Tech Issues

My laptop is running high (emitting a loud machine sound, not jogging after smoking a spliff) so I carry it into the office and embark upon my original plan, which involves sitting on the couch with a good book.

As I sink into Remains of the Day (read it!), my tablet blings. Like you, I have become an interpreter of the blings, beeps, bongs, and buzzes that come from my devices. This one means a Facebook message.

For a few moments, I am successful at ignoring its lusty call and remain in the story of Stevens and Miss Kenton. However, I eventually do what we all knew I’d do and check it. Before I can, my phone buzzes, delivering the same message.

The message is from a friend who wants to know if I can come to an event she is putting on. At once, I realize I have forgotten to respond and wince under this new, acute pressure to be socially responsible. And then I groan, for I have made the classic (in this case, ‘classic’ is defined as going back as far as four years) mistake of clicking on her message rather than previewing it. Subsequently, I have rendered her message as seen, which means she now knows I have seen the message, in turn I now have to deal with this sooner rather than later. I kick myself. I could have just gone back to my book, but now I have to craft a response, one that not only says ‘no,’ but one that conveys an element of sadness or frustration with my inability to attend.

I cast a forlorn look at my book.

Were I one for philosophical reflection, (I’m not, I prefer blissful ignorance and cartoon sitcoms) it might dawn on me that a load of my daily stresses are brought about by technology. In the first place, a tech problem can spark a (frankly psychopathic) tantrum and ruin a day spent dwelling on it. Of course this points to a fear of severed communications and an underlying terror of alienation. So, while it may start as a pragmatic concern, it crashes into existential implosion. I don’t need that shit.

Besides the reminders or stress of putting off writing to someone, there is also the other shoe. Namely, wondering why someone who has seen a message from you hasn’t yet gotten back to you. Heaven forbid the situation involves your embroilment in a flirtation, the resulting continuance of hypothetical possibilities and subtextual meaning are enough to drive one to drink. And by ‘one,’ I mean me.

While I often intend to respond to someone, I find that having three devices (laptop, phone, tablet) results in more forgetfulness. Surely the ostensible goal of these devices is to introduce convenience to and facilitate communications; however, at times they complicate things. I used to sit and both check and write emails. Now, I get emails all day long and might not be in a position to answer (i.e. walking to class) so I make a note to answer later. Then I forget. So despite the fact that I receive the communique on three devices, I don’t answer.

I am surely not the first person to point out the slew of new aggravations technology brings on, nor am I unaware of the fact that these ‘problems’ are of the First World Category. But I wonder if putting these things down for a while or setting specific times to check them might do a world of good.

At the very least, today, I decide to worry about my friend later, and get back to the tale of Stevens and Miss Kenton. Maybe I’ll have a drink.

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