Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dis-Connect

It's not for nothing they call it the World Wide Web. Webs are deceptive. Gossamer like. Strangely resiliently. Primarily intended to trap. Easy to rebuild. And inhabited by strange, creepy, crawly creatures. When the Web collapsed in Pakistan it rendered many of these analogies redundant. Others were reaffirmed. I’m not sure quite how to react to internet failure. On the one hand there are important emails which need to get through. On the other, I am spared gigabytes of spam promising to enlarge my penis or to get me a better credit card rating. I am frustratingly unable to reach the BBC site to check and see what has happened in London this morning. I vaguely know that bombs have exploded in a city that was and ( in an emotional sense) continues to be home to me. La Tempesta, a friend, has just texted me to let me know that the blasts were terrible but that she and our mutual friends are well and alive. Internet breakdown has also meant that posting on this blog has been an absolute nightmare. Yes. I have mixed feelings about net failure.

All this disconnected thinking does come together in the strangest way possible. I am busy in a meeting entirely focused on the job in front of me. My mobile telephone rings. Damn. It is La Tempesta from London. “I’m busy. Can I call you back?” “Most certainly NOT. Get OUT right now. Who is this weirdo you’ve gotten to call me.” “Err. Me ?” I struggle, conscious of a dozen eyes staring at me. “Yes, YOU, Idiot.” “He wants to be exorcised and needs my help.” I stare palely at the other participants of the meeting. “Excuse me gentlemen. I will just be back.”

Cut to 1994. I am obsessed with the internet. I lamely believe that it is the best thing to have happened to me. I can now meet intelligent, good looking, talented, single men. They will fall out of cyberspace right into my lap. Oh Joy. And I don’t even have to dress up for a cyber date. I can look like a dog, not bother to shave and still have them pursue me. Events proved otherwise. For many years cyberspace provided me with deep and dark disappointment. In one comic interlude I remember running as fast as my legs could carry me, because the undying object of my cyberaffection all month long turned out to be a bald, ill dressed midget with body odour and a stammer from hell. For me the net was doomed to be dotted with losers of all shades, hues, tones and genres. I did not want to be confused with them. I gave up.

Artboy was different. Or so I thought. We chatted online in the early 90s. We met briefly in Karachi at a cafe. There was no electricity. Not even the tiniest kilovolt of passion. Nevertheless, there was a sense of decency that prevailed. Email addresses are exchanged. We never meet again, but connected once in a while on the internet. Years go by. One day in the course of an internet conversation La Tempesta’s name crops up. Artboy would like her number. I assume this is in connection with his budding interest in writing. I ask La T and she agrees. The number is passed on. I guess all is well. Until I get The Call.

“Exorcise?” I mutter. “Yes. He called once. And then his mother called again. Shit. I’m going to have to change my number.” “Chill. Why on earth would he want you to exorcise him?” “Well," she said, with a deep sigh," I wrote a disturbing article on the subject fifteen years ago. And he seems to remember it all these years later.” Damn. “I told him that it was a long time ago. That I really did not remember it. And that, quite honestly, I did not want to remember it. It was disturbing enough when I was researching it.” I gulp. “I am sorry. Truly deeply sorry. I had no idea that someone would be looking to you for an exorcism. It was the last thing on my mind” I mutter.

The point of the matter of the fact is that the net is a strange place. On the one hand I have met some wonderful strangers who have gone on to become close friends. Lovers even. On the other hand there are people like Artboy. I suppose the problem lies in the nature of the web. The rules that regulate us in everyday life are momentarily suspended. You can be who you like. And more importantly, you let people slip in unnoticed relying on their net personas to guide you through it all. And that can be a very dangerous thing.

5 Comments:

Blogger Sister Spikey Mace of Desirable Mindfulness said...

I, too, have met my share of weirdos and assholes on the net. But I have also met people I have come to love with my whole heart, friends who have become family or loves. And I always come back to the idea that I have had the same experience in real life. A ton of people who leave me cold, a handful of very strange people I hope forget we ever exchanged words, and the smallest sprinkling of people special enough to me that I would entertain the hope of an afterlife in the hopes we would be together there, too, if I weren't so adamantly against it.

9:55 am  
Blogger livinghigh said...

:-) how very strange. i look at de net as de sole way of meeting new guys too.. i have horrible luck at parties, though everyone sez i look and dance great! sigh... heheheh.. exorcism!
;-)

10:10 am  
Blogger s said...

hey uber,

whats happening? its been more than 10 days...i need my fix.

6:50 pm  
Blogger say what? said...

give the man a mask and he will reveal his trueself..

thats what oscar wilde said :)

assuming mask is the internet .. no wonder people want to be super heroes of their own world. as long as they get to haev it .. they will be addicted

sigh

am a victim :P

11:47 am  
Blogger s said...

that's a brilliant quote, tdh.

4:15 pm  

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