“Can you check again?” Alberto asked his girlfriend for the third time that night. Dragging her eyes away from her IPad long enough to roll them in annoyance, Ada posted her status update and then looked at Alberto.
“You know you’re crazy, right?” She said in a patronizing tone.
Alberto barely heard her. For the last three days he had become convinced that something was wrong with him. As a young man in his late twenties, Alberto was experiencing symptoms that seemed more appropriate for a man three times his age- failing eyesight, prolonged back pain, weight gain, depression, low energy and stamina and his joints- from his wrists to his ankles were killing him. Not to mention intense headaches that were becoming increasingly frequent. All these symptoms had developed in the span of the last few weeks, and now Alberto was beginning to think something else was wrong, he was obsessed with the idea that he was growing… a tail.
Several doctor’s visits and a few prescriptions had not done anything to dissuade Alberto from this irrational hypochondria, although now he kept his fear primarily to himself, and Ada.
“I’m not checking again, you’re being ridiculous and I’m not going to contribute to the madness anymore. You’re fine,” She said as she turned back to her computer. “Check out this video I found,” she said as she shoved the tablet into Alberto’s lap, “Its hil-A-rious!” she screeched.
While the ‘Peanut butter, jelly’ song engulfed the apartment and a mascot in a banana costume began to dance on the screen, Alberto was anything but amused. Instantly he began to feel ill. Then, in a light bulb moment, he thought of something… what if what was ailing him was related to the computer? Rolling this idea around in his head like an atomic fireball losing its heat, Alberto began to make some connections. The symptoms began to dramatically increase when he accepted that research contract last month. The job required Alberto, who was normally a very active individual, to sit in front of a computer for about ten hours or more everyday as he worked to unearth articles, posts, blurbs and other online chatter regarding his subject matter. Following these long days of squinting at a backlit screen, Alberto would normally come home to where his girlfriend Ada, who was a bit of a social media nut, would inundate him with more online content. Add it all up, and Alberto’s day consisted of approximately 18 hours of staring at a computer screen.
The amount of time Alberto was devoting to the online world also helped to explain why he felt so isolated lately. All of his ‘friendships’ were primarily maintained via Facebook, Tweets or IM and sometimes through his blog. The ease at which he could learn the intimate details of the people he surrounded himself with had allowed Alberto to grow a bit lazy in his efforts to actually ‘see’ these people, after all what was there to talk about? He already knew just about everything there was to know by checking status updates. He couldn’t remember the last time he had actually grabbed a beer with one of his buddies as a way to just ‘touch base’. Thinking about it now, Alberto had never felt more disconnected.
Remembering something he had read online about a rare malady connected to dramatically increased time spent in front of a computer, Alberto began to panic all over again. He had just glanced over the majority of the content, as it didn’t really relate to what he was looking for, but one symptom had stood out from the rest, mainly because of its bizarre nature. In about 12% of the cases in this study, subjects had developed abnormal growth in the os coccyx, or tailbone. Researchers in the study commented that it appeared as if the body was compensating for the increased sitting the subjects were demonstrating, and the extended tailbone was almost serving as an additional support, like a tripod to allow for this change in posture.
“Ada! I need you to check again, now!” Alberto almost screamed.
Seeing that her normally even-keeled boyfriend was seriously agitated, Ada decided she better do as he asked (and then give him crap about it later, of course). “Ok, ok, I’m coming. Alright, drop your shorts and let me see,” she said as she bent over him.
“Oh!” Ada instantly exclaimed in shock.
“What is it?!?! It’s a tail, isn’t it? Oh man, I knew it. I never should have taken that job. Now I’m going to have to quit and get surgery and use a donut to sit for months. Why is this happening to me?!?” Alberto had diminished into a quivering mess of a man in a matter of seconds.
“What? What are you talking about, a tail?” Ada almost laughed at the puddle of humanity who had just minutes ago been her strong, confident boyfriend. “You really are losing it, babe. Look, it’s just a thumb drive, see?” she said as she held up a small, black object. “The more important question is, how the hell did it get down your pants?” Ada chuckled as she tossed the still-warm flash drive to Alberto.
Staring at the drive, Alberto felt a flush bloom in his cheeks (ahem, the ones on his face). After a few more moments of quiet contemplation, Alberto stood up and said, “Ada, let’s go grab a beer at Smittys… we really gotta get out more”.
Shrugging, Ada grabbed her purse and was about to slide her IPad into its innards when Alberto stopped her, “without the computer”.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Ever have one of those days when you just want to toss your computer out the nearest window? Where you wish you could reach into that illuminated screen to the moron or morons who are screwing up another part of your world, a part you didn’t even know existed until you logged on today and now, you can think of nothing but and just donkey-kicking the crap out of them? Yeah, that’s me today. Sometimes I think my fingertips are grafting to the keyboard, the amount of time I spend in front of this contraption is really starting to annoy me. And yes, I know, I’m the only one that can do something about it, blah, blah, blah. I guess that is true to an extent, but for the eight hours I am at work, I would be hard pressed to find a convincing argument for swearing off of computer use. And then there is my lovely blogging project, what of that? Maybe I’m just in a rotten mood, maybe I just need to tune the things I read online out more, maybe I’m just missing the days where I wrote in an actual book or used a pen and paper. Perhaps I miss the great outdoors after being back from vacation for a week. Whatever the case, I need sunshine, and puddles and weird bugs flying at my face, I need walking trails and birds chirping and the stimulation of the wind right before a summer storm. Guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow. 🙂
TWO: Ada refers to a character in a book I’m currently reading, The Poisonwood Bible. I’m only a few chapters in, but already this mute spitfire is my favorite. She may have half a brain, but her fascination of words makes her hard to resist. Now if I could only find the time to sit and actually make some headway in the dern thing…
Love & Squirrels.