“brb g2g do stufs irl” by Helen Roberts, Perth, Western Australia

Connected October 16, 2011 05:25

topic: CONNECTED medium: TEXT
Liesl Schillinger, of the New York Times Book Review, said of “brb g2g do stufs irl”:
Quick peek into the mind of a rebellious 22-year old cyborg-cybergirl—that is, a woman who can’t stand being offline. When Anne’s mom sends her out on a date, Anne “missed being able to multitask. Here, there was only one conversation to follow.” She prefers the screen world to human interaction. But her date is bored by Anne’s meme talk. Helen Roberts, rather like Miriam Zolin, seems to hint at the sterility of a life that privileges virtual life over actual.

One of the Winner of the “Connected” Contest

TOSgrl: Srsly!!! Dem wur liek kisin an stufs.

Anne grinned as she read her friend’s reply.

Weeaboo32: ORLY? Pics or it didn’t happen!

There was a knock at the door and Anne cursed under her breath. She swivelled her chair around from the desk to see her mother standing in the doorway.

“Is this really what you do all day? Just sit in your bedroom on the computer?” her mother asked with a pitying look.

“You wanted something?” Anne didn’t need this.

“You know Jean? Well, her son Paul is in town and he doesn’t really know anyone so we thought it would be a good idea for the two of you to meet up. ”

Anne thought her mother looked far too pleased with herself.

“No thanks. I’m busy.”

“Oh come on! He’s already agreed and I said you would meet him for coffee this afternoon. You could do with getting out of this damn room anyway. You’re twenty-two years old. Go live your life!”

I am living you judgmental cow, Anne thought savagely. Up until that moment Anne had been very pleased with how productive she’d been. She’d gone shopping for a new pair of sneakers, finished reading her book and was now chatting with friends. The fact that she could do it all on her computer rather than wasting time running about was a bonus as far as she was concerned. Anne glared angrily but said nothing.

What’s the point? People like that never understand.

Her mother continued.

“You don’t have any friends. This is your chance to meet someone.”

“I have friends.”

“Online,” her mother said it like it was a dirty word. Her face screwed up as though she’d eaten something bitter.

“Yes online!” Anne was getting defensive. Her mother sensed it and changed her approach.

“Look, I’m just asking you to switch it off for a few hours and go meet this guy. Please?”

Anne turned back to the computer with a huff and tapped a few keys.

TOSgrl: g2g BBL

She hit the send button and closed the connection.


Her mother knew enough to retreat while she was still ahead and shut the door behind her.

Sitting across from Paul in the busy cafe, Anne was getting fidgety.

She always felt uneasy when she was away from the computer for too long. It was like everyone else was still at some amazing party and she was missing out because she’d gone home early.

What if the new Brett Stone single is finally announced and I’m not there to squee with my friends? If I mention it later they’ll be all like “d00d, that’s so last week.” Anne shifted nervously in her chair.

Or, there might be wank in the BrettLove community. If the mod deletes it before I get back, I wont know what everyone’s talking about. The worries circled around in her head as she sat listening to Paul talk. She missed being able to multitask. Here, there was only one conversation to follow. Normally she could be chatting with multiple friends while looking up websites and streaming videos.

Paul broke off his story.

“Are you alright?“ he asked with a frown. Now was her chance.

“Sorry, I’ve gotta go to the loo. I’ll be right back.”

She made a quick dash for the ladies room and locked herself in a stall. The relief was instant. Sitting on the toilet, Anne fished out her phone. She could feel herself relaxing as she connected to the net and messaged her friends. It was a meditative experience leaving her mind calm and clear. She’d had her fix and with her newfound cool it was time get back out there and face the real world.

“So, you were telling me about your mini road trip over the weekend,” she said as she slid back into her seat. Paul smiled and shook his head.

“Why don’t you tell me about what you did?”

“Actually, I got a blaster worm on my netbook from downloading, umm, let’s just say some stuff and I spent the entire weekend cleaning the little bugger off my hard drive.”

“Sounds terrible,” Paul said sympathetically.

“Yeah! I couldn’t open anything but I managed to install Compaid which allowed me to boot up in safe mode and clean off the worst bits. After that I had to fix the registry. Editing that is dicey stuff, you know? You screw that up and your whole system could crash.”

His eyes started to glaze over.

This is useless, Anne thought sadly. They lived in such different worlds. His was a world of getting drunk at the pub with friends and watching the football. Hers, a world of 4chan and online RPG’s. That wasn’t going to change. She’d already wasted too much of her life being bored in an effort to fit in. It was like they were speaking separate languages so they just took turns talking while the other pretended to care. It was all very polite and utterly dull. Anne was glad when it was finally over.

The first thing she did when she got home was log on. Weeaboo32 was online.

Weeaboo32: How waz it!!??

TOSgrl: Boring date was boring.. orz

Weeaboo32: deets prz

TOSgrl: We had nothing in common. >_

Weeaboo32: WTFBBQ??!!

Anne smiled. These were her people. The Internet was her world and it was where she belonged.

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