Signing Off (a YA short story)

It was not long after watching Miley Cyrus twerk that I decided to give up electronic communication and the internet altogether.

I wouldn’t bother reading anything into this sequence of events, except perhaps: something about her gyrating privates said to me, “Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, it’s all gotta go.”

Mom and Dad loved the idea, of course.

“Oh hon, that’s a wonderful idea,” my mom said.

“Its like you’re Thoreau, heading out to Walden for the first time,” offered my dad.

I didn’t know who Thoreau was but I was pretty sure he was some super famous dead writer, since my dad’s always dropping the names of famous scribes ever since he stopped writing and started working advertising for Nike.

My mother asked me to carry around my iPhone “just in case.”

“Just in case of what?”

“In case you get into an emergency situation.”

“Honey I think that would defeat the purpose of what our daughter is trying to do.”

“And what’s that Frank?”

“She’s reaching back into the past, untethering herself from all the gadgets and gizmos we’re all dragging around with us, she’s taking the metaphorical long way, as it were.”

My mom rolled her eyes.

“Exactly dad,” I assured him.

At school, there were mixed reactions to my decision.

Lindsay, my best friend, struggled to understand the particulars.

“But can we still talk over Halo?”

(Halo, for the XBox had a built-in microphone function, and Lindsay and I had a lot of meaty exchanges while we rained down machine gun fire on our weaksauce competitors.)

I had to think about that one, honestly.

“Yeah we can’t talk on that either.”

“So basically we’re not ever gonna talk again.”

“Um, we can talk like we’re talking right now,” I said.

“I hate talking like we’re talking right now.”

“Lindsay, I love you. Actually, I think I’ll miss your facebook posts the most.”

I wasn’t joking.

Earlier that day, a few days after New Year’s Day, she’d posted: “We should skip a hundred years next year, and call “2015” “3015,” just to screw with historians in the future.”

My boyfriend Harris seemed to take the news okay at first.

“Cool. Cool,” he said.

Then again, that’s pretty much the only thing he says to me ever.

A few weeks later when I missed his birthday after I had not seen the facebook invite, he didn’t seem to like the idea as much.

The only person who wasn’t suffering it seemed was my Nanna.

She and I were exchanging these really long notes with each other.

It was like having a pen pal but she was, you know, my Nanna.

I also began keeping a journal.

The first time I knew there was something to this writing thing was the day I found myself writing about tennis.

I have been playing competive tennis since I was 9. When I play tennis, I become a different person. Let’s call her the Beast. The Beast makes me throw my racquet after double faulting twice in a row. The beast makes me curse out my mother when she’s trying to console me during a changeover in the midst of a match.

It never occurred to me that tennis might not be the best recreational option for me. I had been playing so long I couldn’t imagine not playing.

In the midst of a journal entry about a junior high tennis match I had squandered away after a one set lead, I began writing down all the things I disliked about tennis and all of the things I liked. When the dislike column had 13 things and the like one tallied a big fat zero, I realized something was wrong. It sounds so stupid, but it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have to keep playing tennis until I wrote it down on the page. “I don’t want to play tennis anymore.”

One week after I penned that, I quit tennis, and took up field hockey instead. I haven’t heard from the beast ever since.

After about a month off the internet, I started realizing the sort of disadvantage I was putting myself during school. My teacher assigned us an assignment where we had to write a report on one animal that went extinct in the last ten years. I searched the library stacks high and low but couldn’t find a single animal to write about. The most recent animal I found in a book was something called the javan tiger, but those died out more than thirty years ago.

Three weeks later, Ms. Reid told us we were to make our own websites in social studies. I raised my hand, and explained to her about my situation. She was understanding, but said I’d have to make an exception for this assignment.

That was truly the beginning of the end. Not 10 minutes after I signed up for a website, I found myself checking my own facebook page for the first time in two months.

I had a little red reminder in the right hand corner informing me of some recent activity on my page.

I clicked my facebook profile, and saw that Lindsay had written a message on my wall.

“Welcome back Thoreau. How was the pond?”

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5 thoughts on “Signing Off (a YA short story)

  1. Miranda Stone says:

    I love the voice you’ve given your main character here, Ian! Really well done. On a personal note, I am incredibly thankful I didn’t grow up in the age of social media. I can imagine it would be very difficult for someone like your MC to make this kind of resolution. I liked how she realized the benefit of keeping a journal in order to understand herself better and made some positive changes in her life during the two months offline.

  2. I really like your protagonist. Despite all the odds (and they were stacked high for a girl her age) she stuck to her decision until she couldn’t. This really does go on to say how much we depend on technology these days. But it’s not always such a bad thing, is it?

    • yeah that’s what I was saying, I thought it would be interesting to see what happened when a young person took up the idea and actually even more interesting for young people to read about a young person taking up the idea

      though I think my story/me lost some steam in the second half (pity, I was having so much fun writing the first half!)

      thanks for the comment. I am a fiend for sci fi. so I’m looking forward to diving into your stories.

      • Yup, it would be a great social experiment. I didn’t have internet in my home computer for the past two days, and I was already freaking out even though I could access everything on my phone.

        I thought the story reached a pretty convincing solution, don’t be too hard on yourself :). And I hope you enjoy my stories.

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