Cyberlimpiastination. You’ve never heard of it, but you’ve done it.
You’ve never heard of it because I just made it up. But I can’t be the only fool out here who succumbs to that seven-syllabled monster on a semi-regular basis.
This Spanglish beast has three parts. Taken separately, they’re innocent enough, like a Chihuahua. But combine the three and they’re death to your good name, like the Taco Bell Chihuahua. They are:
- cyber: of, or relating to, all the bright screens that give you insomnia. You knew that.
- limpia: from the Spanish limpiar, to clean. Maybe you knew that. Maybe you got it jackhammered into your ear as a child — ¡Limpia eso o te quedas sin PECSI!— or you learned it in school, like the YouTube girls who clean and sing Ayúdame.
- -stination: referring to procrastination, the insidious act of postponing or delaying or putting off or deferring or being slow or late in doing something, because you do not want to do it, even though you said you wanted to do it, and swore to yourself and La Virgen that that you would do it, only to try and squeeze it all into four hours on a Sunday while your husband and baby are out on a grudging mercy stroll to give you some time alone to sit down and effing do it.
All together now—Cyberlimpiastination: the art of procrastinating by cleaning up your digital life. You’re welcome.
Its analog origin, limpiastination, means to procrastinate by physically cleaning your house, as with brooms and mops and paper towels and extra-soft toothbrushes for the silver. At least you get a workout out of it. But the digital delay tactics keep you motionless, bound to a chair, eyes fixed on a screen as you change your email password, update your security questions, clear all embarrassing selfies from your phone, especially the ones you took in the bathroom at work, which, really?, how was that a good idea?, and perfect your 80s playlist because you googled Mellow Man Ace and Mentirosa was technically from the 90s, so it’s out.
You’ve been there. And so have I.
This morning I was all set to start writing. At 11:00 a.m., I had my browser open to a blank Google document and I was staring at it with intent. A stare that extracts Truth from the Void, like a juicer. In space. But I got nothing.
I needed to arrive at a revelation. A memory, something cheesy from my past that would make me go, ha!, and then ha! ha!, and then a thousand funny words would come gushing out of my fingers, like a river of cheese. But middle school made me allergic to cheese. I was born with the biggest forehead in all of Puerto Rico—kids would slap it and yell “queso!” and then run away laughing. Queso of course means cheese, but not in the smiley Kodak way. It was probably a Gouda reference, like I had a wheel of cheese on my head. In any case, not funny. Not writing about that. Also not writing about my recent C-section (hilarious!), my father’s obsession with ants (social animals!), the legion of stray cats my mother keeps feeding (¡ay, pobrecitos!), or that time I caught my little brother feeding Kraft singles to his E.T. doll because he thought it was a starving child from the Christian Children’s Fund. Eat cheese, phone home.
I opened a new browser tab and clicked over to Facebook, in case my oversharing timeline could offer some cues. My tía had posted a motivational JPEG: “AN UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING,” and I was like, thanks, Titi. Not right now.
I clicked back to the blank document, put my fingers firmly on the keyboard and typed…. my name. I have a long name. It’s really long, actually. Let’s examine that. It’s so long it doesn’t even fit in some pre-printed forms under Full Name. I have to squish my letters across the blank squares—so inelegant—trying not to go off into the margins. Thanks, form makers. Way to make me feel perpetually foreign. Same goes for you, internet builders: an accent mark is not a deal-breaker. How many times have I tried to set up an account only to be told, “Error: invalid character.” Invalid character? That’s some symbolic shade.
I clicked back to Facebook. A full hour had passed at that point, and I was stumped. I looked up at the right-hand corner of the screen, and that’s when I saw them: fifty-thousand Facebook alerts warning me that someone had tried to reset my password between 3:00 a.m and 5:00 a.m. Not an exaggeration. Fifty thousand. I counted them. That took a while.
So I had no choice but to put the writing thing on hold. You see that, right? This wasn’t your regular procrastination. This wasn’t like, oh, I really feel like playing Tetris for old-times sake. No. These cyber-insomniacs were on a MISSION and I had to change my password RIGHT NOW because this was AN ALL CAPS EMERGENCY.
I opened a third browser tab and Googled “What’s a strong password?” I had a feeling I could do better than Obama4Prez08!, which dated back to when LOL still passed for language. Google said: “Maybe you can find a sentence like The first house I ever lived in was 613 Fake Street. You can then turn that into a password,” and I was like goddammit, Google. Even a password reset demands I ponder my past? It was 12:45 p.m. and I realized I was starving, so I went to reheat a cheeseless pizza.
Being known as a quick eater in the face of grave peril, I came back an hour later and got back in the saddle. After many failed attempts, like The first house I ever lived in was 613 Fake Street, which is, a) not true, and b) probably not secure by now, I settled on WtFw45Hv4TiN?!, for Why the F* would 45% of Hispanics vote for Trump in Nevada?!, which is temporary, I hope. To God. By 2:15 p.m. I was changing my security questions, steering clear of Latino non-secrets like “What is your mother’s maiden name,” and going for true head-scratchers like “Who was your best friend in middle school” and “What is your greatest aspiration.” I didn’t enjoy it, but it had to be done. At least both answers were “None,” so they’d be easy to remember.
And so it went, on and on—a long, twisted path through the ever-multiplying security weeds. By the time I’d gone hardcore and moved on to Two-Step Verification, the apartment door swung open and I heard the distinctive song of my baby’s nap-deprived tantrum. It was operatic. My indulgent husband locked eyes with me: “How did the writing go?”
Riddled with guilt, I clicked back to the empty document. My four hours were up, and I had nothing to show for it. That’s when the word came to me, clear as a spotless, Windexed mirror: cyberlimpiastination.
Please tell me I’m not alone.
Image Credits: Benjamin Reay