No Bros to Help Him Out


It's not easy to describe the smell of neglect and shame that hangs over your typical Asian Internet cafe.

Ten years ago, I knew the Internet cafes of South Korea pretty well. The obsession with gaming and socializing in the abstract sense was very much in evidence when I would use the cafes to do E-mail and look for deals on pre-recorded music (this is how I came to have an Amazon.com account that is my second oldest account, which is a Hotmail account that is pretty crusty and old). The gamers would sit there, determined and twitching, and not moving. They would stare, blankly, for hours.

And this was in an establishment where the computers were fairly average. Keyboards did a lot more clacking in those days. And the monitors were all the heavy CRTs that took up massive amounts of cubicle space. No flat screens. This was all set up in a crowded room lit by florescent lights. It makes my eyes water just to think about it.

The smell often made you want to get up and walk right out without logging off. Prices were cheap as hell, so it wouldn't have made much of a difference. I never needed more than twenty minutes or so in those places. To spend any more time than that in a place where the people are resigned to their fate was foolish. To this day, I can't sit for very long and work at a computer. It suggests the impending demise of the body and the soul, all at once.

This dead gamer needed a bromancing partner with him; someone who would get up and slap him and make him walk down to the store and get a juice can with actual grapes in it. That might have helped save him, but it wouldn't have kept him alive for much longer.