Save Me From Myself

When I began to write this article, I really couldn’t think of anything too noteworthy. But, then I remembered an old adage: Write about what you know. I began to mentally skim through my interests and hobbies. Here’s what I came up with: The eighties. Poetry. Hip hop. Books. Especially books that take place in the eighties. Not driving, because I don’t have a license. Eating. Checking people’s away messages on AOL Instant Messenger. (Don’t judge, you do it too.) The movie, Miss Congeniality, for some reason. Also Newsies. Now I stopped at Newsies. That’s a really great movie. Yet, while rich in critical possibility, it is surprisingly underrepresented in cinematic commentary. A few ideas I came up with: Why has the live-action musical disappeared? Why was Disney’s brilliant stab at reviving it received so lukewarmly? Why wasn’t a sequel considered? A dequel with an older and more mature “Spot” Conlon? (A compelling and quite attractive character but disappointingly under-developed in the movie). Why was this hypothetical character not at the center of the plotline? Should we examine the possibility of once again hiring cute swaggering boys to sell papers and exchange street-smart wisecracks up and down city blocks? Should they dance? Then I thought maybe I should stop being a nerd and write about something cool. Something like drugs or the anti-war movement. Or perhaps something like an article rife with anti-police sentiment. No, no, it’s been done. I have little new material to add to these topics. Besides, I like to think of myself as an original. See, the thing is, this is the first article I’ve ever written. My foray into journalism has consisted mainly of my position as editor of my fourth grade newspaper. Oh, and also a letter (unpublished) to “Seventeen” complaining about its too-skinny models. Okay, so here I am. 297 words. Yep. Alright. I’m just going to get right into what I really want to write about. Cut through all the pointless pandering. Slash and burn the fear of criticism. Just get to the heart of a real issue. Why can’t I sign offline? Seriously. I’m at one day, 11 hours, 56 minutes right now. That’s nothing, though. I won a contest last semester by staying on over a week at one stretch. I was really proud, too. And not only can I not sign offline, but I have a more serious problem therein: I spend way too much time thinking about IM. Scheming, if you will. For instance: When I first downloaded instant messenger last year, my screenname didn’t go gray when I was “idle.” I switched it up later because I wanted to be like everyone else and go gray. Still with me? Good. So then I realized that if my name were gray, people might decide not to IM me because I probably wasn’t there. I wanted to get their IMs anyway. Plus, whenever it wasn’t gray, people would know I was at the computer. What if it was a Saturday night? Someone might glance at a computer screen and see my name (still black) on his or her buddy list and think, that loser. She would be home on a Saturday night. She’s probably sitting there drinking-alone. I bet her only accompaniment, a pathetic one, at that, is watching reruns of Will and Grace. Reruns she wittingly downloaded onto her computer. I was unable to bear such a harsh potential judgment. So I reverted back to my non-graying state. But I made sure to put a little note in my AIM profile. A note that let everyone know I no longer went gray. (Otherwise, for a while, when they saw my always-black screenname, they might just think I was always at the computer). I have a social life. I really really do. I have friends, and I didn’t meet them in chat rooms. So why? Why am I like this? I know for a fact that I’m not alone, either. There are plenty of you out there who are empathizing with my predicament right now. What should we do, guys? Should we institute a National Offline Day, like that one they have where you’re not supposed to watch TV? I don’t think it would help. My sickness is too far along. Case in point: I have been known to say witty things over IM with premeditation for one reason and one reason only: The hope that the recipient of my hilarious communication will stick my quote in his or her profile. Or maybe use it as an away message. Creepy, huh? And when I check others’ profiles, if there’s a quote attributed to a screenname (X) I don’t recognize, I look it up and play a little game. A game wherein, based on X’s profile and away messages, I try to figure out who X is. Sometimes I’m lucky and X will include a link to his or her live journal. If it’s around morning-afternoon time, I sometimes get my kicks a different way. How? By checking how long people have been idle. Why? To see if I can figure out what time they went to bed. Oh, my god. No one is ever going to talk to me again. Or IM me. Please understand! Please be aware that I know there’s a problem. I do. But there’s something about college and being perennially online that just go together for me. If you identify with some of what I’ve written here, play it safe. Sign off for a day just to see if you can handle it. I am already lost. But maybe there’s still hope for you. And if you see me online, do me a favor: As your good deed of the day, and this will reflect positivley upon you, type me a message in bold all caps: “SIGN OFF.”