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Lost and Found

Lost and Found



an open letter


Dear America,

I am writing to you in the hopes that you can post this notice in your lost and found section. You see, I seem to have lost my identity.

To be quite honest, I'm not sure as to when I can last remember being in possession of it, although I'm pretty sure that at one time or other I was. I try to think back to the last place I had it, the last time I remember using it, which is what I generally do when I feel I've misplaced something, but this approach has been to no avail.

In fact, I'm not really sure if ``lost" is the correct word. It could be that it was mistakenly taken, that maybe someone just walked off with it, thinking it was theirs. I'm just not sure. This must sound terribly confusing, and I can understand. As you can probably guess, I'm a little bit shaken by the whole affair myself. Let me see if I can explain.

First of all, I am sure that I don't have it anymore. I realized this just recently, when I thought about the ways that I'm portrayed in the mainstream American media, or about the responses people give when I say that I study Computer Science. You see, the image I see on the news which is claimed to be me, well, it really isn't. The same is true with what people say about me. When I saw this, I realized that there was a problem, that I was no longer in possession of my own identity.

You can imagine my surprise.

Here all along I thought I was a scientist. I thought I was a philosopher. I thought I was a mathematician, studying algorithms and their proofs in the grand tradition of Euclid and Gauss and, of course, al Khwarizimi. I could have sworn that this is what I do. And yet, from what I can gather from the reports, and from what people tell me about myself, that's not it at all.

It turns out that I'm a dot-com engineer. I was dumbfounded to learn this. Contrary to what I thought I was doing, I've actually been busy at work building something like "the new e-cyber-inter-web-world of tomorrow's technology of the present of the future." If you're unnerved by the fact that this phrase makes no sense to you, I can sympathize. After all, I'm apparently the one building it, and I don't even know what it is.

In addition to this, it seems that, when I'm not busy working on "tomorrow's technology today", I'm hard at work all through the night in a small windowless room drinking tons of coffee and pursuing my dream of becoming the next Bill Gates, the next boy genius Napster start up internet toting computer whiz from next door, set to jump with software I wrote in my garage and rise to the head of a new empire, where I singlehandedly and in bona fide multithreaded fashion strike the ladies dead with my client-server savvy while wooing banks and various monied interests into my den of Dungeons and Dragons posters and subculture chat rooms where I tech-talk them into forking over their green with the promise of the next great i.p.o.-Nasdaq corn-fed sensation while simultaneously plotting to break in to their mainframes so I can get from there to the State Department in a zany madcap wily hacker plan to appoint Mickey Mouse as the national security envoy to Pakistan. I had no idea I was so busy and industrious.

I'm tired just from reading about myself.

I have lost a hold of my identity. It seems that it is now owned by Microsoft and Ebay, by Time and Newsweek, by Dateline and Intel. I try to think back, wondering if maybe I sold it to them and subsequently forgot about it. I've searched my soul for some record of the transaction, of some outright bill of sale, and I can't seem to find one. I've been trying to recall any particular times when maybe some misunderstanding could have occurred and these kinds of companies became under the impression that they the were the owners of my identity.

Maybe it was no particular moment.

Maybe I just got complacent, got used to leaving my front door unlocked, to being non-confrontational, to backing down.

Maybe people realized that I was an easy target.

Maybe the word got out that I was starved for attention and admiration, that I'd take whatever I could get.

Maybe people started talking, saying that I'd trade my warm woolen rags for imitation leather.

Maybe the word on the street was that I'd sell my identity for some press.

Maybe I did.

It could even have been something else. Maybe it was when I took a fat check to build shoddy houses, to raise these rackety rusting digital ghettos, that I became associated with the companies that paid me to do it, my identity being absorbed in the process. If I take a moment to think about it, it makes sense, right?

If I help build a house for a tyrant, then I am complicit to the rise of tyranny.

But you know, I didn't know what I was doing at the time. I really didn't know it would turn out that way. Still, I know that doesn't change it. Not really. If that was the case, that I'm somehow a part of the forfeiture of my identity, then I can't really reclaim it straight away. Yup, if that was the case, then all I can do is just try and start learning from my mistakes, and hopefully earn back my identity. Okay, I'll have to think on that a little.

Maybe that's what happened to my identity. Maybe that's what I'll have to do. Actually, I guess I haven't lost my identity. I guess I just got lazy and didn't take care of it, allowed it to rust and decay, to be steadily scratched at by weeds and picked at by vultures.

Oh well. Sorry. My fault.

I apologize for sending you this letter in error. You can just imagine how embarrassed I must be. Here I am whining and sobbing and asking you if you've seen my identity, when all the while it was out there, right in front of me. Someone must have come upon it and taken it, seeing it in a state of disrepair and abandonment. They probably figured I had no need for it, that I wasn't really using it anymore, that they could have it. Turns out the problem was really pretty simple. Probably the solution is simple as well -- I should just stand up.

I should just stand up, and take back my identity.


A young computer scientist

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Created before October 2004

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