Well this is just brilliant.
Countdown to start at new internship: 48 hours.
Excitement level: 10.
Ego level: (let’s be honest) 10.9
Possibly feeling a little borderline self-important. Don’t care. Doesn’t matter. Things are good. Very good. I start in 48 hours and everything is fine and I will be glamorous and carefree and work part-time from their studio and part-time from home on my
beautiful, slick new OH MY GOD, the coffee spillage could literally not be more everywhere.
My chromebook is literally crying coffee tears. The loading screen will just about work, but let’s face it, tipping a laptop on its side only to find coffee dripping out of every available orifice? Not a good sign. And now we’re just about to reach the most-challenging stage of all. The switch the thing off now stage. Well, more-specifically, switch it off and leave it off. Not for ten minutes or fifteen or half an hour and then back on ‘just to check’ because oh dear god, the impatience is eating.me.alive. No. Properly off. Switch it off and step away.
Nothing works. No loading screen, no charging light, no on button, no anything remotely resembling sign of life. Utterly crestfallen, because this is the end of the world, I do the best I can and leave it open, on its side, on the floor to air overnight.
Morning. Things just as bad. Except they’re not. They’re worse. Everything has taken on this horrifically sorrowful hue. Even the poor machine, lying there on its side, all foetal-like in its helplessness, has taken on this anthropomorphised aura of misery.
Thing is, it isn’t miserable. I am. And nothing, nothing will cheer me up. I feel lost and alone and exposed and like this intangible yet hugely important part of me has been surgically removed and here I am, limb-less, keyboard-less, lifeless.
I have a smart phone that works. I even have an iPad a friend immediately offers as temporary replacement and still, I continue to feel as lost as ever. On top of this, I must psyche myself up for what may be the most-painful ordeal of all. The great ‘send-off to the insurance company’. This, incidentally, unlike the technology it insures, proves almost impressive in its ability to remain firmly in the dark ages of “collection within five working days” and “assessment of your device within a further five working days”- are these people for real? Five working days? I can’t even handle five working hours.
It’s the weekend. Yes, I start in a new, exciting position Monday, but let’s look at this realistically. I’m hardly “disconnected”. I have a phone, an iPad and all the wi-fi in the world to complain about it on. And yet still, I feel bereft of my lifeline, ill at-ease on this strange tablet device with its equally strange keyboard and nothing will bring me comfort.
So this begs the question. How and why did we become so utterly attached to our devices that the loss of them breeds a sense of abandonment and insecurity, the parameters of which seem immeasurable?
Former professor at the University Of Wisconsin and now public speaker and writer, Joel S Hirschchorn refers to this as “technology servitude”. It is therefore not surprising to find a 2010 survey reporting that 61% of Americans would describe themselves as “addicted to the internet” and a further 44% of smart phone users sleep with their device next to their bed. I know I do.
When students were challenged to a 24-hour break from their devices, one of the most-reported insecurities lay in the anxiety that accompanies loss of ability to “touch” the devices we are so accustomed to tapping away at. An American participant reported: “I constantly felt tempted to reach for something I could turn on”, while in China, the study showed “loneliness and helplessness” that spread in positive correlation as the increasing “anxiety and desire of touching media”.
This is great stuff, someone said to me. Give us more. More what?, I said. More facts on the anxiety and helplessness. Sorry, no can do, I replied. Why?, they ask. Too anxious and helpless.
The chromebook is eventually returned to me, good as new. You’d think I’d be happy to be reunited with it. Except by this point, I’ve gotten used to the iPad’s touchscreen and now I keep tapping the chromebook’s screen and wondering why I’m not getting anything.