No. I really don’t mean that.
the personal computer
Computers have become like women. Absolutely essential, high maintenance and utterly impossible to understand. Today I intended to get some writing done. I was just planning a quick survey of email before I started and then everything got complicated.. My computer told me that something needed updating. Did I want to continue? You know how that goes. You can’t win. If you update, you have no idea how long it will take and what may actually be required. If you decide to pass, you get annoying reminders and sometimes the computer will go ahead anyway at a time even less convenient. I decided to go ahead. From there on it was hurry up and wait while it checked for viruses and other mischief. Meanwhile no writing happened.
So much for my plan!
My plan for the day was simple. I got up early, inspired to write. I had a few ideas competing in my head while I showered and had breakfast. I got to the computer at 7:00, inspired and ready to rumble. By the time the update was finished it is 9:00. My computer is once more behaving but the muse is dead- or at least on vacation. I don’t remember what was in my head. It wasn’t my fault. It was all because of a silly computer. These days we are completely depended on the darn things.
Where did it all go wrong?
How did we get to this state of affairs? What made us so dependent on an electronic assistant? It is so unnatural and for a guy that completed his education before anybody even invented a personal computer, so unexpected.
I grew up before computers took over life. I used pen and paper to compose my school work all though school. In those days I could write anywhere. I just needed a pen, some paper and a flat surface. Writing was valued and it was important that your writing was legible. People wrote letters to friends and family and mailed them. You used to actually like getting mail because there might be a letter. Letters were considered literature. Not any more. Now all you get is email and test messages. Who looks forward to them?
It all started at work.
Remember the typing pool?
When computers started invading the workplace, it was quite an adjustment for me. My brain got stuck when I fingered a keyboard. It only worked when I had pen and paper. Some folks learned to dictate memos and the like but I never mastered the organization it required. Unless your brain had it worked out from the start, your document was fatally flawed. I had to write.
Then they put a computer on my desk and told me to use it like a typewriter. Happily, the computer was nothing like a typewritier. I spent six months of my Army career typing Morning Reports for Bravo Company at Fort Leanoard Wood. Typing Morning Reports meant multiple carbons and only 3 errors per report. (Errors could be crossed out and corrected but if you made too many you had to start again.) Typing was torture and an endless task until I discovered corrasable typing paper.
Typing morphed into word processing.
I learned to love word processing because it let you fix errors before ever producing a document. It took some time to master the brain connection however so that I could actually compose at the keyboard. My brain still required a pen in hand to operate. It went blank when I sat at the computer. At ifrst I would write out a draft and then type it just like I used to type my college papers. Over time, however, my brain made a new connecting and I could think and type at the same time.
Then the computer came home.
Then came the idea that everyone needed a personal computer and here we are. These days it seems that everything I do depends on my computer. It’s where I make notes, store documents and organize my activities. Now that I am absolutely dependent on a computer for almost everything I do, I approach each day with trepidation. I am completely at the mercy of my computer and I don’t have a clue what to do when it gets tempermental or balks. I’d love to say goodby and good riddence to my computer but I’m afraid it’s too late. Without my computer I’m helpless.
TabletPC2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don’t know that everyone is as frustrated and torn about computers. Maybe you love them or just tolerate them. What’s your computer story?