I type happily away on my computer, writing my current novel, engrossed in a scene of drama, betrayal, fear, doubt, and growing tension — all ready to swallow my character up in a maw of darkness, or give way in a moment of light. The climax approaches — the stakes are beyond the stratosphere — he’s giving in — he’s — he’s —
Then suddenly the vision is lost, and my eyes are filled with a large gray box with blue borders reading, “Your computer may be in danger! An update is ready for McDonald anti-virus protection. Would you like to receive updates now?”
Underneath are three options:
Remind Me Later
Never Remind Me
I don’t want to receive updates! For one thing, it will take seven hours and twenty-three minutes for the thing to download, and then it will have to restart my computer, and then I will constantly be receiving notifications about DANGEROUS sites and programs that I already trust completely. For another thing, my internet is turned off right now, so I couldn’t receive them even if I wanted to.
I really would rather not be reminded later either. I don’t want the updates, and the box always manages to pop up at the most inopportune times. Why do they think it’s a good idea to remind me later anyway? “Oh, right! Updates! Thank goodness you reminded me, I had forgotten all about that!”
In a bold moment, I allow my cursor to hover over the Never Remind Me button. This cycle has been going on for months! Every week, the box pops up at me! It’s time to end my misery with one courageous click! Time to step out in the faith that I will NEVER want to receive updates, and breathe the free, sweet air unfettered by weekly reminders that I neither want nor need — I must end my bondage!
But in the moment of decision, I shrink yet again, hating myself for my cowardice. It’s just this: that word “never.” If it said “Don’t remind me for a really long time” or “Give me a break from reminders for about three months” I would do it in a heartbeat. But “never”? Um… that’s an awfully long time. What if I want updates someday? How will I ever remember that my computer might be in DANGER without being reminded? Will the fatal click doom me to a future of a computer so laced with viruses that I cry in agony, “Why didn’t I receive updates when I had the chance? Curse the day in which I determined to never be reminded!”
This vision, be it prophetic or pathetic, stops me every time. Never… that’s just not wise. After all you never can tell when you might decide you do need those updates.
Cowed into submission once again, I meekly click the safest option, just as I have done week after week after week after week.
Remind Me Later.
Image by xkcd comics. This post was published on The Pennington Point several years ago, but I thought I”d recycle it here.