WOW! What an intense, exhausting, low, high, information-packed, question-filled, engaging, wonderful, and rewarding couple of weeks! (Enough adjectives there for you?) Much of this post’s psychology culminated in the death of my computer on Wednesday morning, February 11th. May it rest in peace, amen.
To say that I was stressed out is an understatement– maybe something more like undone, or deer in the headlights is more like it. I was reeling. I didn’t know how I was going to manage the work load I had assigned myself by taking on this blog full-time, and I certainly didn’t have the slightest idea as to how to fix the problem. Plus, what the problem was– virus, malware, spyware, cookies, or my computer is just OLD– is best reserved for Best Buy’s Geek Squad to uncover, I’m sure.
Now I am going to give you the end of this story before you travel any of the roads I wandered this past week. I just hope you’ll stick around after the reveal to hear more of my tale. But I’m going to blatantly blow chronology, narrative hooks, and storytelling allusion to the wind and show you my new technological wonder tool!
Moving on to the meat. The next portion of this post is a post within a post, it is a story in and of itself:
FIX YOUR WIDGETS: I FOUND YOU
So here I am, sitting in front of a giant iMac doing the only thing I really know how to do on a computer– WRITE. And the reality is, folks, that at this point in the game, all that this beautiful tool means to me is MORE– more questions, more searching, more learning, and more really late nights. Mostly that’s a good thing.
I discussed in my VERY FIRST POST how LOW my technology IQ is, and let me tell you the last few weeks have reinforced that time and time and time again. Originally I thought this post would be great place to give some feedback or technology tips to folks challenged by ignorance, inexperience, naivety, and overall abysmal technology skills– like me!– you know, from a non-expert perspective. Until I realized… I didn’t have any tips to give. SHOCKING.
I have no mind-blowing keys to unlock technological learning. I have had some good advice from family and friends on this front: 1) take a class online, in person, or even at your local community college 2) cuddle up to a more technologically advanced partner, yes, this may even mean dating a robot 3) or do what I did and just start a blog on the fly and spend every waking minute trying to figure out what you are doing (and write your version of this post, I’ll get to that later). It’s you and Google, baby. Just go for it!!
Computer dead, three more posts to schedule, 30 or so pictures to edit, and a host of widgets to fix and figure out is where I found myself last Wednesday afternoon. I knew that I would be able to use my husband’s computer when he finished his work-day, but until then I was a sitting duck (and I shied away from using my phone for edits as I had already royally messed up some formatting on previous posts through that platform). It was here, in this limbo, in this computer-less space, this afraid-of-my-phone-edits moment I began to think about my personal interface with technology over the years. I began to write my brief personal history of technology.
I traced back. A child of the early eighties. Raised on Sesame Street, Punky Brewster, and eventually old enough to watch Nick at Nite in my Grandparent’s basement on hot sumer days. I was one of those students in classrooms across the country sitting on the industrial orange carpet of my Kindergarten classroom floor watching live as the Challenger exploded– so many misunderstood pieces.
A moment sealed in memory because of the ubiquity of television technology. I don’t know how technologically advanced my rural elementary school was compared to the rest of the world in the late 80’s early 90’s. However, you can bet that I remember munching fractions with an antennaed space monster, playing Oregon Trail MS-DOS style when Mary broke her arm as wolves circled my pixelated wagon. Oh my!
I remember when my school went Apple, and those enormous tan computers with their tall tower-like hard drives were traded in for the super sleek Apple IIe. There was the first time I entered a chat room. I’m guessing somewhere around 1995? Right? Such a novel memory in my head, and not nearly as momentous as it probably felt for those Stanford brainiacs who connected us all. Then there was the purchase of my first computer in college. I distinctly remember two things, the fact that I called my little brother to come help me because I felt as clueless as I did the day I set out blogging, and the pitch of the Best Buy Sales Geek who said, “You’ll love this computer the wide-screen bright-screen monitor is just… sexy.”
Sexy. That was the word that sold me on my first computer. Sexy. Yes, I bought my first computer on the premise that it was HOT. Not because it had large memory storage capacities, not because it had superior photo-editing software, not because it was anything but supposedly good looking. And truthfully, I did think it was sexy to walk around campus with my computer bag and pull it out of the sleek neoprene case for class, and type away at my notes (that lasted about one week if I remember correctly).
The only thing I have ever needed a computer for was to transfer my pen inked notes, and letters, and papers into a mega-bited and technologically transferable source code, gibberish to me. I relied on all of the beautiful computer science minds that had come before me, the ones whose faces were lit up all night coding, and hacking, and building the infrastructure that we now enjoy as the internet. God bless!
As is inevitable with internals made of copper, lead, mercury, silicon, petroleum, that first computer had a lifespan— a time when it worked and a time when it died. Thankfully that first one had a long life that stretched into my master’s degree, and landed me in a quaint little apartment in Virginia, newly married, expecting our first baby, with only one need again– TO WRITE. Well, I should amend that statement slightly, all I needed my computer for was to write, to research, to email, and to listen to music.
I myself didn’t know how strongly I was tied to that indispensable companion, the personal computer. Until it died. I felt like I had lost a friend. This is not an exaggeration. Maybe I felt this even further. If felt like I had lost a piece of my self– my thoughts, my words, my music, my recipes, a part of me was gone. We replaced that first laptop (recovered all of its files), and my husband will tell you that when we brought #2 home and he named it D family PC I freaked out because I felt as though I wouldn’t have a space for ME.
Where was my interface in the virtual world going to live? Where was my online life to take place? I hadn’t known I carried that part of my persona until it was gone. Pushed out of technological space– my thoughts, my words, my work, my friend, my laptop– dead. (This dramatic perspective could also have been an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy, but it was real to me, nonetheless.) So we agreed that the new computer was mine, and I had scared him so badly with my mental breakdown that he barely touched the thing. “Stay away from Mommy’s computer!” He’d say to our little one, and he didn’t just mean because young children shouldn’t play with computers. He knew that I needed that computer to be mine.
Fast forward seven years, or so. Back to present reality. Here. Now. I’m not kidding. I made my final decision to blog, crossed the street to the (figurative) X, Begin Blogging Here, then insert over my head/underwater/overwhelmed analogy here. I eat, breath, sleep, and DREAM about this blog. As in two nights ago, I woke suddenly at 3:30 a.m. in the morning to a voice that sounded eerily like the ghost of Dickens’ Marley, “Fix your widgets! OooooOOoooOoooooo!!!” The voice was only in my dream, only in my head, obviously. But the voice was right. I did need to fix my widgets! I jumped out of bed, went to the office, turned on the computer, and set out to fix my widgets. To think that up until 10 days ago I had no idea what a widget is any more than a newborn knows it has hands, fingers, or eye balls. Now I was dreaming of widgets.
I am a luddite. Or I WAS a luddite up until a few weeks ago. I believe in the power of paper. I believe in the intimacy of a hand-written letter, and the glory of a printed book. I still keep a calendar in pen and ink, and here I was putting more of myself into the online-o-sphere than I could even wrap my head around. Why was this so all-consuming for me? Why were my widgets so important? Why were they haunting my dreams? In that instant it all came down to this: COMMUNITY.
I found/reached more of my community than I had ever imagined. I had blasted into the blogosphere, and I was conversing, and laughing, and hearing, and RECEIVING SO MUCH MORE! Of course, some of this might seem as though I was just happy to feed my ego– compliments, and kind words have flowed to me in many posts and pictures and grams. I thank you. But it was more than that, I was actually having conversations/”exchanging letters” with some of my friends and associates that I would never have had if I didn’t have a blog! That’s right, I said it. I found YOU!
What is your personal history of technology? Do you remember the first time you used a computer? What did it feel like to sign up for your own email account? Is your technological acuity high or low? Grab a piece of paper and write it down! 😉