At a time when I’ve become more dependent on technology than ever, I lost my Wi-Fi for three days. As emails piled up, and deadlines loomed, I sought patience, juggled my to do list, found other ways to communicate and shuffled along as best I could. Others were just as inconvenienced. Across from me lives a woman who works fulltime out of her home – and couldn’t get on the Internet. A man, I know trades on the stock market daily and would lose thousands of dollars if he needed to sell and couldn’t connect.
Technology has brought us so far at the detriment of so much. Computers will make paper obsolete experts declared. Yet, I remember when I shopped and the clerk would ring up my sales on a cash register, take my money and give me a six-inch strip of paper. Now I wait while they print off a sales invoice, staple it to a receipt, that has a back up receipt attached, and possibly a gift receipt. Scads of paper are handed over along with my purchase. Recent statistics show the sell of books has increased and demand for e-books decreased.
I’ve moved from writing on a typewriter, where the biggest problem would be having to retype a page, to working on a PC. I am a victim of kidnapped chapters, murdered files, and updates that beat up my programs. I will never learn to fix these things myself, because the workings of a computer form the threshold of my total lack of interest. I expect my PC, like my eggbeater will do its assigned task. Thus, I’ve spent a fortune on tech assistance over the years.
Yet, technology, when it works gives me an ease, which I cannot replace. The speed of typing a manuscript into my laptop, knowing I can copy it, move it, share it, store it, and get it back, all with just a few strokes of the keys, is something I will not give up.
Using a computer for work is like having a gambling addiction. I keep going back, regardless of the risk. Will this be the time I lose it all? I wager that I can deliver, never knowing from one second to the next if my software fails, my hardware breaks, or Internet service will go down. Knowing this I still step up to the table and throw the dice.
I guess I should consider myself lucky I am such a small target it’s unlikely I’ll be hacked. I watch the big corporations facing ransom hackers and realize there is yet another player in the game. I can’t see a future when we ever have a sense of full security and safety. I have a vision of the plastic sleeve holding photos, folded like an accordion, we would take from our purses and flip open for any viewer (interested or not!) and compare it with the lengthy list of passwords we must keep near. Most of us don’t try and end up storing them in some easily identifiable file – a courtesy to any hacker attempting entrance. I have a phobia about having my identity stolen, believe my phone and laptop are spying on me, and can’t imagine giving my house over to an artificial intelligence that can inventory my fridge, decide what I will want to eat next week, shop for me online, then pay the store with my financial information. Or, God forbid, let an AI like Alexa control my home and have access to my bank account.
I realize my age is showing because thousands of millennials take these services for granted. They run their lives through the software on their phones, downloading apps that operate every aspect of their day, from making their coffee to shutting down the house at night. We worried about the crash of technology on the centennial. We are so much more vulnerable now. I wonder how our younger generations would survive being unplugged. I know I’ll go on strong with or without connectivity.