

“How about your ram?”

“Ram? As in big horned male sheep, or as in Aries the Ram, ruling planet Mars, birth stone: diamond, birth flower: sweet pea?”

Note: I wrote this article all about computers and IT guys for a newspaper, back in 1999 (back when computers were still new for many of us, and the Internet was this exiting and pretty much innocent idea not at all attached to nastiness and dick selfies and instagramed plates of salad) I was reminded of it, because I recently bought a new computer and found myself faced with the bitter reality that after all these years, I still find IT guys to be arrogant and annoying, and sadly, they still find me to be stupid... I thought I would share it with you. If you are there. (Are you? No really. ARE YOU??? Hello…?) Just in case you are, here it goes:


Computers are here to stay. Who can deny it? Sitting there on your desk, making that computer-like humming noise that computers are known to make, that after a while you find yourself feeling - without really realizing it at the time - like there is someone else in the room with you. A presence. An entity. A humming thinking stupid/clever little being with a talent for losing your documents.

But if I were to chose my own two favorite things on my Mac, I would definitely go for 1) the “File+Save” feature and, 2) “the Command+Z” one. The “File+Save” is this heavenly thing that enables you to save stuff for all eternity (or at least up until your computer - without any kind of warning - has swallowed it up in order to keep it somewhere in its secret virtual belly for reasons unexplained and mysterious). And I can’t help but think what a glorious thing it would be, if we had a similar “file saving” ability as human beings. Think about it! Remember that brainwave you had on a Tuesday night at around 3.41 in the morning, when you suddenly woke up for three minutes and you had what you thought was a regular epiphany, a spiritual enlightenment or at least a way to balance your cheque book, and you now have completely forgotten what the hell it was? (What is it with middle-of-the-night-ideas I ask? Why do they always seem so great to us? Especially when it is still the middle of the night? ) Well, if you had that nice little file-saving-gismo attached to your brain, you would just press “save” before you went back to sleep, right?

And I’m thinking that this “saving” business could be used in a Time-machine kind of way too. I mean we all get sentimental about certain things and wish that we were able to save moments we cherish so that we could “relive” them. Well according to this idea, we could! We would retrieve them from the hard disk of our brain or (allow me to turn slightly Jungian here) from the collective unconscious, or (if you are into occult) from the Akashic Records (that’s like the “hard disc” of the entire history of mankind, mind you). Wouldn’t it be nice? Imagine the possibilities! Colobu’s rediscovering new continents. Nel Armstrong leaving footprints on the Moon again. Or better still: your first kiss, your kid’s fifth birthday, the day that for 25 whole seconds you thought you won the lotto! Those 3 weeks back in 1991 when you had that stomach flu and you reached your ideal weight goal! All the great stuff of life (especially your own) untouched by time!

But that Command+Z” is even a better deal. This is a little device that enables you to return back one step, or even thirty - depending on your regretting hysteria - and actually undo your mistakes! Cool or what? Well I personally certainly think so! You see I’m not one of those gracious and utterly annoying human beings who go around thinking they are Frank Sinatra doing “My way” in a Vegas gig, saying smug stuff like: “Me? Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention. Me? I LOOOVE my mistakes! I wouldn’t be the same without them”. Oh Pleeease!!! Gimmie a brake will you? I mean come oooon!!! Be honest! Wouldn’t you just love to be able to retract the steps that lead you to some kind of misery, that caused you pain and years of your life? To be able to untake that wrong turn you took ages ago? The one that made you loose your way, your chances, your sense of humor? Not to mention your hair?

In fact, if I were a top nuclear scientist/genetic engineer/ Godlike merciful, Goddess person, I would designed two of these for each one of you. Firstly I would design the “MINOR Regrets/Undoing Minor Stupid Things Key” that would enable you to delete everyday acts of stupidity, like that third piece of chocolate cake you had after lunch for example, or buying that plain white shirt from M&S for 49.99 while you could have had the exact same one (only with uglier buttons) at your nearest factory shop for 11.50. And then I would also designed the “MAJOR Regrets/Undoing Major Stupid Things Key” for the biggest stuff. Like that particular perm you had back in 1987, or wearing fuchsia blouses with shoulder pads, or having an affair with a man who actually wore white socks (though if I were to be fair I would have to take away your “MAJOR Regrets/Undoing Major Stupid Things Key” rights, just on account of this last one. (I mean white socks? How many clues do you need for God’s sake?)

But in the meantime, back in real life, computers completely freak me out (not to mention computer freaks...) There is something about someone who understands the workings of any machine that gives me the creeps: people who get computers, people who can drive aircrafts or even spaceships - or cars for that matter (Yeah, yeah, I’m a serious case ok?). People who can tell you how much is 26x17.5 (without using a calculator). People who remember other people's phone numbers (or even their own!) These are a special breed - or at least they certainly think so... And like all special-breed-kind-of-people, they have their own unique and insanely obscure coded language that helps them not only to communicate with other special breeds, but also to know if you are one of them. (Your blank stare always gives you away, see...) They have their own special secret handshake thing all right! You know they say stuff like: “Use the convergence menu and Custom White Point popup menu to adjust the screen convergence white point”. (OK, Is it just me or does this sound totally insane?) And they use all those cryptic terms like: 9300+8MPCD, vertical refresh rate, CPCMS, pslabexp.pt, adobegb.pt, (these are true terms, I swear to God), ShellPlugins, and ATM3.9 Lue Mint (this Lue one is Chinese I bet), Downloader 5.05.Lesmeg (and here come a few Scots, a whole family of them, get ready now:) MacLinkPlus PP, MacPing, Mac-cmp, (and now a Scot with a compulsive personality:) Macaddict.gif.

I have spent quite a lot of time hearing snippy, impatient, insulting, short-tempered technicians giving me instruction on how to avoid a computer crisis over the phone, intimidating and scaring me to death with their solid faith in the way their cosmos operates.

“You should initiate your hard disc first”, they say with a deadpan seriousness.
“Will it require ritual death masks and body make up?” I quip, but nothing can really put them off their wonderful, monotonous track, so after a brief pause they continue:
How about your ram?”
“Ram? As in big horned male sheep, or as in Aries the Ram, ruling planet Mars, birth stone: diamond, birth flower: sweet pea?”

Believe me after that, you find yourself in an even worst jam than before. And an aggravated as well as arrogant computer nerd, is the last thing you need in your hour of need. So just play it along and be quiet... Cause like I said, those people live in a doubt-free world. A world from which I am the original outcast, a reject, the eternal misfit. And they sure have ways of letting me know. Though I bet that most of them would be completely lost into mine too, provided that they could even imagine that anything lies beyond their own, measurable in GBs and megahertz (for whatever that is) horizons... Sometimes I get really pissed off with their arrogance and I want to shout to them:

“Hey mister, how about the Phenomenology of myth? Or varieties of religion on Sasanian Iran? Or what exactly is a Norfolk jacket? Huh? Any clues? And what was Bruce Sringsteen’s first - and unbelievably badly produced - album? And can you recite all the words to Alice’s Restaurant? (And I mean the whole 16 minutes of it!) Or can you tell the difference between “crepe georgette” and “crepe de chine”? (No, these are NOT chinese pancakes as pronounced by a French person, you moron!) And what about cosmogonical dualism in Sufis tradition, huh? Do you need a minute? Well take two. Nothing? And can you tell the difference between a Pre-Raphaelite and a regular Victorian painter? Or who played in “Lady Vanishes”? And can you make a decent apple pie while you are at it?”

I’m sorry about this, but I’m trying to prove a point here OK? It being that computer geeks and people who understand machines in general, don’t have the exclusive right of being gloatingly smug and sure of themselves and thinking that you are a half wit if you are not computer prone, or in any case are like them. And also that there are whole universes out there, that most of them haven’t even heard of. And that us computer-stupid folk, can be as arrogant and gloating as them if we chose to, and maybe even totally outwit them, if we are playing in our own ball game, but you know what? We don’t want to! Cause we try to remember that it takes every kind of people and not everybody can be everything.

Ok mister, go ponder on that! And next time I don’t get what you are talking about (yes, yes! even after the THIRD time you explain it to me), just you be more polite!


Wide Open Virtual Spaces - Art & Words Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorized use - copying, publishing, printing, reselling, etc - will lead to legal implications.

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