The other day I watched a documentary called Cosmonaut: How Russia Won The Space Race. In it, an engineer from the original Sputnik launch, talked about plotting a precise course for the rocket. It was an extremely complicated endeavor, making sure the angle of trajectory would deliver the satellite into a gentle orbit.
To achieve this incredible feat, he said he used this large machine; a computer. Speaking now as a charming old man, he laughed and said, at the time, it was the only computer in The Soviet Union.
And now, over 50 years later, with the all the technological advancements that have taken place , I say this to your stupid computer face – that house sized, clanking, coughing, shuddering mechanical dinosaur is TWICE the computer you could ever be.
That Russian behemoth probably couldn’t play games, or had a screen and no doubt emitted a loud V8 engine noise constantly. Did they even have electricity in Soviet Russia in the 50’s? Well of course they did, but that contraption could have depended on me to feed it coal to keep it running, and yet right now, I’d pick old C3P Coal over you in a heartbeat.
You were sold to me with so many promises. You weren’t going to be like all the others. You wouldn’t drive me to madness. You were going to be faster, more responsive, more intelligent. Shiny too. And I suppose you were. It was good at the beginning, but then you got lazy. You stopped going to computer gym and you got out of shape and slow. Worse than that, you didn’t seem to care anymore.
Really? You do care? Ok then. Answer me this: would a computer that cared simply turn off the program I’m using before I saved my work? Minutes, sometimes hours of work, gone. And what did you do? Nothing. No apologies. Just a hateful silence.
That’s the program’s fault? Really? Where does the program live? It lives in you. You are its house, its doctor, its security guard. The old you would never let that happen.
No? Ok then what about this. Who’s fault is it when everything on the screen just stops working? Everything is still there but none of YOUR controls work. Your stupid mouse moves about like a drunk arrow, unable to get its shit together to click on anything. Your keys do nothing, defiantly springing back up under my fingers, like a sleeping drunk in a taxi refusing to respond to the driver’s waking shouts and prods.
While the drunk arrow is in play, I pray there is still a chance it might sober up, and click on something, anything. And then, the ultimate insincerity, your spinning wheel of inaction. I know that means you’ve given up.
I picture you lying on your dilapidated couch, the one you probably fashioned out of microchips upon which you absentmindedly spilled beer, trying to reach for the remote without having to stand up. Your alarm goes off, and through the camera lens you can see me angrily banging your keyboard. You can neither hear me (you have my volume turned down so you can watch your stories) nor feel me striking you about the keys and screen (you’re too drunk).
The big alarm goes off, and so you know that you need to do something. But what? Why not trot out that stupid spinning wheel of doom? It changes the cursor from a point to a whirling dervish. It is meant to signify action, something being done, but to me it sets off a sort of synesthesiastic response whereby anytime I see it I simply hear an intermittently clicking whirrr, coupled with what I imagine to be your stoned voice lazily saying “Whoaaaaaaa…”
So you’re doing nothing. Nothing but a shitty pixelated firework display, smoke and mirrors. But I have one option left, pressing those keys, those 3 keys you assured me will make me God, with complete power over your entire world. And so I depress all 3 simultaneously.
Nothing. Nothing happens. You’ve looked all around the area within your lazy arm’s reach for one, but you have absolutely no fucks to give. So I find myself writing this letter to you, with a pencil, a fucking pencil, that keeps on breaking, but that’s ok, all I need is a blade to scare the lead into a point and keep going. The pencil knows who to fear, because I could buy a new one every day. He the Pawn to your Queen, and each one of you knows your value.
Still spinning eh? Well let me tell you this. This is the last time, you God Damn Sonofabitch. You’re going out of a 4th story window. I know I’ll be out of pocket, but for that second, watching you go out the window…
Oh. Cursor is back? Hold on….
Ok. I’m going to sit down and check my emails, just for a bit. But when I’m done, oh… we’re going to finish this, once and for all.