Of course, the main problem with grappling with the internet is the detritus of words it leaves rolling round your head. After a full day’s wrestling with protocols and mirrors and God knows what else, words get lodged and won’t go away. Cyberduck, for instance. I needed to use a thing called Cyberduck: the duck wasn’t playing on this occasion but the word got stuck. Cyberduck. How can you admit to yourself that you’ve been baffled and bamboozled by something called Cyberduck? ‘Yes, I’ve been having some trouble with my Cyberduck, doctor.’ You fall asleep, and the word echoes in your mind, ricocheting off the walls. You mutter it in your sleep. It plays all the next day, rattling round like a demented bird stuck in a chimney. Cyberduck.
Or take logins. I’ve discussed this with many people, but no one seems to have the same problem with just simply logging in to something that I have. Once in, I can usually make it work, whatever it is, often by the sophisticated expedient of yelling at the computer and chain smoking. Works for me. But logging in? I had to ring a support line, got through to a splendidly grouchy support person, and told him I couldn’t log in. We did it together, over the phone, and of course it worked perfectly. ‘So why wouldn’t it work when I did it?’ I demanded? He didn’t know. ‘Because you’re a moron,’ came the unspoken thought down the line. ‘I bet you can’t even make Cyberduck work, can you? Moron.’
And with some things now, you can’t ring anyone up, you have to go on the ‘wiki’, where you find posts by the bewildered and the insane, those lost souls who will never be able to log into Cyberduck, and who cannot explain the problem, nor understand the answer. On one such board, you couldn’t post your question until you had clicked on a little emoticon that expressed ‘how the problem made you feel’. This, seemingly, was an essential part of the process, thus morphing it from a dull but pressing technical problem into a psychological one, into something about feelings.’It made me feel like killing half the world’ wasn’t an option here: most people seemed to go for the accurate but somehow unsatisfying ‘frustrated’. But merely having to characterise it in this way made me feel things too: alas, no emoticon for how the process of being obliged to express a feeling about the problem made me feel was available. I went for ‘euphoric’, just as a curve ball.
Each little issue, every login denied and password not recognised and visit our wiki for questions similar to yours eats up just a little bit more of the joy for living that we are all born with such a sadly limited stock of. So shun the Cyberduck: it won’t work anyway, and even if it does, it probably won’t make much difference to anything in the longer run. It’ll just fill your head up with nonsense and worry and the debilitating feeling that you have failed some essential but also completely incomprehensible test, of which the terms are never fully stated, and the result never made manifest. Go out into the sun instead: laugh and play and sing. No password required there.