We walked back from the Charles river, our impending romantic relationship apparent through occasional brushing of our hands. The boy had already lost track of the names of the people in my life I had introduced to him through my stories that night. There are too many people in your life, he complained. The aww-inducing thought underlying that complaint came right after: how do I know where I lie in your life?
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am an obsessive categoriser. It is only natural then that all the people in my life are neatly divided into categories based on the roles they play in my life. The task then, was to now make these categories more concrete for the boy. As usual, Google had the answers.
Imagine my life were a story being written in real time on a Google doc, I told him. It’s a detailed narrative, filled with much details and anecdotes, the voice evolving as I grow.
This Google doc is publicly visible; my story, written with pseudonyms, is an open book. Anyone who wants to put the effort of looking up the url and opening it can read what is written in it.
Some people get commenting privileges for parts of this story. They can leave their thoughts, and I will look at it in my own time, and choose what I want to do with them, how much of those I take seriously. Some comments, obviously, are taken more seriously than the others.
Some people, the ones in my intimate circle, get editing privileges. They, each with their own voice, can make changes to my story, helping me make more coherent sense. These edits show up as suggestions, allowing me to keep the ones that make sense to me. This explains why my story can feel multi-hued at times, there are several eyes editing it with different linguistic aesthetics.
Someday, I hope to find someone who can write this story with me. That person will have edit without suggestions privileges, I tell him, blushing.
The boy never moved past commenting privileges, and slowly he stopped even viewing the document. However, the metaphor has stayed on; it’s helped me define roles and boundaries and made my life easy. I wrote to a friend recently complaining to her about an email feedback I received that had left me upset. Is this feedback a comment or an edit, she asked. One line, putting the distinction into perspective, putting the ownership of my Google doc back into my hands.
14th June, 2017