Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris

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Last Updated on July 16, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 466

Sedaris’s father, Lou, is an IBM engineer who once dreamed of a wondrous future in which regular people would crowd around refrigerator-sized computers capable of doing their taxes, ordering groceries, and composing music—all from the comfort of their home. 

Unlike his father, Sedaris does not consider a computerized world to be a utopia, and while he acknowledges that computers do, in fact, seem to be the way of the future, he wishes that this future didn’t have to occur within his lifetime. Throughout high school and early college, Sedaris lived in what seemed to be a computerless world, and he notes that he was largely ignorant of their existence until the mid-1980s. He recalls how, seemingly overnight, the apartments of his graphic designer friends—which were once filled with scattered papers and the smell of adhesive—transformed as the tools of their trade became odorless, paperless computers.

Sedaris resents word processors, which, while fun to write on, don’t make the act of reading the finished product more enjoyable. In particular, he laments the rise of the “creepy” family newsletter “designed to like tabloids and annuals reports.” He compares the writers of these newsletters to people who are super excited about personal video cameras. In both cases, Sedaris feels that the people filming videos or writing newsletters are not nearly interesting enough to deserve access to these advanced forms of media.

Sedaris’s avoidance of technology leads some people to label him as a “technophobe.” This is not quite correct, however, because Sedaris does not fear computers: he simply hates them. He hates that long web addresses now lengthen already long commercials; he hates email, which he thinks is childish and pointless; he hates that computers have replaced the card catalogs in the New York Public Library; and he hates that computers have infiltrated popular culture, like action movies. Most of all, though, Sedaris hates how computers have made typewriters, his preferred writing tool, obsolete.

Sedaris likes to take his typewriter with him when he travels, an endeavor that is becoming increasingly difficult. While laptops are processed by airport security with ease, Sedaris’s clunky typewriter baffles the officials who examine it and tell him, “You should really be using a computer.” 

Sedaris is sorely disappointed when his own sister Amy finally gives in and purchases a laptop—“for email” only. Trying to convince him that computers can be fun, she shows Sedaris a video, sent to her by a friend, of a man lying naked on a carpeted floor, having his testicles stomped on by a woman in high heels. This video is a revelation for Sedaris, who finally understands his father’s wonder at the vast possibilities of technology. Engrossed, they press play and watch the video again.

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