I was having a quiet morning, sipping my coffee, when I heard my e-mail box ding with alarm. Actually, it was just a regular e-mail “ding,” but it sounded alarming to me. Maybe it was alarming because my girlfriend had declared a veil of silence when we woke, so I was forbidden from speaking, or making any other Jennifer-related noise (i.e., humming, slamming cabinets, crying out in pain, etc.).
My girlfriend has gotten into the habit of shushing me in the mornings. Her official position is that she needs quiet in order to complete work assignments. But I know it’s just that my incessant chatting and giggling annoy the hell out of her.
The other day she told me, “You are really sexy. But then, you open your mouth and destroy it.”
Anyway, there I was, trying to keep quiet (which is very hard for me), when I heard my e-mail ding the announcement that a message had just arrived in my in-box. I immediately clicked into my account, and found this disturbing message: “Wendy W. is searching your name on the Internet.”
The only Wendy W. I know was sitting directly across from me, typing frantically on her keyboard.
“Wendy, are you stalking me?” I asked.
“What fool thing are you blathering about now?” she responded, not bothering to look up from her computer.
“The Internet says that you’re stalking me. Is it true?” I asked with growing excitement. “Is that why you don’t want me to speak? Because you want me to remain a mystery to you, and, thus, more fun to stalk?”
Wendy slammed her computer shut, sighed heavily, and explained that she had indeed searched my name on Google, only to find my home address, because she needed to forward her mail.
“Did you need my address in order to stalk me?” I asked, hopefully.
“Listen, you idiot. I sleep next to you. If I wanted to stalk you, I’d just roll over, and stare at the back of your head.” With that, she went back to work.
Before I get into my despair upon learning that I was not being stalked, let’s touch on the creepy fact that the Internet has taken to writing me directly with unsettling information. I’m not sure why it cares that people are searching for my name, and feels the need to inform me of this activity.
The Internet has become that weird, clingy girl you met shortly after graduating college—the one who tried to win your friendship by snooping on your love interests, and delighting in filling you in on all the bad stuff she uncovered.
Why can’t the Internet simply mind its own business, and get its own life instead of usurping mine?
The most distressing thing about this episode was discovering that I wasn’t being stalked.
Before the Internet started sending me notices on who was searching for me, I could at least fantasize that all my exes—not to mention the cute girl I made eye contact with on the train and a certain blonde TV newscaster—were obsessively seeking out info on me daily.
Now, thanks to these unwelcome updates, I’ve learned that the only people searching for me are my girlfriend, a couple of childhood friends, my mom, and a somewhat mysterious creature named Mittens.
I miss life before the Internet, when you could easily suspend disbelief, and pump up your self-esteem by dreaming about the troops of admirers scrambling for a shred of precious information about you.
The Internet has crushed those dreams, and, to add insult to injury, feels compelled to notify you on a daily basis how few people can be bothered to stalk you.
Hey! I wrote a book. You can buy Dateland on Amazon.