Death of a virtual friend

If you dropped in as I write this column, you would find me seated in my green recliner, a clipboard and pen in hand. I look comfortable, but only on the outside. Inside I feel torn apart with grief. I should call my friend the grief counsellor, but I doubt that even she could help.

You see, my computer died two days ago. For that reason I have tried to resurrect the an­cient art of writing with pen and paper. Later I will attempt to drag my wife away from her computer and use it to type my column. Then I will hand-carry it to the Wellington Advertiser because Anna’s computer doesn’t have an internet connection. Meanwhile, I sit here in a state of confusion, trying to write, but lost without my beloved computer. 

Everything I do centres around my computer. Before I retired, I would go into the office, exchange greetings, get the latest news and gossip, and then go to work. During the day I’d find time to chat with fellow employees, argue politics, solve the world’s problems, and get intellectually stimulated. Following retirement, I’d get the same thing as I began my day opening email and checking out a “list serve,” where I exchange ideas with about 200 other writers. But today, an intellectual fog has settled over me because I can’t communicate with friends. As I said, my computer died two days ago.

I use my computer, not only for writing columns and contacting friends, but for many other things. With it, I arrange for additional activities such as: writing assignments, media interviews, and book promotions. People also ask me to critique manuscripts, mostly through my website and email. Rarely do I use that old-fashioned thing called a telephone. Fortunately, I have written appointments on a calendar – but I didn’t include all the contact information. So here I sit, trying to write as I stew about a dozen other things. Did I tell you that my computer died two days ago? 

We keep in touch with our family through my computer, so that information stream has dried up. Our son Ken, in Victoria, tells us about his latest flying adventure over the mountains of B.C. When we don’t hear from him, we wonder if he has crashed his airplane. When we don’t get our almost daily email notes from our daughter Linda, the equestrian, we wonder if she has had a confrontation with a young horse and suffered another concussion. But then, if Ken crashed and Linda got knocked senseless, we likely wouldn’t hear from either one, would we?

Our oldest son, David, the family computer nerd, is organizing a new computer and installing my old files, so I do want to hear from him. He will need to figure out how to use the telephone. I just don’t know if I’m coming or going since my computer died two days ago.

So a word to all my readers. If you don’t have a computer, think about your great misfortune in not having all those wonderful things a computer can do for you. A computer can become a dearly-loved member of your family.

But on the other hand, if you do not have a computer, and if you plan never to buy one, you just might be the cleverest and luckiest person alive. 


Ray Wiseman