Technology is an unpredictable beast sent to test us. I have been reminded of that so many times in the past month or two as I’ve summoned every iota of maturity and composure so as not to hurl something at my computer. Or my computer at something. It hasn’t been my computer’s fault but the fault of the various bits of software required to make it do stuff.
I will not hear a bad word against my laptop. I love it with an intensity that borders on unhealthy.
But with such love comes dependence. And when you’re heart is open that wide? You can get hurt. And angry when things go wrong. Often, it’s not even the computer’s fault. The computer is the messenger. It’s the fault of some piece of software or something in cyberspace that you don’t even understand ALL YOU KNOW IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS NOT WORKING AND THAT MAKES YOU VERY VERY VERY ANGRY.
And the worst part? Technology doesn’t care if you swear at it. Or hate it. Or scream at it in loud detail about how IT IS WRECKING YOUR WHOLE DAMN DAY AND POSSIBLY YOUR LIFE. Technology just gives you the middle finger and gets on with the business of messing with your mind.
Twice last week I lost 1300 word blog posts before I could publish them. Gone. Poof. Buh-bye.
Still, I was reminded of this post I wrote a little while ago….
There are so many reasons not to sit down at your computer after a few glasses of wine. I was reminded of this recently when, one Friday night after returning home from dinner with friends, I decided it was a terrific time to install a new operating system on my computer. I dimly recall someone saying “blah blah, back-up, something, blah” but it kind of wafted over my head and out the window. I had a shiny new disk and I wanted to use it. Common sense? Pah to that.
Anyway, next morning, I tried to log on. But my computer didn’t recognise my password. Deep breath. Maybe I typed it wrong. Nope. ‘OK’, I panicked. ‘Call the support line, ignore rising nausea and keep breathing’.
Disturbingly, the first thing the support person asked was: “Did you back-up your data?” Um, no. “Oh.” This was followed by a sickening silence during which I could hear him thinking “Terrific. Another idiot.” After talking me through a password reset – still nothing – his next question brought the nausea back. “How far are you from our
If there was such a thing as a computer ambulance, I would have called it at that moment, so freaked out was I at the
thought of losing every precious thing inside my laptop. My photos. My music. My home movies. My writing. My contacts. My emails. My calendar. My God……
I arrived at the support centre with my white laptop clutched to my chest and my complexion the same colour. My fellow customers shared a similar pallor. In fact, the queue resembled a conga line of people impersonating Edward Munch’s The Scream.
As I soon discovered, the sickest looking ones were those who, like me, weren’t backed up. A gay couple in front of me held onto each other for support as a beleaguered Tech Guy gave them the grim pronouncement. “I’m so sorry but there’s nothing we can do.” As they staggered off on the verge of tears, I nervously asked Tech Guy what had happened,
hoping they had a different, far worse problem than mine. “They spilt red wine on their laptop,” he shrugged. “Computers don’t like wine.” Phew. At least I’d only poured wine into myself and not my keyboard.
Still dumb but hopefully less fatal. “Your data appears to be here still but it’s unreachable because the upgrading software has corrupted your entire system.”
Gulp. A hostage situation. I imagined my treasured photos and documents held captive, gagged and blindfolded, while the evil corrupt software sealed all the exits and waved firearms menacingly. Tech Guy was all that stood between me and oblivion. I tried to look friendly so he would like me and rescue my life from inside the small white box.
“It’s going to take four days to remove your data, copy it, erase your entire system and re-install the operating system. That’ll be several hours of labour at $160 per hour and we can’t guarantee it will work.”
Sold! It’s amazing how several hundred dollars can suddenly seem like a bargain. Back home, I tried to log on to my husband’s computer and found myself locked out by child-proofing software which had co-incidentally become corrupted too. And then, dear reader, I lost it.
Road rage is not my thing. But technology rage? Oh yes. Put me in a in situation where technology inexplicably fails me and I morph into Naomi Campbell with a phone in her hand and a maid in her field of vision.
“I hate this bloody computer!” I rage often. “I’m going back to pen and bloody paper! At least THAT’S reliable!” Of course as soon as the problem is fixed, technology and I fall in love again. Ours is a tempestuous and possibly abusive relationship. I hold no power.
In every household, one person inevitably takes on the role of Home Helpdesk. I am not that person in my house. I am the opposite of that person. The first sign of this was when I stopped being able to turn on the TV. This is not my fault because somehow, the number of remote controls required to do this has jumped from one to four. I swear the
buggers are breeding while I’m asleep.
I am not entirely certain of the difference between a router and a modem. Or a hard drive and a hard disk. Or what AV has to do with watching a DVD. Nor do I care, frankly. I just want everything to work like magic please. PLEASE.
A few months ago I was on the phone to a computer support line having a melt-down. “Look Anton,” I told the guy, “I don’t even have the words to explain to you what the problem is. I mean, the thingy won’t open the other thing when I click on it and I keep getting this message about error something and what does that mean and LOOK, IT JUST DOESN’T
WORK AND WHY DOESN’T IT WORK ANTON? WHY?????”
Anton was very patient. Every so often, he’d say “could you hold for a moment Mia?” and I’d listen to the music for the thirty seconds it took him to bang his head on his desk and shout to the heavens “I’M NOT PAID ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH MORONS LIKE THIS!” before coming back on the line to say “OK Mia, let’s go through it again slowly….”
It’s not like I don’t try. And I’m not a ludite. But when I hit a brick wall in my understanding or when technology lets me down, I want to punch something.
Maybe I simply resent technology for making me so dependent on it. As one friend points out: “We now use our computers to do our jobs, to shop, to store our memories, to entertain us, to educate us, to communicate with each other and to create social networks and make new friends.”
That’s a lot of eggs in one basket. Especially if said basket is not – say it with me now – backed up. Grrrrr.
Since writing that post, I have become even more tech literate (not to mention that I now have a new computer WHICH IS BACKED UP oh, every 14 seconds). I can now do some basic code, use Photoshop to re-size images, Twitter…..there is barely an aspect of my life now that isn’t touched by technology. And I’m not nearly as intimidated by it as I used to be. In fact, I bloody love it.
But the frustration and the anger that still washes over me when something goes wrong? That’s the same.
UPDATE: clearly, by writing this post, I have displeased the technology Gods because NOW I CANNOT SEND OR RECEIVE ANY EMAILS.
Care you share your thoughts/stories and make me feel better while I try to find my happy place?
UPDATED UPDATE: I have sorted my email problem thanks to my lovely patient email server people. Breathing again. Happy place.
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