Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cyber Christmas

So I bought a web cam. Or is it webcam? Spell check accepts both. It’s kind of a “to me, from me” Christmas gift. I went ahead and opened it and everything.

I had a Blackberry once and ultimately had to admit to myself that I had no business with a Blackberry. I was working then and believed the calendar feature would be so great. Never again, so I thought, would I go to the wrong place for a meeting, or show up at the right place on the wrong day.

Turns out those tiny, shiny, infuriating nubs on the Blackberry’s keyboard are all buttons with multiple functions. So an “A” isn’t only an “A” but also a “~” and a “%” depending on if you are using caps or not, which is of course another function on another nub. I found I most wanted to use those nubs to create a line of cursing:!%~@##^&*!! But even that took too much concentration and the pinpoint mechanical fingers of a futuristic droid, which I most certainly am not.

I never used the calendar. Not once. I got email on the thing and it just felt like I was being pestered and pursued. And I paid that exorbitant rate for the mandatory two years! Why, I could have had lots of new shoes for the money I wasted on that glitzy gadget.

Which brings me back to the webcam: I bought it because a friend of mine went to Zurich for Christmas to visit a mutual friend of ours who now lives there. We three agreed how much fun it would be to go to the next level of chat while they were there and I was here. We wouldn’t just IM on FB, we’d SEE each other while we talked! Doesn’t that sound GREAT?!

In honesty, the webcam connected without snafu. Loading the software – no problem-o. It’s what comes next that is so disconcerting. The thing offered to take my picture for the profile it would post in contact books around the world. Okay.

Now, I’m with the crowd that wears “readers” – those half glasses you can get at Target after you guess what your prescription would be if you went to the eye doctor and got real glasses. I use them when I’m on the computer. I’m wearing them now and feel perfectly happy. But this thing took my picture as I leaned in and tilted my head back to get the proper angle so I could see the shutter button on the screen.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the standard, old, funky-person pose. When your head tilts back, your jaw juts forward, and your mouth must open. If in vanity, you picked the weaker power on your readers, you still have to squint, which, as a final insult, exposes your front teeth. That’s the pose. My new webcam took a picture of me peering at it as though it were something gooey stuck on the mirror. Here, I’ll just get that with a tissue.

So that seems unfair at the very least. Here I am in the 21st Century and my own stuff is making fun of me. I think I deserve better.

To cap it all off, the three of us have yet to overcome the time difference between Zurich and Benicia, so no one has called anyone on the webcam phone. We’ve just been sending emails back and forth. So turn-of-the-century!

As I review this debacle, it seems pretty clear; they should be out enjoying Zurich anyway. Why call me up and prattle on about how cool it is to be there. I know that already!

I guess if we were love-struck and separated by fate, a webcam could provide us the screen to place our fingers on, ever so tenderly, as though actually touching, instead of virtually.

As it is, my new toy mocks me in cruelest techno-cyber sort of way. Like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it never blinks, but waits for me to squint again. I know I can unplug it, dismantle its cyber-mind. But that seems like surrender. Defeated by a Blackberry, I will not concede victory to Skype!

Merry Christmas to Zurich! And to all a good night!