My brief cyber-affair with Cutie

A couple engaged in oafish flirtation - `Hey, babe, wanna get 2gether & make sweet music?'

PERHAPS I could take this opportunity to point out that I shall not, after all, be supplying clients across the world with Viagra. Nor, in spite of what has been promised, will I be giving online consultations for sexual problems.

The commitment to a 24-hour delivery of full treatment was, I regret, something of a mistake. As for the many people who have responded to the offer, snarling up my computer with enraged responses ("No way man!" "I have your name and address and am instigating legal proceedings" "But I'm a woman!!!"), I can only apologise on behalf of the sick, sick person who last week invaded my sweet, virginal little computer to such disastrous effect.

I say this because, rather fashionably, I've just succumbed to a cyber- social disease and caught a rather nasty case of computer clap. How it happened remains a mystery. Like many an innocent before me, I had been lured through my screen into a strange, magical cyberland where human nature, freed of identity, nationality and gender, is as weird as it can be.

Maybe I took a turn into a murky byway (I'm a writer, for God's sake; it's my job). Anyway, somewhere "in the wild", I seem to have picked up an unpleasant virus.

The first sign that all was not well was when I was unable to get online because my password no longer worked. When I rang the server, I discovered there had been a problem with my bill involving extra charges and - the woman to whom I spoke seemed simultaneously disapproving and evasive - a "code violation" had been reported. I tried to go online once more with a new password. This time, my screen froze in horror at what it found.

I returned to the server. The nature of my code violation was established. I had incurred extra charges with an unauthorised mass mailing shot. Er, mass mailing shot? Yes, it seemed that my screen address had been used to send a Viagra ad to people around the world - 6,250 people, to be precise.

I had what they call a "Trojan horse" in my system. I needed to see the doc. There was, of course, a queue at the surgery, allowing me several hours of profound anxiety. In that machine was my life: records, notes, letters, not to mention 60,000 words of a half-completed masterpiece of contemporary fiction. Somehow, without my noticing, the computer had become an extension of my brain, and now an Alzheimer's-like bug was infecting it, wiping my life, transforming me overnight into a sleazy online Viagra salesman.

Of course, I know that, in the world of computers, different realities apply. My brother Philip, even more cybernetically virginal than me, had recently had a humiliating experience in a chat-room. A couple in the room had been engaged in the traditional, oafish flirtation - "Hey, babe, wanna get 2gether & make sweet music" one was asking - when Philip, attempting to enter into spirit of things, jokily typed in, "Can I watch?" Suddenly all hell broke loose. "Hit the decks, guys - we got a crazee on board," wrote one chatter, and seconds later poor Philip was ignominiously expelled from the room.

But this was different. Something horrible and hostile had attached itself to me from this fantasy world, had followed me back into my real life and was doing terrible things to it.

Later that day, guided by the doc, I went in search of my Trojan horse. Together, we stalked the thickets of technology until, after 45 thrilling, heart-stopping minutes, we found it. Its name was Cutie. Beside the famous, elegant-sounding super-virus Melissa, Cutie sounded a bit small-time and sluttish, and her Viagra mailing had petered out well short of 6,250 people. At least, unlike Melissa, she didn't target friends on my mailing list and send them pornography under my name.

We zapped her. Cutie is history. And now that I know that she has not after all destroyed a future winner of the Booker Prize, I find I am intrigued by the stories of virus-writers now appearing, post-Melissa, and somewhat encouraged that they exist.

As I understand it, a virus-writer's aim is to take on the absurdly overpaid computer tsars who dominate our lives. They live for intellectual challenge. They make no money from their little bugs.

Celebrity is anathema to them. It could be argued that, surrounded by consensus and conformity, they represent an impish spark of human bloody- mindedness in an age of depersonalised technology. They also serve to remind us of our gullible and dangerous over-dependence on the all too fallible machinery of artificial intelligence.

For that, at least, I'm grateful to Cutie.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy