Falling into the technological void

Published 10:29 am Friday, April 18, 2014

On Tuesday, my heart skipped a beat. More accurately, several beats. I came home to find that I left my window open (for the free air conditioning).

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but for the fact that it was raining. Not just any rain, slanted terror rain with a lot of wind to allow it to get to places where it wouldn’t ordinarily reach. And what was sitting directly under the window? My laptop. Even though it was cold, sweat appeared on my brow.

My thoughts raced as I ran to get to my beloved computer to safety. What would I do without it? How would I function?

And as I got there, I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief, as fortunately, the wind was blowing the rain in the opposite direction, so no water seeped through my open window onto my unsuspecting computer.

After I realized my laptop was safe, another thought popped into my head. What had I become that this was my life, that I seriously worried about how I would function in society?

Even when I sit in front of a television, my trusty computer is usually there. I use it for simple entertainment reasons, such as to play games or go down rabbit holes on the web, and for practical reasons, such as to write down my thoughts, plan budgets and organize myself for work.

It’s a necessary tool to help enhance the use of my brain. But, technology can also be frustrating.

When the Internet goes down, I hear a collective moan and cry from nearly everyone in the office, “Has the Internet gone down?” That moan is quickly followed by, “Well, we may as well go home.”

Then there is the printer. Rarely does a week go by where the printer does not start singing its grinding song, letting us know that it’s about to stop working, often completely at random.

“How are we supposed to proof pages? On these little screens?”

Well, of course, but at the cost of the continuing trend of needing a stronger prescription for corrective lenses each time we visit the optometrist.

And then there are the everyday problems, often user errors. Such as when our page designer got a new keyboard. She took the USB cord from the keyboard, and instead of plugging it into the computer, she plugged it into the keyboard’s USB slots.

You can imagine the hilarity that ensued when we discovered why the keyboard didn’t work.

There are also other bigger problems as well, such as hackers that steal our card numbers from stores. Facebook, Google and many other sites also track almost every minor detail of our browsing habits to sell to advertisers and who knows where else. Then, of course, there is our own government mining the emails we send, all in the name of national security, of course.

In this market place, once we introduce a life-changing piece of technology, there’s no taking it back. It’s here for good, and I’m one of the first computer nerds who will glorify the Information Age. But sometimes, even I have to step back and think, is it really worth it?

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He built his first website in 1995 when he was 14. He can be contacted at 562-3187 or cain.madden@tidewaternews.com.