All around me these days, technology seems to be failing. Last week, our email/internet/phone system at work broke and was virtually unusable for three days. The same strange universal force responsible for that snafu also caused my boss's motherboard to short circuit, which made her micromanaging and robotic inability to communicate with most humans that much more intense. Several days later, my cell phone decided to only work when plugged in, which of course inspired a hi-larious trip to the Verizon store for a replacement wherein I was mocked by a store worker and sent home empty handed. Then, on Monday, my beloved remote control died. Oh, and yesterday, as many of you know,Gmail experienced some sort of hysterical breakdown.
All of this is inspiring me to throw my hands in the air and shout imploringly "why me?"
Times like this I question the efficacy of the so-called digital revolution. Sure, it's very nice that practically everyone in developed nations owns the21st century equivalent of a walkie-talkie and that I can be reached by my friends for a beer at the drop of a hat. But how necessary is that? Of course, I know this opinion to be unpopular. Take Saturday for instance. I have been spending some time with a new gentleman friend and I was explaining the cell phone situation to him.
"Okay, so the phone isn't working so well," I said. "So, uh, if you need to get in touch with me between these hours..well...you can't. So don't change plans at the last minute."
"But what if you're out and somebody wants to get in touch with you?"
"They won't. They'll just have to do it the way everyone did it 10 years ago. You know, in advance."
Novel, I know.
Really, the cell phone thing doesn't bother me that much.
But the remote? Yeah, that's another story. The writing had been scrawled on the wall many days in advance of its actual passing, I just thought the batteries might need replacing. I spent a good amount of time on Monday after tennis trying to revive it's cold, lifeless plastic body. A battery switch did not reap the results I had been seeking. Then I thought that perhaps the problem was due to poor channel surfing form so I spent some time pointing the remote at the TV with greater purpose and authority. Nada. I finally calledR CN and their solution to the problem was to have me press a bunch of buttons on the remote at once. Nothing. They finally conceded that it was indeed broken and that I should bring it in to the closest RCN store for a free replacement.
But yesterday, instead of performing said errand at lunch as I intended, I instead got sucked into joining my friends at work outside for a fun, social group lunch--an activity loads more enjoyable than errand-running.
This meant that later that night as I passed a few hours with friends over happy hour beers, my purse contained, in addition to the usual cell phone, wallet, random scraps of paper, tubes oflip gloss, keys and granola bar, a cell phone charger and a remote control.
Awesome. Because nothing says "sane" like a purse full of dead electronic gadgets.
And of course, I was subjected to a second night of no remote control, which seriously cramped my DVR watching. Can somebody please explain why DVRs have to be made so that not having a functioning remote turns TV-watching into the most arduous activity outside of scrubbing a kitchen floor with a toothbrush?
So today, invigorated by the positively crisp 80 degree weather, I made my way down to Metro Center to procure a new remote. Have you ever been to theRCN store on F Street? If so, you know that security there must be a pressing concern, as evidenced by the fact that their customer service reps sit inside large plexiglass boxes. It is seriously hardcore. Like, liquor store in Petworth hardcore. Do they fear violent exchanges with their customer base so much that they must resort to such drastic measures? Is there service *that* bad? Lucky for me, the remote control exchange took less than 5 minutes, most of which was spent enduring a minor level of emotional abuse from the lady in the plexiglass box after I asked for my batteries back and she scolded me for not thinking of that sooner. Good point. "Well," I countered, "I expected you to maybe try fixing the thing before you threw it into the 'broken remote control box'." While taking a snotty tone with abadass customer service lady with a very short temper trapped inside a plexiglass box is never advisable, she did seem to see my point and dropped the argument. Then she handed me my new remote and thus, my purse became home to an actual functioning piece of technology. Or so I hope.
So the problem with the digital revolution is that we become so reliant on it that when its trappings fail us, it's much harder for us to function, simply because we have to spend that time adjusting to the absence of that technology. It's like it creates a little glitch in the circuits of our own minds, which disrupts communication flows and makes everything pause for a second while we readjust course and pick up a book instead of watching Mad Men. Which is fine, but it's not insignificant.
There are times when I long for a more analog way of being. Like when I learned about the Impossible Project, I squeed with happiness. And when my friend M quipped that we need an analog counterpart to the internet. While I know that he wasn't serious, it got me wondering what that would look like. As I see it, it would sort of be a giant bulletin board where people would post things and those things might have strings linking to other things. Impossible yes, but fun and fanciful to imagine.
We may live in a digital world, but a heart, I am an analog girl.