When my children were younger, my family went through a time of serious Trekkiness. Each night, we'd curl up together on the couch and watch a rerun of "Star Trek: The Next Generation.” That's the "Star Trek” show in which the elegant Capt. Picard would, in his rich, Shakespearean baritone, command his crew to "Make it so.” No matter how daunting the task, Picard's space-alien-butt-kicking crew would comply, and the galaxy would be safe for another day. When the show was over, I'd send my own crew out with the more humble mission of getting ready for bed with the same command, delivered in a phony English accent. "Make it so,” I'd say as I sent them to their rooms. One of our favorite series of "Star Trek” episodes involved the Borg, a race of aggressive, technologically enhanced beings — part human and part machine — which had a collective consciousness. They were not individuals, and they didn't want to be. When one was cut off from the Collective, the first thing the poor drone would notice would be its own loneliness. Essentially, the Borg was one giant, souped-up teenager, except that it didn't slam doors or wear low-slung pants that showed its many pairs of underwear. What the Borg did was ruthlessly assimilate all other life forms into its Collective — just like a teenager. "Resistance is futile,” the Borg would intone without mercy to all its victims. "Resistance is futile,” I'd intone without mercy each time one of my children tried to avoid going to bed. For days after a Borg episode had aired, my children would take on its robotic personality, and an assimilation battle would rage throughout the house. This usually involved one or more Borg beings (formerly known as people to whom I'd given birth) sitting on a carbon-based life form (a human, for you non-Trekkies) also birthed by me, who was resisting assimilation. The attack would continue until the squashed life form screamed "I am Borg!” and finally succumbed to the Borg identity. Ah, those were good times. Eventually, our "Trek” phase passed, and the Borg went away where no man has gone before. Or so I thought until recently, when I realized that the Borg have secretly stayed among us for quite some time, in the form of the Internet. We are all becoming part of the cyberspace collective, willingly shedding our individuality to become one with the great external mind. Our children play virtual games, with virtual friends, in virtual rooms where everyone can be anonymous, but no one is autonomous. And we adults are just as bad. My husband and I make our living by way of the Web. And we carry it with us at all times. Sometimes, I'm not sure my mate knows where he ends and his Crackberry (Blackberry) begins. And I'm not really one to talk. I've developed a serious addiction to Googling myself, just to see how many times my name comes up. I am an online organism, and I like it. My daughter saved up her money to buy a computer game that allows her to "bake” an online cake. She can select different frostings and decorations. She can whip up a comely confection with the click of a mouse. And she can share her cake with other online bakers. Even though there's no taste, no reality, no cold glass of milk to wash down this lifeless computer cake, she's devoted to the game. When I asked her the other day to help me make a real cake, she answered impatiently, "Mom, I'm busy right now. I'm baking.” It's as if there's a metaphorical, Borg-like Bill Gates (who seems to bear a passing resemblance to that "Star Trek” entity) sitting atop us all, squashing out the stuff that makes us human until we surrender and are assimilated into the information superhighway. Or maybe it's Al Gore up there, since he invented the Internet. Either way, I'm pretty sure that resistance is futile. We are Borg. Syndicated columnist Jackie Papandrew is a Bartlesville native and a University of Oklahoma graduate. Her Web site is online at www.jackiepapandrew.com.