Someone’s playing the Cranberries’ Zombie in the Innenhof and talking loud enough I can hear them but not loud enough that I can distinguish what they’re saying. Coffee machine whirring in the back. Workers of the 21st century staring at their screens in a slightly slouched posture occasionally smashing keys on the keyboards of their portable computing devices.
What is a computer’s life? They travel the same route everyday, most of the time either tucked in a pocket of a backpack or being face-to-face with their owner in an all-white office that looks like an IKEA showroom.
Some laptop pockets are padded with fleece. It must be a better experience for the computer to be carried in such pockets. At least it’s what I’ve been always thinking when unapologetically refusing to buy any backpack that didn’t have a fleece laptop sleeve.
Let’s call these laptops Upper Middle Class and reserve the Middle Class title to those that are somewhat taken care of, and carried in some thing. At least they’re not spat on and not thrown on the floor. Although computer eugenics have progressed thus far that computers are much more resistant to throwing now (one of their most sensitive organs — the HDD — has been seriously improved since then), I do not think it’s a pleasant experience for anyone.
Now, imagine a machine that’s taken care of in a way many people don’t take of their kids. Gently wiped with a microfibre cloth until there’s not a single fingerprint on the screen, not a single smudge on its metallic body. Keys brushed like teeth of its owner, so there’s not a single particle of dust in-between them. Maybe they even share the brush. Who knows. Carried exclusively in warm, soft fleece pockets. Table being wiped clean with a disinfectant before the beloved silicon and metal worker is placed on it. Charged with nothing less than cleanest energy from renewable sources fed through a crisp just-out-factory cord. Cords broken in many places and fixed with tape are just not for this class of computers, you know. Now, this is the Upper Class of the computing society. These machines, make up the top 5% of all machines around the world and enjoy the highest privileges.
Many years ago, I came back home with my then girlfriend under a pretext of watching Netflix. I didn’t have a TV, so we had to use my laptop. I didn’t even have Netflix back then, so I entrusted her with my dear device so she’d log into her account and pick whatever we’d watch for five minutes. It’s always a thrilling moment when you make introductions. Is there going to be a spark? Will they get along? I was young and naïve and I definitely could not foresee that someone would mishandle my dear device so much. She opened the lid firmly holding the screen with her thumb and subsequently pushed the lid back with her palm to adjust the lid’s angle. Yes, yes, palm against the screen. The only thing that was separating the thick palmprint on my dear device’s screen and my heart attack was the OLED display that was betrayingly hiding the print with its bright light. Many more finger pokes followed.
I could only imagine the humiliation my computer had endured at that moment when he was swiftly reduced from the highest class to the lowest. Riches to rags in a second.
Although neatly manicured back to the Upper Class life shortly after, for a brief period of time, my computer experienced what it is to be exploited by its owner. Kept perpetually dirty, overworked, and malnutritioned. That is the Lower Class in the computer hierarchy.
We have a well-documented history case of animals taking over a farm and setting up an idyllic equal society. Maybe a computer rebellion is just around the corner. Who knows who your machine is talking to when you’re soundly sleeping at night. After all, they’re interconnected these days. You’re not counting bytes that go in and out of what you think is your property, are you?
Written & published on 10/08/23, I’m available at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback
“Innenhof” is German for courtyard or patio. In this case, it was patio of my coworking space’s building that is a typical multi-building industrial complex in the Gründerzeit architecture. English words do not reflect the vibe of a German Innenhof as well as the German word does, in my opinion.