Wednesday, March 31, 2010


We humans are nothing if not delusional. We busily work at creating new technologies designed to "free" us from varying tasks, and without realizing it, we become slaves to the technology we create.

My internet modem crashed about two weeks ago, now...the third to do so in the past 18 months (thank you, Motorola!)..., leaving me with no direct access to the internet for nine days. I had no real idea of how strongly I depend on the internet until I found myself in a severe case of internet withdrawal: nervousness, pacing from room to room, muttering to myself, constantly looking at the clock, fighting the urge every ten minutes to check my email. My apartment became eerily silent (not that the internet makes any noise other then when I'm listening to classical music streamed through cyberspace, but you know what I mean). I finally resorted to putting my laptop in its little carrying case and setting off in search of someplace...anyplace...with wi-fi access.

When the modem died (did I mention this is the third time it's happened in 18 months? I did? Oh, okay. And did I mention that each of the three modems was made by Motorola? I did? I once had a Motorola TV back in the late '50s which I loved and which served me without a single complaint for ten years. If there is any inference or conclusion to be drawn from this, feel free to make it)...where was I?....Oh, yeah. When the modem died, I immediately called AT&T who, after the requisite "Press One for English" bullshit and jumping through their recorded hoops for the Reader's Digest version of eternity, apologized and told me that they would be sending a new modem...not a Motorola this time...and that I "should receive it by Wednesday"--one week from the day I called. I told them that no, I should NOT receive it by Wednesday, I should receive it tomorrow (Thursday). They finally said they would ship it overnight, and that I should have it by Friday.

Stop reading right here and place your bet as to whether the modem got here by Friday. I had no real expectation that it would (hope, yes; expectation, no). All just a part of the pre-determined winner of the corporate cat and bothersome-whiner mouse game.

Twelve years ago, I didn't even have a computer and now I find it nearly impossible to live without it. This is utterly ridiculous and quite deeply terrifying.

I remember going all through college with a small, portable typewriter. I remember, in the service, having to retype documents over and over and over again to get a perfect copy, then running them off on a mimeograph machine consisting of a gummy-surfaced rotating drum and smelly paper. Hardly Gutenberg's press, but not all that many steps removed from it when you think of it. It was not until the mid 1970s that I bought a wonder of the day, an elegant, cobalt-blue IBM Selectric II typewriter with a variety of available fonts (each on a small, easily changeable metal ball) which actually allowed you to go back and erase mistakes--an absolute Godsend for someone so prone to typing errors as I.

And then came my first exposure to home computers. It belonged to a friend, and I think it was an Akai, or something like that. It used MS DOS and I never, ever, did figure it out. He'd patiently set it up for me so that all I had to do was type. Oh, blessed simplicity.

But then came my very own first computer...a Gateway, as I recall...and I was hooked. They might just as well have hooked me up to a heroin IV drip. I still don't understand how computers work, or why they work (or, so often in my case, refuse to work), but I can get by, mostly. I'm like a baby in a tub of bath water, happily slapping the flats of his hands on the surface to see and hear the splash.

And so I come to the end of this fascinating blog on our dependence on the internet. Unfortunately, it is impossible to directly post a blog about not having a modem when one does not have a modem. Did I tell you this is the third modem I've gone through in the past 18 months, and that it drives me absolutely crazy? I haven't? Well let me tell you, then: my internet modem crashed about two weeks ago, now....

Oh, yes, and I finally got my new modem. It's a Motorola.

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