By featured writer Jake Christie

My computer has a virus. It’s funny; you can take all the precautions in the world—using protection, watching which computers you hook up with, being extra-careful not to get e-drunk on too much e-Pabst and wake up next to that e-skank running Linux without a firewall—but eventually, something slips through. Unlike the real world, where a little guy “slipping through” can be fixed with antibiotics or a quick trip to a back-alley abortionist, things in the virtual world can get much more complicated.

The virus that’s made my computer its new home isn’t your garden-variety annoyance, one that creates a couple of lame pop-ups until you send Norton to smack the bitch down. No, I’ve run every anti-virus program and spybot-destroyer that I could find, and this virus isn’t going away. It’s a fighter. This virus is the Chuck Norris of adware. This virus once roundhouse kicked a kid in the face just for emailing an attachment of fake Chuck Norris facts about roundhouse kicks. It’s hard-fucking-core.

When an infection gets this bad, there’s only one choice: pull the plug. Euthanasia. It’s time for me to send my computer to a better place—namely, the exact same place it is now, but reformatted.

Social handicaps date all the way back to T-Rex, who couldn't reach the Late Cretaceous keyboard.

It’s not an easy decision to make, because reformatting my computer means I lose everything that I’ve put on it in the past three years. No more internet bookmarks. No more term papers that haven’t been read since or during their composition. No more pointless video clips of my friends and I smoking pot out of various homemade bongs. No more half-completed humor articles about fat sorority girls and the frat boys who love them. I can deal with all of that; I’ve made my peace.

The one devastating consequence that I’m not sure I can deal with is the loss of every away message I’ve ever saved on AIM.

Since I’ve gotten my computer, I’ve saved dozens of away messages for convenience or posterity. These soldiers have served me well. In an age when everyone is always online, it’s important to have an away message ready at any time for any occasion. After all, if we only put up away messages when we were away, we’d barely need them at all.

For their years of faithful service, these away messages have taken a special place in my heart. Before they go the way of the dodo, I’d like to take a moment to bid some of my favorites a fond farewell.

Goodbye… one-word away messages that I felt a need to save. If it weren’t for you, I’d have to spend precious seconds of my time typing “around,” “away,” or “brb”—time better spent checking other people’s away messages.

Goodbye… obscure quote from a relatively unknown website. I love you, but I don’t think you were as effective as I had hoped. I thought you were going to let people know that I am a man on the cutting edge of pop culture, a man who knows quality and untapped potential when he sees it. Who would have guessed that quoting obscure websites would just make people wonder what the hell I’m doing surfing the internet instead of getting a job?

Goodbye… quote about loneliness used to get attention and pity. You let the ladies know that I’m a sensitive guy cursed to sleep alone tonight by a cruel and unforgiving world. Or, you just confirmed their suspicions that I’m pathetic. Either way, Hugh Grant movies are pretty sweet, huh? Anybody?

Goodbye… saved snippet of IM conversation. You showed everyone that my buddies and I are clever and hilarious all the time. The fact that most of our actual conversations are just the words “yup” and “cool” repeated over and over again is nobody’s business.

Goodbye… message informing people that I am drunk/high. I hate to break it to you, but extensive research has revealed that nobody, in fact, cares.

Goodbye… message about sleeping. You’ve saved me the trouble of signing offline, and ensured that my buddies will know exactly what I am doing at all times, even if what I am doing is scratching my balls and dreaming about Scarlett Johansson feeding me cheesecake. Naked cheesecake.

Goodbye… song lyrics. Whenever I wanted to let people know how I was feeling but couldn’t be bothered to create a series of my own words telling them, you were there to help out. As an added bonus, I could always imagine that the people reading you were in fact listening to the very song you are from, at that very moment, a phenomenon causing them to simultaneously orgasm and release their bowels. Technology is amazing.

Goodbye… message that seems to be about hot sex, but is in fact about being in the shower. I once thought you were clever, but now I realize that I hate you.

All these away messages have meant something to me at one time or another, and it makes me sad to see them go. Saying goodbye is never easy. Please, take a moment today to think about your own away messages. They love you, unconditionally, and serve a noble purpose…because if it weren’t for your away messages, you might actually have to talk to somebody.

Jake Christie is away from his computer right now.