It all good, they imply, there’s an easy way out (or in, depending on your point of view). Whenever you’re ready, they say. Just say the word and the genie will appear bearing fairy tales. The genie goes by several names in many languages, but the basic story is the same: register, leave it to the deus ex machina and live happily ever after.
But there’s an invisible stair in this easy three-step guide, an innocuous little box you have to tick to signify that you have read and accepted the fine print. You lie and tick it anyway.
Here be the fine print:
Create a carefully worded profile. Tell some friends and family (maybe subconsciously hoping somebody will stop you, but they will only tell you success stories – because everyone knows one, including yourself). Get a million responses. Put your life on hold while you sift through them. Feel more and more confused and pressured as the responses increase and your time/sense of control decrease.
Lose some sleep over any email “relationship” you start. Lose even more wondering whether the word “relationship” can appropriately be applied to the situation. Obsess over each word, phrase and punctuation mark in the said situation/relationship. Lose all sense of proportion. Abandon all normalcy in your dealings with fellow human beings.
Struggle against a growing sense of injustice and self pity. Try to ignore the creeping sense of ignominy. Get used to living with the echoes of your previous strong (and highly perceptive) protests against this sort of thing.
Start to dread your email. Greet long meetings with relief because the greedy genie cannot reach you there. Spend the greater part of these meetings thinking “Why me?”. Take revenge on the friends and family by passing on the responsibility of making judgements for you.
Fight the knowledge that any loneliness you may have felt before was probably an illusion, because now you’re really alone. Outside, in the dark, when it’s raining, quite abandoned by the responsible adult who was supposed to be in charge of you – yourself.
Did I mention that you have to pay the genie for this privilege? Perhaps you go insane in the effort to cope and so finally find peace in an institution where you’re denied access to a computer. That would be worth the money.
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