Computer Dependence · 11 January 2007

With all of the power outages lately, we keep the candles close at hand. I wrote before about some of the things we did without power, but I was appalled to learn how dependent on my computer I have become.

When the power went down for 30 and then almost 90 hours on the last two occasions (believe me that I am not complaining considering how many days some people lasted), I barely survived the lack of computer. I had to write my column about our power loss with paper and pen. It used to be that I always wrote with paper and pen first and then copied and edited my thoughts onto the computer later. But now, I almost need to feel the keyboard at my fingertips to write. It is faster and I can edit as I go. (Not that I do not need more editing after I think I am done but that is beside the point.) I know it is a sad state of affairs, but I sometimes feel lost without my computer.

Apparently, it is not just the computer that I missed when the power was out. I never thought that I was an internet addict but I guess that I am. I do not watch videos or listen to music like many of my students do. I do not do research about cool things I can teach my students like some of my colleagues do. I do not even read the newspaper online like my mother does. I just read my e-mail and Google my own name.

E-mail and instant messaging have become premiere ways to communicate anymore since people are attached to their computers and cell phones. I wish that I could say that I keep in better touch with my family and friends via e-mail, but like many people, I just read jokes that people keep sending around and delete junk mail. Yet, I am strangely at a loss when I can not access that very same e-mail. My day seems incomplete when I do not get to delete the spam and read the jokes that accumulate in my inbox.

I really do use the internet more than to just Google my own name. Sure, I like to see the different places my name shows up. Especially, since I am just a regular person who does not paste photos of myself doing dumb stuff onto the internet for all to see. I like to see where my book shows up and more recently, how many of my by-lines make it onto the first search page of whichever search engine I use. I know that it is vain and somewhat sad but I can not spend all my time on the internet being productive and checking out what cool stuff I can be doing in the classroom for my students.

Regardless of how I use the internet, I still missed it and my mailbox full of spam when the power went out. I knew that the jokes and junk and even real correspondence would still be there when the power came back on but I still missed the freedom to be able to check it whenever I wanted. And I missed being able to write on the computer. I suppose that I will go back to taking electricity for granted, but for now, I am thankful for it and for all those who worked so hard to give it back to those of us who did not have it for so long. Thank you for giving us back our electricity. And with it, our computers.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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