Lockwood’s Reference to Osama bin Laden’s Computer Files
In Patricia Lockwood’s most recent novel, NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS, she makes numerous references to memes and events that caused social media uproars. The basic premise of the book follows a woman known for her viral social media posts as she travels the world speaking to her fans. I believe the book is meant to demonstrate the overwhelming quantity and randomness of information available to us via the internet. To accomplish this, many sections of the book delve into random discussions that are unrelated to the plot. One of these sections brings up how the viral video “Charlie Bit My Finger” was found on Osama bin Laden’s personal computer.
Although it seems to be an aimless digression, the sheer absurdity of it caught my attention. I wondered if this really was a reference to a real event so I decided to investigate further. And with only a quick Google search I discovered that this was, in fact, real. In October of 2017, the CIA released a trove of files that Osama bin Laden had on his computer at the time of his death.
Lockwood says, “CIA Confirms ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ Was On One of Osama bin Laden’s Computers” (57) right after a section discussing the disappearance of one of the narrator’s internet friends. She simply wrote the name of an article. I think this sequence of events has the deeper meaning that the internet only pays attention to the things that are eye-catching. No one seemed to care about the disappearance of her friend, and the attention of social media users had drifted to this news story. The internet brings a constant stream of enticing information that can distract one from their real life.
The narrator of the book follows this article title with, “Also a file called assss.jpeg.”. This is a reference to bin Laden’s large pornography stash that was also found on his computer, but was not released by the CIA. It seems to me that the narrator is also hooked on this stream of eye-catching events in social media, and possibly used it to distract her from the disappearance of her friend. Whether the narrator intentionally did it or not, she neglected to discuss the details of her friend’s disappearance and how she felt about it, instead opting to tell the reader about the porn file found on bin Laden’s computer.
Osama bin Laden’s computer files serve as an eye-catching distraction from the more important events happening in the narrator’s life. It is so effective that, as a reader, I found myself distracted by it as well. I think the section is meant to show how the internet diverts people’s attention away from their real lives. The narrator has been caught in this phenomenon, and so she thinks about Osama bin Laden’s pornography instead of the sadness she feels from her friend’s disappearance.