The MW files: The Net Doctor is In

(First published in Man’s World, May 2002, and nothing’s changed since then…)

My friend and I have come up with a great business plan for a new website! Initially, I was a bit chary of putting all my savings into it, but he says that you just can’t lose, everyone online is minting money hand over fist. I’m writing to you so that you have a chance of getting in on the ground floor. Wish us luck!P.S. He is correct about the money side of things, isn’t he?

Your friend is to be congratulated on his wisdom. The Net is exactly as yield-friendly as the marvellous South Sea Investment Opportunity of the Century, fondly called the Bubble, was. Of course I wish you luck, and of course I’d invest if I didn’t have all my funds tied up in old-economy blue chips at the moment (what a shame).

About three years ago, I picked up a bunch of celebrity domain names at a discount. I’ve successfully sold most of them, but one guy, an African dictator with a colourful history, says he wants to conduct negotiations face-to-face. It’s flattering–he’s asked me to join him at his fortress. The flight leaves tomorrow: how much do you think I can ask for?

Under these circumstances, we’d be prepared to change strategy ever so slightly. Compromise on the first-class air ticket out of there if need be; consider yourself an excellent haggler if you leave with your skin in one piece–and still attached to the rest of you.

Every time I log on to the Internet, there is a strange beeping sound and when I’ve finished the session, I find a message that says: “Your files have been uploaded into the Darth Vader Database. We enjoyed watching you pick your nose. Thank you.” Do I have a virus?

No. You have the equivalent of an Ebola epidemic and are probably being stalked by a gang of ravening Visigoths. We advise trashing your computer, checking your apartment for hidden cameras and moving to another city.

Can I use my company credit card to pay for porn on the Internet? Will anyone find out what I’m doing?

Yes, you can. Of course they won’t. Right until the nice little man in the office accounts section takes your bills for Streaming Suzie All Night Long to your boss’s boss.

I chucked up my Rs 1.5 lakh job with an MNC a year-and-a-half ago in order to join a dotcom for Rs 3 lakh a month plus stock options. That was before the tech bloodbath, when my dotcom was one of the many that went belly-up. Since then, I’ve sold my wife’s jewellery, my Mitsubishi Lancer, my blue-chip stocks and I’ve been jobhunting for the last four months to no avail. Any suggestions?

We’ve heard that the demand for white-collar tea boys is booming. If it’s funds you’re worried about, sell the wife. (Okay, okay, just pawn her. If the chaiwallah business goes well, you might even be able to buy her back at some stage.)

I’m writing in to share with you this wonderful new way of getting your friends to do good with their lives. A website I logged onto is sending me three chain letters a day, supporting causes like the emancipation of Afghan women and the abolishing of child labour. Just so’s it remains fun, I send out a free Internet joke with every chain letter! I hope you enjoy your six emails every day! My friends will also be emailing you every day with their chain letters. We’re so glad you’re joining in with this great expression of love and harmony, and we hope that the luck all those chain letters will undoubtedly bring in will make you happy and successful!

This is so thoughtful we had to wipe away a tear. How can we put our appreciation into words? We can’t. So instead, we logged you on to one of the cutest little websites we’ve ever met: it sends you 12 chain letters and 14 Internet jokes for every one that you send out! Isn’t that wonderful? Have a NICE day!

All my life, I have been brought up to follow the blessed path of religious fundamentalism. When I began browsing the Net, I discovered to my horror that there are literally thousands of sites out there preaching tolerance, peace, coexistence between different religions and other pernicious nonsense that goes completely against the tenets of my faith. My sect has carpet-bombed the offices of those within reach, but we cannot shut them all down. Is there a global forum where we can complain about this blatant and evil infringement of our rights?

Yes. It’s called a chat room, and while it is sadly bomb-and-warhead-free, it does allow you to express your legitimate grievances. Right up there along with the guy who thinks all women should be confined to kitchens and made to wear leather outfits, the man who has an invisible army of bears behind him, and all those really nice people who think they’ve slept with aliens. You’ll feel completely at home.

My best friend told me that if you play with the Internet every day, hair will grow on your palms and you’ll turn blind and be robbed of your energy. I didn’t believe him, but now I notice furry deposits on my palms, my vision seems to be blurring and I feel tired all the time. Don’t tell me to get offline–I am very ashamed of this, but there seems to be no way I can stop myself from switching the modem back on. Please help!

It is a common myth that the Internet causes blindness, tiredness and hairy palms. You must remember that it is perfectly natural to want to play with the Internet–after all, it is an important part of you and there is no harm in wanting to get to know all about its functions! It can also be a very pleasurable and stimulating activity, so don’t be put off by old wives’ tales.

There are simple ways to deal with your problems. For starters, back off from the screen to a distance of two feet instead of pressing your nose up against it. Something tells me that if you remove the toaster crumbs, accumulated cigarette ash and mouse hair from your keyboard and (this is important) wash your hands, the furry deposits will go away of their own accord. The tiredness, too, can be dealt with by exercising just a little bit of willpower: every night, between the hours of midnight and eight am, turn the PC and modem OFF and go to sleep. If this is difficult, take a two-hour break to begin with and then work your way up to spending eight hours away from the machine and in your own bed. Or somebody else’s bed. The details are unimportant.

Woe to all of you damned online souls! The Web is Satan’s handmaid! Save your miserable souls while you still can! And remember: if God had meant us to use computers, He would have built us with chips and keyboards included. Believe in the Inner Net, not the Internet!

We notice you wrote this with a ballpoint pen and assume that God has conducted the necessary modifications, complete with a set of 10 refills, on your hands. We hesitate to tell you this, but Satan is definitely not the creator of the Web–the Pentagon is.

Oh hell, that means you might actually have a point…

Nilanjana S Roy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s