Zing went the strings of my hard drive

Essay: Just the thought of you makes me stop before I begin, 'cause I don't want you, under my skin.

May 06, 2000|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

I love you, I love you, I love you. From the first time I saw you, I loved you.

I will never hurt you. I will never lie to you.

I love you.

We know what you're thinking, hon. Last year Melissa promised her heart to you, but she proved to be just a passing computer virus, a real pain in the hard drive. You weren't even her only love. Melissa the minx turned out to be promiscuous, and no one wants to have to hear that. Eventually she went away without hurting anyone else.

You were a fool for love. But this time it's true love, you believe.

Of course, the grown-ups (mainly the FBI's New York field office) will say your new love wants only to poison everything that you hold dear, such as Microsoft Windows '95. They will say this hussy, allegedgly from the Phillipines, is just an office wrecker that wants to infect all your computer-connected friends, too. They have called your new love names such as "rogue" and even "worm."

Why, dear young hearts, is the world still so cynical about love? Since the dawn of life, no three words have ever invited more pleasure than "I love you" (with the exception of "The Three Stooges"). It is equally true, however, no three words have ever caused such emotional -- and now technological -- despair. In the timeless words of Mick Jagger, "love, it's a bad-word-that-starts-with-a-B."

No one plans on falling in love. There you are, just you and your IBM Aptiva in the privacy of your own basement, when you get an alluring e-mail that, for a change, is not some extravagant come-on. This e-mail just says "I Love You."

Don't we all need and crave love? Who among us are strong enough to ignore a message of love? Who in their right mind would open an e-mail that says, for example, "I have a sinus infection"?

For all its endearing qualities, love can be sneaky. Once you invite this new love into your life (by foolishly clicking on the file icon called LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs), your new love will begin to act strangely. Computer systems specialists and federal officials say it has ruthlessly jammed and crashed e-mail systems throughout the world.

Technically, this might be true.

But anyone with a romantic tick in the heart might also see another side to this new love. Maybe it's just scared and nervous. It finally got up the nerve to approach you and when you said yes, it, well, freaked. Who among us hasn't professed undying love only to suddenly get cold feet?

As with any love, your new love can get jealous. Without permission, it will borrow -- some say "hijack" -- your electronic address book. It just wants to know it's the only one in your life. If it finds names, it will pretend to be them while sending you an "I Love You" message. Since when is being coy so criminal?

Listen, it's your love life. If you want to commit to a costly and devastating relationship, just click that icon. If you believe that all it wants is to be loved and what's so wrong about that, then go for broke. Don't listen to all those experts who say that sometimes love is a horrible, hurtful lie.

They've just forgotten what it feels like to be in love.

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