February 19 • 06:05 AM

Social skills not required with this 'friend'

August 08, 2018
Home page, home page...wherefore art thou home page?

I miss your steady gaze, your certainty, your subtle nuances and quirky disposition.

You've pushed me and pushed me, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into your ever-present vortex. And now I need you, every day. I am your lone ranger, one of zillions, lone rangers all of us. Alas, you've had your way. We isolate ourselves with you alone. Technology and all of its internet glory.

"I'm going to consume your time now," it says. "I'm interesting and somewhat useful and you don't even have to step away from your desk. In fact, very little physical movement is required. Soon enough you'll forget all about that."

There's the flash, the big blue eye, so calm and steady that I can hardly look away.

"I'm here," the headlines say. "I'm right here in front of you with information you'd never seek out on stuff you don't really care about and aren't even marginally interested in. Read me. Right now. Read me."

I can't seem to help myself. I click.

Today you will tell me about the "30 worst foods for your heart," and "10 flirty and fun summer looks on the cheap," and "3 important legal documents everyone needs," and how "Harry & Meghan are tired of the hysteria," and all about Sharon Stone's sharing a makeup free picture. Whatever would I do without you?

I snuggle up to your Google bar. I can't resist that sleek, blank space. "Type in anything," it beckons. "Just anything you can think of and I'll give you more than you can handle."

Of course I take the challenge. "Charlevoix," I type in. "Werner Herzog," I type. "Phillipe Petit."

"Sturgeon Moon." "Thyroid dysfunction." "Fairy symbolism." "Tempura recipes." "Edna St. Vincent Millay." "Strange Hurt." "Christopher McCandless." "Virgo." "Plain White Tees." "Secretary of State." "Cult documentaries."

No matter what I put in that beckoning white space something always crops up. With amazing speed, too.

The allure is strong. My fingers caress the keyboard by rote. I spend so much time with My Computer, My Friend, that the letters are worn off on some of the keys. I don't have to see where 'E' or 'R' or 'T' or 'S' or 'D' or 'P' are. I know exactly what to touch to produce those letters. I can do it all with my eyes closed...

...Except then I couldn't see all the attractive nonsense in the eye of my beloved home page.

Today he's offering me 'Classic movie quotes that have broken into our daily vocabulary,' and 'Inventions that were supposed to change the world but didn't' (I know the internet is not on that list) and 'Man's rude tipping method goes viral.' Whatever would I do without all this?

How can I show my enduring gratitude when Technology doesn't want to shake hands? Instead it grabs me by the collar and says "Look! Look! Touch! Touch! Now! Right Now!" And so I do.

I no longer know the person who was reluctant to get an "answering machine"—that's what they were called in the '90s when I finally gave in mid-decade after my dad gave me the one he used at his shop. That person has gone the way of the dinosaur. I am now a woman with "voice mail" and "DMs." Oh. And a Kindle and wireless speaker, too.

I do not recognize the person who didn't watch DVDs—video tapes were just fine in my VCR thank you very much—until 2008 when I finally hooked up the DVD player I'd received from a "friend" three years earlier but couldn't bear to even touch (if you know what I mean). Ah, but time passes and "a friend" becomes a glitch on the radar screen that manifests itself into a free DVD player and VHS tapes become things of the past and there it is again...Technology. Grabbing me by the sleeve and pulling me right into the middle of it.

Always there. Always waiting. Always ready to help me spend my time, to take me places I never even knew I wanted to go, to be my ever present companion...

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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