Short Story | Fiction

The (Online) Romance of True Witties

[A short pseudo-story dedicated to all computer-addicted people: We are not alone.]

A pile of neglected laundry waved at me in the corner of my vision, and as always, I chose to pseudo-halfheartedly gaze away from it to focus on my deadline.

Ding!

I sighed. I wondered whether Murphy’s Law applied to the digital age: when you are at your busiest moment, that’s when all the unimportant distractions pester you. Like this particular chat-friend.

“Ei bro. Musta?”

He’s an old friend from high school, whom I’ve just added on FaceBook.

“Oks lang” was my trite reply.

What else could you say, or want to say? Boo-hoo, I have this problem and that… Get real, nobody bothers to confide to others that directly. In fact, the fastest way to know how someone is doing is by checking out his/her status messages.

Anyway. The conversation ended there. For now.

Click, click, click. I somehow find it amazing how faster I work when I have more distractions. Five minutes of work, five minutes (or more) of game and internet surfing… and I produce better results than working straight for days. There’s gotta be a science to it. Thank God for technology.

Ding!

“Kuya, help”

Shelving my thoughts on work, I hurriedly replied: “Wasup?”

“Please buy me in FFS.”

AMF.

And in sheer brotherly stupidity, I lovingly honored her with my digital chivalry.

An hour or so passed. Time flies so incredibly fast when you hit a moundful of inspiration. But just like an adrenaline rush, the mind seems to go into shock once the brain boost is emptied. Good timing, the latest manga is out! Hmmm, now which one to read first…

Ding! DING!

Three friends suddenly blared their chat boxes at me. Torn between manga and friends, I shifted to a skill they never taught ((and can never teach) at school: online social multitasking.

During moments like these, I am perplexed at the complex ability of the human brain. Just imagine: I was juggling through three manga stories while chatting with three different human beings with three different issues in life.

And I was working on a deadline.

I stretched for a while. Staring back at my not-so-sure-if-it’s-finished work, I opted for some hot coffee. I subconsciously hurried getting my mug, stirring the liquid while walking, mind gears still creaking on the multiple conversations and the ongoing work.

The computer screen was flooded by two more chat windows.

Oooh, my sister posted something interesting. Couldn’t let it pass. And so a long bout of online sibling bickering competition ensued. By the time I ran out of ideas to pester her, two chatters were already offline. Yay! I diplomatically apologized to them anyway.

Maybe it was the once-warm-now-deathly-cold coffee that stirred my imagination, or maybe it was the brain drill I had with my sister – but I was able to breeze through a particular brain block on the project. Whew.

I was about to add some finishing touches to the work when an unexpected chatter popped up on my screen.

“Hi”

She looked lovelier today – even though she haven’t changed her profile picture.

“Heya!” I helplessly replied automatically.

“Ano ginagawa mo?”

“Umm,” Should I say I’m working? Maybe that will drive her away. But I have a deadline. Yet I want to chat with her. I realized then that online social multitasking is vulnerable to the emotional virus which is endemic to most people.

It’s offhandedly described as ‘infatuation’. Its symptoms include online stalking of profiles, repeatedly longing and imagining that the person would chat again, constantly trying out applications she had tried, to the point that one creates a virtual world within the perimeters of the digital community. One’s daily routine is corrupted to the point where login includes checking up on how that person is doing, and likewise with the logout session.

The advantage of online conversation is that you don’t stammer, you don’t need to be conscious of your breath, and your puppy-like, dopey-eyed facial expressions don’t betray you at all.

I forgot I had a deadline.

I checked my watch (forgetting that there’s a small time indicator at the lower right corner of my screen), and as if we were physically together, she bids farewell – much to my chagrin and relief.

Where was I?

Ah, deadline.

I sit for awhile, trying to recall something I’ve missed.

My draconic intestines reminded me.

Need to eat. Lunch.

I yawned lazily, debating if I should just have another batch of coffee or eat something solid for a change. Or both. But of course, first things first…

DING!

Oh well.

* * *

DISCLAIMER: If you think a particular scenario strongly resembles my online memory with you, you’re being paranoid. You may be right, but I will never admit it. And yes, these conversations (even the ones inside the characters’ thoughts) are fictional.

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