Column - Computers are a lifelineComputer withdrawal is almost as bad as quitting smoking. Most of us, I think, are kidding ourselves when we crow about how we are not addicted to computers.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Computer withdrawal is almost as bad as quitting smoking.
Most of us, I think, are kidding ourselves when we crow about how we are not addicted to computers.
“If it weren’t for my news work,” I’ve vowed so often, “I would disconnect my Internet service. It’s all just cyber-junk. Who needs it?”
Quick answer? I do!
My computer was “down” twice during the past six weeks. I panicked, I paced, I got light-headed with anxiety like when I quit smoking a year ago. I thought I was going to lose my mind, again. We can get so smug about things we think we don’t need – until we need them. A power outage shows us what slaves we are to electricity. A dead car reminds us how dependent we are on those four tires turning reliably. And a crashed computer is a real slap in the face as we wake up to the fact we are hopelessly in love with that screen-and-keyboard combo we hate so often. This twisted love affair is even true of old duffers like me, who were hauled kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
I’m still kicking, still screaming – that is, when my computer doesn’t work.
As so many people have long said, “There is nothing better than a computer – when it’s working.”
Yes, and nothing worse when it doesn’t.
My at-home computer is my lifeline to my half-time job. Most of my work I can do right from home. I write my news stories and send them to the news office via Internet. It’s a nifty way to do my work, not to mention a huge saver on car-gas bills.
Beyond my work, however, I’ve discovered just how much I depend on Internet. About six weeks ago, a fiendish pop-up box called “Security Tool” rendered my computer unusable. A computer expert fixed the problem. A few weeks later, purple-red lines, like neon prison bars on my monitor, made it impossible to do any writing. After a lot of trial-and-error diagnostics (not by me, I can assure you!), my brother-in-law determined it needed a new video card. Yup, the new card worked, thank goodness.
During those two “down” weeks, I can’t count the times I walked through the house to my office/library to check something on the Internet, only to remember, “Whoops, it’s not working.” For example, just before the Oscar awards broadcast, I heard Jeff Bridges had been nominated in the past for five Academy Awards. As an long-time Oscar buff, I couldn’t believe that. I couldn’t remember him nominated for anything, much less five awards. I got up to go to my Internet. Darn! It’s not there. On another day, a neighbor and I were trying to figure out the opening lyrics of Honky Tonk Woman by the Rolling Stones. Jagger, as if his big mouth is full of mashed potatoes, muffs those lines. (I’ve had to look up that opening verse umpteen times over the years, and I always forget it.)
“I’ll prove it,” I said. “Just a minute. I’ll go check the Internet.”
Whoops, nope, impossible.
Remember the “good old days” when we had to make trips to the library and rummage through heavy reference volumes and ink-smudged card catalogues to find any information? The Internet is not only wonderful for instant-information access but also as a direct line to any and all trivia. Much as I hate to admit it, the Internet has become an indispensable part of my daily life. Without it, I would feel adrift without a lifeline.
By the way, two days ago, my computer up and running again, I did some instant research. Jeff Bridges did, in fact, receive five Oscar nominations, and here (if you care) are the opening lyrics to Honky Tonk Woman:
“I met a gin-soaked bar-room queen in Memphis.
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride.
She had to heave me right across her shoulder
Cause I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind.”