So yesterday my computer went into the shop and I’ve just gotten it back, now with new speakers. It was in the shop all of 24 hours, and I found this to be a bit of a surreal experience. It’s amazing – and a little disturbing — how much of my daily life has come to be centered in this piece of hardware and all that it does for me. This is partly due to the fact that my family and friends are scattered all over the world and partly due to the fact that I am a graduate student. But as I sit outside the Apple store to type this and check my email, I can’t avoid the fact that we are truly in a world radically different from the one I grew up in: communication is an entirely different affair from what it used to be.
Is the hold that tech has on us a good thing? Yes and no. I slept in this morning, read a book and took a long walk by the lakes. I saw two great blue herons (one in flight at close range), two Baltimore orioles, several redwing blackbirds (one of which was scolding and chasing a ferret), a mother bird teaching a baby to fly, a large number of geese and ducks, and lots of amazing prairie grasses and flowers. I painted in a journal. While I can walk and look and rest and paint when I have my computer, these activities have a different flavor in the digital silence.
Well, I’ve scanned my email accounts and checked facebook. Time to take my silicon-brain-friend home. This experience has me thinking about how the computer humanizes me, by bringing my friends just a bit closer, and yet how important it probably is to take vacations from the digital world.