Melina Gunnett

January 23, 2012

Technology addiction

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:46 PM

Hi, My name is Melina and I am a technology addict.

I didn’t used to think those words applied to me. I don’t suppose any addict every does. They don’t describe the self portrait I have in my mind. I’ve rarely been a first adapter and seldom feel the need to go acquire the latest technology when what I have works just fine. Yeah, I have lots of shiny gadgets but, compared to my geek heavy circle of friends, I am practically a Luddite. The varnish on that particular picture started to crack a few weeks ago.

Alright, maybe the first clue should have been that I packed more plugs, cables and chargers than underwear for my trip. At the time I was far more concerned with getting enough stuff into my carry-on to avoid having to check luggage. The first clue came when I got a virus on my laptop.

Three days – that is what I spent trying to figure out how to get my computer back without losing anything. Yes, I succeeded. Yes, it was worth it, but it could have waited. There wasn’t anything I really needed that couldn’t have waited until I got home. I still had move phone, which got me on to facebook, my e-mail and the Internet. I just couldn’t deal without having my laptop available in case I wanted to write.

I should have just shelved the project. I was in Boston, the time would have been better spent catching up with friends who I probably won’t see for at least another year, but obsession kicked in. There was just one more little thing that needed to be done before it would work… It should only take a few more minutes. It ended up taking a lot of “few more minutes”. In retrospect, I should have just gotten a pad of paper.

The lesson I should have walked away from that experience with was “people are more important”. In truth I believe they are. Sadly my addiction kept me from bringing that truth into my reality and I didn’t get the chance to see a few of the people I would have really liked to spend more time with. What lesson did I actually walk away with? I should make sure I have a full back up before going on a trip, always carry a USB card and UBUNTU has gotten really, really easy to install.

Despite showing up at a convention already into my third day of sleep deprivation, I probably wouldn’t have realized how bad my technology addiction had gotten if the next crack in the varnish hadn’t of come so soon afterward. That Sunday night I lost my cell phone.

Yes, that should just mean I can’t make any phone calls (bad enough), but this is the modern age. What it meant was: I didn’t have an alarm clock, I couldn’t do mobile facebook updates after panels, I lost most of the pictures I had take that weekend, I lost the notes I had been taking in panels, I couldn’t take my turns in scrabble or let people know why I disappeared, and I couldn’t just text people to meet up somewhere at the con. It really was kind of pathetic how lost I was without my electronic mind.

The loss became even more apparent when I had to reschedule my flight because I didn’t get the text message that they had changed the time. Of course all my contacts where also on the phone – which meant I couldn’t even call my ride to let them know I would be arriving at the airport three hours later than planned. Yes, those are all practical concerns; signs of dependence, not addiction. I even found away around them using – you guessed it – more technology. The true sign of addiction was how frustrated I was that I couldn’t log my airport check-ins on foursquare to unlock the next badge level.

I still might have let it all go unnoticed, a lesson in electronic dependence rather than addiction, but the mother nature decided that it was time for me to face my reality. The entire vernier of my mental picture cracked and shed away the day after I got back. I was finally home. I had my main computer and easy access to the Internet I still needed to get a new phone, but was contemplating letting it go for a while. That lasted all of a day. Then the ice storm hit.

I have lived without electricity before. I spent years living in the mountains with a wind up alarm clock, propane stove and cold creek that doubled as an ice chest. Part of me had thought I wouldn’t mind doing it again for a summer. Reality can be very disillusioning. Despite the fact that we had flashlights, blankets, books and boardgames, in less than a day we were making our way to the nearest place with electricity (about an hours drive) to charge up all our devices and connect out to the Internet for news.

It was four days before we had power. I think it was the first time my godson had ever been though even a day without electricity and the devices it powers. Al my plans for getting home and getting back to work on my book when out the window. What, you thought I was going to write by hand and then try to decipher what I put on the page? Not very likely! (or practical, if you have every tried to read much of my handwriting)

Nope, I did what pretty much everyone else around me was doing. Instead of just accepting the loss of power until it came back on and using the time to hang out with other electricity deprived people, I spent most of the time trying to find places to hang out, power my electronic world and connect via the Internet.

I am a technology addict, and it seems I am not alone.

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