What Part of “Off” Don’t You Understand?

Graphic Joshua Barkman

Yes I’m sure. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.

I’m leaving the house. I want to turn my computer off. That’s why I clicked the stylized, half-eaten piece of fruit on the top-left corner of my screen and chose “Shut Down…” I should have known by the ellipsis that this was going to be a conversation.

I’ve got my winter jacket on, my scarf, my hat, where are my keys? Oh, here, good. Gym clothes, textbooks, cell phone… Oh, and I have to eject my iPod. Done. And now, shut down the computer. Okay, racing out the door. Glance back—what? The computer’s still on.

“Are you sure you would like to shut down your computer?” asks the popup.

“Yes” or “Cancel” are the options.

I trip back over my schoolbag and hunch over the desk. Did I leave something open and unsaved? Why is it questioning me!? Is something in the middle of being downloaded?

No. There is nothing open, nothing being downloaded. This computer is just getting off undermining my decisions.

When it asks if I’m sure, suddenly, I’m not sure. That’s the problem. I was sure and now I’m not. I was so sure I wanted to shut off this computer. It was like putting on shoes or locking the front door. It’s a morning rite of passage that just happens by reflex.

But now I have to think about it—reconsider shutting it down from various perspectives. Is this really the best thing to do right now? Is it?!

Maybe it has a fear that I will never turn it on again and that will be the end of it. I guess I could meet it halfway and put it on “Sleep.” But that lacks decisiveness. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to go down that road for a piece of electronics.

—Elysha del Giusto-Enos,
Fringe Arts Online Editor