Oh, technology! Is it my friend? I feel forsaken.
Recently I was out of town, working on the laptop I purchased a mere four months ago, when things turned sour. “Do you smell that?” a coworker asked. “It smells electrical,” I said and literally got down on my hands and knees to sniff around the power strip. We both got up and moved away from the table in search of the source of the odor when I realized my computer screen was black. I pushed the space bar thinking maybe it had timed out, only to realize the smell was emitting from the back of my PC. My computer was fried. My ability to work, dead in the water.
I was able to borrow a “spare” system and, having learned my lesson a few short months ago after my previous computer was stolen, had the majority of my work accessible “in the cloud” for which I am most grateful but in reality, do not clearly understand. I sent a missive to the local computer guru in town and was quickly directed to contact the manufacturer. The long story is I am now working on a “loaner” from this kind business owner and my computer is travelling across America for repair or replacement. It could be a couple of weeks and I am limping along, trying to find documents and programs as I work in what feels like outer space.
To add to my woes, my printer stopped functioning properly. It prints but it won’t feed, so the paper gets jammed up. It is quite frustrating and really testing my ability to get things done.
When I complained to my friends (and anyone who would listen), a surprising number of people gave me feedback that went something along the lines of, “Well, you know six of the planets are aligned in retrograde and we are close to Gemini moving into Pluto and Saturn is coming close to Uranus and when Jupiter aligns with Mars and enters Gemini, it’s no wonder you are having to do everything twice!” (This is not a direct or accurate quote.)
I won’t pretend to understand it but I do believe the energy on the planets and the courses of the moon affect us. Just ask anyone in law enforcement or those who work in emergency rooms – that full moon does something to the population.
While I am not convinced the planetary alignments are the cause of my technology woes, I do know my dependence on technology is alarming. Our world runs on the web! We are all incredibly dependent and at the mercy of electronic communication networks. It’s frightening and it all happened so quickly, many of us struggle to keep up.
It has not been all that long ago that systems changed from manual to cyber and there is no way to go back. I was working at IBM in Endicott, New York, in 1970’s when a desktop typewriter stored everything typed and allowed the operator to recall and revise previously typed material was released. It was magic beyond my scope of understanding! It was quickly followed by the Selectric, with little balls that could be used to change fonts and automatic correcting tape to fix errors. A secretary’s dream come true. How could it get any better than that?
I also grew up with manual bookkeeping where we used large ledgers and hand wrote all transactions, balancing debits and credits using our math skills and 10-key systems.
I worked in a grocery store where we punched in the amounts of products into registers and counted change back, which we calculated in our heads!
I realize I sound ancient. I wasn’t quite chiseling rock before these marvels came into being but given the lightning speed in which the way we work has changed; maybe I am ancient.
Suffering through two computer losses in just a few months has illuminated my dependency on what was supposed to help us work smarter and not harder. Remember the idea of a paperless society? Remember how we were supposed to be able to work less since the systems were so efficient? We’d all be able to complete daily tasks in minutes instead of hours with nothing but free time on our hands! Remember how our quality of life was going to improve immensely? What happened?
We work and we work. We never really complete our tasks, as they pile up higher and higher. I find myself responding to emails (from my phone) at all hours and all days of the week. It is incredibly difficult for me to unplug.
Last weekend I went to see a comedian perform in Sacramento with a group of friends. Our phones, which held our tickets were scanned, and then, along with our “smart” watches were placed in a pouch that was magnetically sealed and we were not able to retrieve the devices from the pouch until we left the venue.
For nearly two hours I was without the ability to connect with the outside world. I did not know what time it was. I was incredibly uncomfortable! What if there was an emergency? What if my husband or children needed to get in touch with me? What if?
I am here to admit to my addiction to technology. I am almost never without my phone. I use my debit and credit cards to track my spending. I wear a device that tracks my activities and calories. I will never be lost, as I use GPS navigation wherever I go.
It didn’t take long for me to transition from manual to cyber systems. The big question is what happens when the system fails?
I don’t have the answer, but as long as the world wide web keeps turning, and the planets continue in their orbit, and that nice manufacturer sends back my laptop in working order, I will be fine. Afterall, as that song from the 70s running through my brain reminds me, “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius….” And technology, is my friend.