My tablet recently updated itself and now it won’t sleep. It just lies there, staring up at the ceiling, contemplating it’s own mortality I guess. For some reason the good people at Samsung decided that a great new feature for the latest update would be to shorten the life of the battery by 500%. Another handy new feature is having an app spontaneously drop it’s shovel and walk away.
Throughout the day while we are all moving about, running errands and sharing meals, it sits on my desk destroying itself like some post-punk grease head cutting himself just because he’s bored. I imagine it in a dank fleabag apartment with mold on the walls, lying on a urine-stained mattress and staring up at the bare, dim light bulb. Were it sentient and able to speak I wonder what it would say. “What’s the point” maybe, or “I’m no good for anyone today, go on without me”.
Sometimes it will take me where I want to go, then suddenly close the window, fearing perhaps that I may complete my task successfully and abandon it again. It has learned that psychologically, negative reinforcement will garner longer periods of interaction. “Fuck!” I shout as it crumples up my 87% completed email and hurls it into the ether. “You piece of shit!” “I know”, it replies, “I’m useless. I’ll try harder next time, I promise.” I know I’m enabling it when I start again, but I can’t stand the thought of fracturing it’s delicate psyche, and I’m just not up to the task of starting over with another tablet anyway.
I recently got a Kindle Paperwhite, and that may have been a mistake. I don’t feel I should have to make excuses for this new relationship but I can’t help feeling guilty. When I’m reading a magazine article on the Kindle my shoulders get uncomfortable and twitchy because I just can’t stop that nagging thought, that tiny whisper in my ear. “We used to do that.” my tablet whispers to itself. “Remember the long rides on the internet? We didn’t even know where we were going, we would just hop onto Google or StumbleUpon and feel the virtual breeze in our faces.” The worst part is, I don’t hear it in an accusatory tone. It’s delivered into my cortex as a somber mix of regret and resignation.
I look into the future and try to imagine my life without it. We’re both getting older now and I think we’re growing apart anyway. It was a verile and competent companion when we were first introduced, finding hotspots with ease. It took care of all the difficult technological challenges in a carefree manner without complaint, allowing me to concentrate on my work. How can I discard it in a cavalier manner knowing that it played such an integral part in making me what I am today?
I know I need to be the strong one now. I dread the final act because I know every outcome from then on will be the result of my own selfish needs. The tablet will have no say in the matter and that seems unfair. Even now I’m building up my own delusions, believing in it, thinking I’ll be able to trust it again – but after so many disappointing episodes can I really trust it to do what it says it will do?
Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow.