Tuesday, July 7, 2009

George's Cyber Progeny

When I was little we had a goldfish named George. George lived in a glass bowl that sat on top of our RCA television. He had blue stones in his bowl and green plastic fronds that were supposed to look like seaweed. Actually, we had many goldfish named George. When one George would start to float instead of swim, we would have a little family ceremony in the bathroom to commit Floater George to his last swim. Then we’d go to the Kresge’s store to buy a new George. When our grandpa died, my sister lifted up the toilet seat and said “Good morning, grandpa!” Seemed logical.

Last week, I found that Google had a fish app and put it on my homepage. I selected ten fish which at the price of “free” was a real bargain. Then I played around with the color settings: neon orange fish in lime green water (made my eyes hurt), pale yellow fish in white water (calming in a toilet-like way), each fish a different color of the rainbow (like watching Sesame Street) even black fish in black water (the little white outlined fish were fun to watch but started to look demonic after awhile). I finally settled on goldfish-colored fish in Tea House Lite-blue water. Uninspired, but very George.

So now I have little fishies lazily swimming around in their cyberbowl on my homepage. They are surprisingly easy to train, unlike my girlhood goldfish. All I have to do is put my cursor in their bowl and they all crowd around it like attention-starved puppies in a pet store. If I drag my cursor gently around their bowl, they follow obediently along. But if I hop my cursor over to the CNN headlines, they all crowd around my cursor’s exit spot. I imagine their little goldfish voices sounding like Mr. Bill in the old Saturday Night Live skits – “Noooooo! Don’t gooooooooo!” Then I put my cursor back in their bowl (“Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyy”!) and click on it a few times. Little black dots of “food” appear wherever I click, initiating a feeding frenzy.

These little guys are becoming addictive. (I say “guys” because all my pets - cyber or otherwise - are male. I’ll leave the why up to the shrinks of the world.) I boot up in the morning and go right to Google to look at them. I idly click over to Google while I’m on the phone, just to see what they’re up to. I haven’t gone so far as to give them names or talk to them yet, but I fear that may not be far off.

“I’ve got to remember to feed the fish!” popped into my head this morning during a meeting with the thought "You idiot!" right on its heels. But the damage was already done. I lingered after the meeting, making inane small talk with everyone. I checked the fax machine, checked in with the receptionist, strolled to the ladies room and back, picked up voicemail and made a few phone calls from the conference room all in an attempt to stay away from those darn fish, calmly swimming back and forth back and forth, just biding their time on my desktop.

Back at my desk, clicking away furiously on my mouse, I wondered if I was overfeeding them then "You idiot!" was right there again.

I know the difference between George and Googlefish. I know the difference between IRL and IMC (in my computer)(I just made that up. Like it?). I don't waste my time on reality shows on TV because they have nothing to do with the reality in which 99% of the world operates, me included.

Oh, Google, you’ve gotten me hooked. Hooked on nothing more than bits of code. I'm caught hook, line and sinker! I'm channelling William Shatner as Captain Kirk now. . . Must . . resist. . . messages. . . from . . . googlefish. . . .must. . . not. . . .overfeed. . . .

Hmmm. . . time for a tinfoil office hat, I wonder???


  1. Ok- Now I have to go find me some fishies!!!

  2. Lori, hold still. I just have one more snap to make your new white coat all snug & tight. Don't worry this new white coat goes with everything in your wardrobe. lol