How I Use the Internet, According to Nineties Action Movies

I’m sound asleep, when suddenly my computer monitor flashes and wakes me up. An illustration of a large envelope fills the screen—I’ve received a new e-mail, my first in weeks.

I click on the middle of the envelope and a note opens in size thirty-six font. It’s a top-secret assignment for me, a renegade ex-C.I.A. agent who can kick higher than anyone else in the agency.

“Looks like this old dog is heading back to the pound,” I growl, and close the e-mail by turning off my entire computer.


I pull up a digitized photo on the screen. Leaning in, I drag a bright-green box around a detail in the image, type rapidly for a full fifteen seconds, and then softly say, “Enhance.”

The screen zooms, pixelates, and then smooths. I click, type, and say “enhance” four more times, moving deeper and deeper into the background of the photo. The section of the image that had previously shown only a blurry gray wall now reveals a face in shockingly high resolution.

“I’ve hacked your face, you bastard,” I whisper. I click once and the image prints out on glossy photo paper.


I take a deep breath and put on a state-of-the-art helmet with wires coming out of it, and then two state-of-the-art gloves with wires coming out of them. After a faint whoosh, I see my body projected into a pixelated online warehouse filled with bright-green wireframe filing cabinets. In the distance a large sign reads “SECRET PLANS.”

But I’m too late—an ex-K.G.B. agent who is still fighting the Cold War was hiding behind the cabinets. He punches me in the jaw and laughs, digitally. The wireframe hallways shake with green static and I jolt back into reality. My nose is bleeding and my net-gloves are steaming.

Looks like Ivan wins this round. . . .


My extremely attractive hacking crew is famished, so I type “PIZZA.” A window pops up advertising Vinny’s Pizza Palace, and, despite being run by a man in his late seventies, the pizzeria’s Web page is intricately designed. I click on a huge red Pizza button three times, and an animation of Vinny appears, dancing a jig.

One of my co-hackers, who wears hockey shoulder pads when he uses the computer, cheers. “Tubular! The new guy hacked us some ’za!”


“Come on,” I mumble as bullets ricochet around me. “Come on . . .”

The Navy destroyer’s screen shows a bright-green loading bar ticking toward a hundred per cent. I’m running out of time, and the computer rumbles as it processes the file, roaring like an idling motorcycle engine, which is the sound of the Internet loading.

The file is gigantic, containing the complete financial records of every single man, woman, and child on planet Earth, which is why it’s an incomprehensibly large two gigabytes.

“Two gigas,” I say. “The biggest damn file ever put on the Net.”


A 3-D model of a city street rotates on the screen. Using a mouse that clicks as loud and forcefully as a large stapler, I select the block where I suspect the rogue eco-terrorist is hiding. The street fills with green blocky renderings of people, indistinguishable from one another, except that some of the renderings have large triangular boobs, a detail that is important for crime-fighting.

“And now I’ll just hack this mainframe and activate the scanner,” I say to the Joint Chiefs and President Will Clonton.

I click, and one of the green people flashes red. It’s the eco-terrorist, immediately identified—she’s red because she’s bad, and she’s a she, because of the triangular boobs.


I am murdered by a sinister computer program that uses the Internet to zap my head via a wireless telephone. Green lightning crackles and courses through my entire body, and I collapse with a sizzle on the ground, with no visible wounds.

“They’ve hacked me . . . to death,” are my dying words, or so they think. . . .


“The disk! No! He’s got the disk!”

I admire the CD, marked “$$$.FILE,” and smile. As a crooked ex-C.I.A. agent/computer expert who is still fighting the Cold War, I know that millions of dollars have been hacked onto this disk. And now that I have it I simply need to hack the disk on my home computer, and the money will be hacked into my checking account.

I laugh. Looks like this old dog can still pull off the perfect digi-crime. ♦

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