I suspect I am the only woman in the world to be annoyed at Urban Dictionary for one of its streetwise, cool and hip-hop ‘definitions’. I mean – who writes this stuff? Oh, I see, we do – whoever we are. For the purposes of this post I googled ‘definition Unplugged’ thinking by now the word would have moved on – was likely to mean more than just Eric Clapton playing an acoustic guitar. Although of course there’s no ‘just’ about Eric Clapton.
And under Unplug I came across various definitions, ranging from the pedestrian (plug removed from computer) through the obscene and totally unrelated to the just plain wrong. I mean – Blue Pill. This at first sight appears to be a good analogy. I too have seen The Matrix films, in one of which Keanu Reeves has to make a choice between a Blue Pill and a Red Pill.
Except that it’s the wrong pill – because I’ve checked.
(I know – what sort of needs-to-get-out-more weirdo would check a thing like that?)
The Blue Pill is the one that will allow the classically-beautiful and splendidly high-cheekboned Keanu to remain plugged in to the Matrix, living a life of comforting, though fabricated, reality. The Red Pill is the one that will allow him to unplug from the Matrix. And the Red Pill is the one he chooses. (I don’t suppose this counts as ‘spoilers’ since there can be few people left who haven’t seen The Matrix – and those who haven’t by now are probably not going to bother.) He then discovers that all this time he has been lying in a liquid-filled chamber, his body heat and bioelectricity being consumed by the sentient machines that have enslaved humanity. And very queasy and unpleasant it is for him.
I am beginning to wonder whether words can be classified as a Special Interest or Obsession, in which case maybe I need to unplug myself from them rather than La Tour Abolie or the internet in general. It all depends what you mean by ‘unplug’. If you define it as to disconnect from the electricity supply – well, no computer. If you define it as to foreswear electronic devices of any sort – even if still fully charged – then that’s tablets and smartphones out the window.
I was actually forced to unplug, in this sense, a while back. My eyes had become abominably painful to the extent that half an hour of staring at a screen resulted in several days of lingering headache that no painkillers could make a dent in. I tried resting expensive coloured acetates over the screen. This did help a little but made everything look green, dented and slightly smeary. It was like computing underwater: all it lacked was fish.
Still the headaches. I took to wearing wrap-around dark glasses for driving and turning the house-lights down low of a night-time. I accidentally frightened a new neighbour who decided to be friendly by knocking on the back door at nine o’clock one evening. I invited her in, trying to disguise my lack of enthusiasm, but she peered into the gloom of my semi-detached interior and started to back away. I suppose she was thinking I’ve moved next door to Lady Dracula!
Eventually I was forced back to writing by hand like authors used to do – in actual pencil on actual file paper. Prehistoric! But it turned out to be a pleasant change. It was a bit laborious, but do-able. Subsequently I would type up and post what I had written in one quick burst. Sometime after that, over the course of a month or six weeks, the eyes sorted themselves out, more or less. I won’t go into the details.
But do you mean, by unplugged – just not writing at all? Just not connecting with words, just not spilling it all out in words, just not quibbling over words, obsessing about words, wondering about words?
Maybe I could.
Maybe I couldn’t.
Blue Pill or Red Pill?
Maybe it’ll never come down to that.