My computer suffers from fear of abandonment and has destroyed my peace of mind

I have to confess right off the bat that it is not my computer that suffers from fear of abandonment, but rather the myriad websites that I visit.

I noticed this last month and have no idea what took me so long to put the whole thing together — this fear of abandonment issue, that is.

I was reading my emails one evening and then I sent an email to my friend. It was nothing really, just a message to keep in touch. I typed in, “Dear Steve, I hope the summer is going well for you and that you are able to enjoy the warm weather.” It was a stupid sentiment given that Steve lives in Fort Lauderdale where you can’t tell the difference between summer, winter, spring, or fall, which pretty much covers all the seasons.

Then I typed a search word into my browser, moving on from my email. That’s when I got a notice informing me that maybe I should second-think my desire to leave the page. That’s not exactly what it said, but that was the gist of it.

My email didn’t want me to leave. I thought about this day and night. In fact, I lost sleep over it and I couldn’t work. I was depressed that I was hurting its feelings, so I decided to go online and buy myself something to allay the angst that had built up deep within me.

Buddhist meditation wasn’t good enough. This was real suffering; some sort of AI suffering, which is something Buddhism doesn’t account for. I once heard the Dalai Lama make a little joke about how your computer can ruin your sex life, but he never really got into how suffering is related to messages of abandonment, generated by your email program. So, no meditation for me.

Back to my attempts to ameliorate my suffering…
I shopped carefully for an hour or so before selecting two items: A blue pocketless shirt and pair of brown sandals. Then I decided maybe I should wait to see if this was a wise course of action, so I left my cart with the two items, planning to return some time soon when my head was a little clearer. Next, I went back to my email to see if it was still feeling down in the dumps over my callous abandonment of it, and that’s when a new email popped up from Mr. Macho Men’s Clothery and Appliances. I opened it right away and read a very earnest and conciliatory note expressing that Mr. Macho was sad that I had abandoned my cart. But he was nice enough to give me the benefit of the doubt, prompting me to agree that I hadn’t meant to. And, he offered me a 10% off coupon, which was especially enticing.

I felt terrible and clicked on the Mr. Macho link, which of course closed my email, which of course begged me not to leave just before I made a knee-jerk reaction and said goodbye with a single tap on my “return” key.

I tugged at my hair and rubbed my eyes and let out a big sad sigh. I got up and walked around my little office with my head hung low. I was suffering from shortness of breath. I needed air! I was between Iraq and a heart place, or however that expression goes. My email was having abandonment issues, and so was Mr. Macho. Now I was in a full-out anxiety attack, leading me to lay on the floor in a fetal position and trying to think of bunnies and yellow flowers.

An hour elapsed before I gathered my strength and went back to my computer. I found my two items in Mr. Macho’s cart, sitting right in the middle of the virtual aisle between the shoe section and the men’s clothing department. For good measure, I added a third item to my cart — a brown hat with an embroidery of a moose on it. Above the moose was the word “moose” in cursive writing. I personally didn’t see the need for the redundancy, but it was a nice hat.

I thought this might make up for all the problems I had caused. I quickly checked out with my shirt, sandals and moose hat, then went back to my email account to be sure my tracking information was forthcoming from Mr. Macho. And, yes, I got the confirmation I needed, but below the tracking number was a note by Mr. Macho saying that he had noticed that I had been looking at four other items and he didn’t know whether he should put them back on the rack or what. Was I being irresponsible? Look at the trouble I had caused Mr. Macho, having to clean up after me and empty my cart so the next fellow shopper could use it.

Some sort of bright idea
Three days went by without me checking my email. I was still having anxiety attacks over this. Who else had I been disappointing with my flippant behavior? I feared to know. And then I thought of a cool idea — I would hire someone on one of those sites where you can get a person from Thailand to work for $4 an hour. His name was Barry Henry, which probably wasn’t his real name. Anyway, Barry Henry found himself gainfully employed, reviewing all my emails and dealing with all the stressful messages like “Why did you leave me?” and that sort of thing.

This was working great for a good four weeks or so. Barry Henry, quite the efficient and industrious young man, even fixed the feedback loop to made sure my emails were no longer begging for me to stay. I was delighted. Until. I was delighted until Barry Henry started emailing me and telling me that after fixing all my issues he now had nothing to do and was afraid I might fire him and feed him to the wolves.



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