Every once in a while, strange occurrences remind us of the Internet's fallibility. Remember Y2K, when the clock struck midnight at the start of the new millennium and the entire world was supposed to explode in great geysers of pus because we hadn't encoded data correctly? Didn't happen, but it sure scared the crap out of everybody. Or how about the numerous viruses that go around threatening the very sanctity of entire networks? While we have enough blind faith in technology to allow a presidential debate to be conducted over YouTube, we must never forget that the computer, like any robot, is capable of loving you, catering to your needs, then developing a mind of its own while you sleep and attempting to destroy you with its metallic cyber-jaws until you obliterate it with a hatchet — and even then it usually comes back as some sort of zombie computer trying to devour your brain. Your braaaaaaaaain! And unfortunately for you, Alex Emerson, you just came up against your next great cyber-challenge: Gmail.
For you see, Alex Emerson, I know another Alex Emerson. He lives in New York City. He and I went to the same college and probably drank somewhere between 50,000 and 250,000 beers together. We are dear friends and have kept in pretty decent touch since graduating. And my Alex Emerson also has a Gmail account, one quite similar to yours. So similar, in fact, that somehow the wires have gotten crossed and my Alex Emerson has unprecedented access to your information: passwords, inboxes, resumés, everything. Were he a more cruel little man, my Alex Emerson could probably find a way to crush you with this privileged information, but being a man of the media, he decided instead to ask his friend in Denver to communicate with you. And the message he wanted me to impart: Do right by the name Alex Emerson in this city; make that name proud.
My Alex Emerson was out here last October. He came with some other college friends for my housewarming party, to help me christen the place with the appropriate hellfire and brimstone. As he would probably say, he "ripped shit up," and he feels that he represented the good name Alex Emerson as best he could in this city, leaving everything he had on the field before he got back on that plane to JFK. And this is the difficult thing, Denver Alex Emerson: He doesn't think you're living up to the legacy he left behind.
"The whole thing makes me wonder," my Alex Emerson wrote in an e-mail. "For all us successful New Yorkers, are there lesser versions of ourselves living in lesser cities? (The aforementioned comment needs to be coupled with an evil laugh.)"
So, yes, my Alex Emerson is kind of a condescending prick, Denver Alex Emerson, but still, there are some things about you that come off as a little cheesy, like wanting to hang out with Jared Leto in your "About Me" section on MySpace. Come on, man, who writes that shit?
If I were you, Denver Alex Emerson, I would respond to this blind assault by saying fuck you, What's So Funny, and fuck you, New York Alex Emerson, I don't give a shit what either one of you think, now leave me the hell alone. That would be more than justified. But after I responded that way, Denver Alex Emerson, I would contact the people at Gmail and tell them to fix this bizarre mistake, like, yesterday. Because it's creepy that anyone would have such access to what is supposedly your "private" web world. And even creepier that that person would have a friend who is a humor columnist in the city where you live.
Welcome to the information superhighway, Denver Alex Emerson. Now check your MySpace inbox. You have Friend Requests from Mandy, Ryan and J-Dom.