the weird intimacy of Google Docs
The weird intimacy of Google Docs is knowing the middle and last names of people in their email address.
These are things to find out in conversation or in time, instead
known instantly and freely in a profile picture, a typed sentence, a suggested deletion, all with people and never in person
Yet here I am, cursor hovering over your name, and it’s just nice to see it in print, that might be the curse of romanticizing paper.
I know that technology is supposed to be emotionless and cold. But if I use my laptop too long it becomes as warm as an open book left out in the sun. Maybe I’m reading too much into things,
but how can that be when the only thing is my name and your name next to each other on this PDF? I’m thinking about the way that our names are automatically shortened into the first letter and how I recognized you first by your character. Acronyms might be the best invention because they let more important things take up space. I’m thinking about all of the pages that must have been saved by decades of chopping words into digestible pieces--where do fallen pages go when they never got to grow? I’m thinking that’s why Google Docs feels like magic to me, it’s hard to define things when you can’t touch them and
challenge has a tendency to be enchanting.
The clutter of all these Google Docs doesn’t matter as soon as I turn the computer off. I almost wished it followed me off the screen, if only so I could see its shadow in the light, and typing sounds a lot like a heart racing and my friend would always tell me I typed too loud, like I could ever teach my fingers to unlearn the pressure or my heart to rewind the sound, both get annoying over time and I’m the only one hearing the two at once.
The funny familiarity of Google Docs is in how long I’ve been on Google Docs. Once, in a philosophy class, the teacher drew a graph of what all of our locations looked like in relation to being in our classroom. It was rippling waves, with each meeting point of those breathing lines being the fifty minutes we were sitting in those desks, facing forward. It looked like the ocean. But in Google Docs the points don’t have to meet, and that’s why being here right now working on this dumb study guide with you feels like being in the water, and we weren’t allowed to have a laptop out in that class.
The strange understanding of Google Docs is when we’re both on the same document at 2:33 am and there are too many options,
highlighting, underlining, bolding, italicizing, fonts,
as if changing the appearance of words could change their meaning; importance means nothing to a dictionary and
anyway, we’re here,
and whatever circumstances bringing us here are bleached paper white with 12 pt. font and I can’t unshare things once shared.
by Chloe Low
Chloe Low is a second year student at University of California, Irvine studying English and Literary Journalism. Chloe lives in Northern California and enjoys fresh fruit.