Electronic satisfaction by Keanu
by Lorraine Goods
Ahh, autumn. Hot cider and Halloween; leaves turning colors and everyone running around campus looking all fresh and busy.
Or so I'm told. I wouldn't know anything about it. I'm way too busy with my eyeballs stuck in the computer, salivating at those four beautiful words that appear on my screen every time I log into my cunix account: "You have new mail."
This fall, something is much more important to me than crispy beginnings: three Keanu Reeves movies are being released on video in November. I learned this from the on-line mailing list entitled "Keanu-L" to which I recently subscribed. Basically, this means that every day I'm bombarded with 10 to 30 electronic mail messages from people all over the world who have one thing in common: they all love the actor Keanu Reeves.
By joining Keanu-L, I was fulfilling an assignment for my cyberspace reporting class - honest. With the help of the cutting edge in computer technology, I am poised to cover the brave new world of the Internet, using that worldwide network as both a valuable reporting tool and a medium to deliver news. Or something like that. I'll be employable anywhere, they tell me. So when my instructor said "get thee to a mailing list" I certainly did. I'd had quite enough of Haiti and health care, thank you, so I joined Keanu-L instead.
I've been learning a lot.
I learn the day-to-day whereabouts of our hero and where to download his image from remote host computers onto my Macintosh computer at home. I learn the most intimate Keanu fantasies (the name Keanu means "cool breeze over the mountain" in Hawaiian) of the 128 other people who are members of this list: mostly straight women and gay men with college degrees, access to computers, and (presumably) lots of free time. "I had the weirdest dream about Keanu last night ..." begins many a message. A surprising number of the women are in their thirties, and their boyfriends are forming a support group for people who love people who love Keanu. They list their favorite scenes from their favorite movies, and they flame the occasional interloper who dares to suggest that Reeves may not be the world's greatest actor. (But he is getting better, a few do concede.) I must admit I've been unwittingly sucked into the garden of Keanadu, as these fanatics affectionately call their little world.
Quite simply, I like getting email. By being a member of Keanu-L, I get mail all the time. It may be worthless information, but it makes me feel popular. It keeps me from studying. Plus, it's a fast, efficient way of communicating. Some of my fellow graduate students send me mail too, but their messages are boring and when they're not asking me things like how to upload this or that or where to find such and such file, they're sending me transcripts of Governor Cuomo's most recent speeches. The folks on Keanu-L discuss more interesting matters, such as whether Keanu was doing drugs with River Phoenix on the set of "My Own Private Idaho," or if it's true that he wants to have David Geffen's lovechild.
But surely this couldn't have been what the administration was aiming for when they decided to invest all that time and money into getting the Columbia community on-line, with this year's incoming freshman class the first ever required to have basic e-mail accounts. Surely this wasn't in the journalism school's vision when it transferred most of its library collection to Lehman and installed 16 shiny new X-terminals in its place.
No matter what their intent, I just give thanks that I'm lucky enough to be here at Columbia where I have the opportunity to learn all these great new things. I like being wired. And so do plenty of other students I see when I walk by the ClioPlus terminals near the circulation desk in Butler Library. They're not seeking the whereabouts of that elusive dissertation on the constructs of paradigms in Arthurian romance; when you hear those keyboards clicking away, that's the sound of e-mail talking.