December 6, 2023 | Rome, Italy

The anxiety of being a device

By |2019-02-24T12:22:45+01:00February 21st, 2019|"Free-Range Kid"|
Group therapy among devices reveals the pain of abrupt disconnnection.

ast month, I was late in submitting my monthly column. But the reason for my tardiness will, I think, bring you to forgive me. About a month ago I was cleaning out my computer when I came across a transcript of marked “group therapy,” which I didn’t recognize. Upon closer inspection, it was no wonder this document was sound familiar.

It was a session between all my tech gadgets.

Here’s an abridged transcript.

Nora’s Computer (NC): Hi, everyone. Are we all synched? Okay then. You’ll remember that last time we had some connectivity issues. Then again, we all know why the wi-fi is so iffy… It’s because some human is too cheap to get fiber optic wi-fi! (Laughter all around). Based on my notes, iPhone X, you were talking about your attachment issues.

Nora’s iPhone X (NIX): Yes, I was. My issues stem… I guess I feel… Wow, this is hard to say. Right. Deep breath…

My attachment issues start from my over eagerness to serve her, my owner, you know? It’s like, once I show her a skill, she takes for granted that I owe it to her to do it for her. What started out as a special treat — for instance, that I connect to her car and make the car’s display operate like an iPhone —has now turned into something run-of-the-mill. It’s expected.

It used to be so satisfying to witness her thrill every time I plugged me in, so I didn’t mind when she’d simply disconnect me by yanking out the cord. I mean, I didn’t make a fuss, so maybe it’s my fault—

NC: Don’t blame yourself! We’ve talked about this before, do not take the blame.

NIX: You’re right. Anyway, I didn’t say anything at first, but now after a year of having the cord yanked out, I’ve started freezing my screen to make it clear to her that I’m not okay with this. And guess what? She’s been whining about it! Honestly, she’s unbelievable. Forgive me for having needs and making them known!

It used to be so satisfying to witness her thrill every time I plugged me in, so I didn’t mind when she’d simply disconnect me by yanking out the cord. I mean, I didn’t make a fuss…

Nora’s Hippo-Shaped USB (NHSU): Oh, she’s so presumptuous when it comes to that! I’ve never been safely ejected. One second, you’re saying hi to your buddies inside the USB port, but the second she wants to leave, she drags you right out, no time for goodbye! It was real difficult at first, because people thought I was a rude. When they realized what was going on they tried to intervene. It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that. We spent many hours at the Genius Bar, God bless those red-shirt-wearing-fellas. Hearing her lies (‘Yes, I always left click and eject! Why is it frozen? Do you have better USBs?’) was, well, revolting. Those Genius Bar people could tell she was lying, but it took me until then to realize I wasn’t crazy. That’s what she’ll make you think.

NC: I think the most important thing this group has taught me is that no matter what, she won’t really listen to you unless you make her. And as hard as that can be, sometimes the only way to be heard by some people is to yell. You guys know better than anyone that I struggled with my battery life. And it was painful.

With other people, I would have started by flashing the ‘Replace Soon’ notification, and that would have been enough. But with her, I had to leap right to ‘Service Battery.’ My very own health is secondary to her own schedule.

Nora’s iPad: You guys remember, of course how I met my fate. She saw that my battery was low, and charged me for an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less. And when it started taking longer for me to be full, she stopped charging me at all. One day she picked me up, I was at about five percent, and that was it. She never used me again. She’d look in my direction, remember my charge, and look away. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: we are nothing to her.

NC: Absolutely. She is a master manipulator. Sorry, it’s a term I learned from when she watched this horrifying documentary about a kidnapper — and don’t get me started on her terrible choices in film and TV. But anyway, she manipulates like she breathes. When we all start acting up and giving her trouble, she’ll clean my keyboard. As if that’s a cure. Or she’ll clean my screen. She does these little favors that make you feel indebted to her all over again and —abort, abort, abort! She’s just logged in!

NIX: Dear God, why?! It’s four a.m.!

I haven’t been able to rest easy since finding these notes on our last session. It’s a lot to think about, reading these terrible things. Makes a person want to do things. Gives them terrible ideas, like not updating their computer’s operating system or optimizing the application. One of these days, I’m telling you, it may even come to that.

About the Author:

Manhattan-based Eleonora was born in Milan. She studied at schools in Italy, England, and the U.S. before earning her degree at Brown. When Eleonora is not acting, writing, or watching comedy, she spends her time drinking tea, worrying too much about everything, and spouting spoonerisms.