Guest Commentary By Mitch MacKay of East Jordan
FIRST THING YOU FIND WITH COMPUTERS, and this is a quote from a computer repair person from 1998, “They’re gonna crash.”
Now, that was before that horrible day in September 2001 when the whole world was changed.
And, incidentally, the anniversary even 18 years later still sends a shiver up the spine reinstating the outrage of that fateful morning.
That which seemed impenetrable was suddenly penetrable.
It’s a pathetic analogy but computers, especially internet communications, are as fleeting as a will-of-the-wisp daydream crashing into reality.
We can’t, or we don’t want to, do without them because of the obvious convenience now available ubiquitously.
But that ubiquity also allows the whole world into our secret domains.
You might get an Eastern European hacker-scammer infecting your email or demanding extortion ransomware money to leave you alone, otherwise they’ll ruin your life.
Worst of all, document file folders and access to them might be infected or just totally gone with someone’s deft pushing of a keyboard letter, or a storm surge or a cable failure or electricity outage, a cat’s paw, or … who knows what?
That’s why we have computer repair people and around here scarce they are though many have come and gone since 1998.
This is a new trade and contrary to what we might assume most are self-taught, some innate sense of how to do it seems the main impetus for getting involved in this profession, not unlike those who find abilities in carpentry, medicine, arts, electricity, science, flying airplanes or any talent that just appears without any known instigation other than becoming aware of the talent and finding interest in pursuing it.
Still, there is the sense of temporary pervading computers.
Cell phones too.
And of course there is the CD debacle to look at over there hiding in the bushes trying to minimize its fading glare in the sunlight.
There’s that cognitive dissonance thing exemplified because of the dismissive tone assumed by the makers and users of Compact Disc audio who might even continue to extoll the virtues but who know for sure that the products wear out quickly, often even as they’re being recorded.
Hence it’s not so much cynical pessimism, more realism.
There are still cassette recorders available though not in retail stores, only through specialty dealers, online or in any case surface mail.
But the cassette tapes we might possess from as far back as 40 years or more still play as well as when first recorded.
No doubt so do LP vinyl records if one can find a player, which apparently is an available product again.
Nashville, Tennessee, the acknowledged home of Country Music, did away with LPs pre-millennium but is said to be back in the saddle again with that production.
Realistically, for most of us, a computer, if we’re at all curious, is a modern convenience unforetold but if broached in curiosity becomes a needed appliance.
For a writer it’s a dream come true.
Trouble is, the dream lied.
Well, not exactly but the shortcomings are manifold and about as exasperating as it gets.
This is a lover that cuckolds a guy into hanging himself in desperation at the unforgiving nature of what he thought was Nirvana but turned out to be a Netherworld of anxiety.
For my part, I’m an educated guy, a writer, and all I really need and want from computers – full disclosure, need and want mean formerly nonexistent tools – is an incredible Typewriter Keyboard with the ability to Correct while writing instead of erasing, retyping and so on, Printing which requires a printer connected to the computer, plus Copying which is surely a boon after Kinkos and the rest, Saving which is a dubious matter requiring further discussion, and then the ultimate facility: Emailing which requires an internet connection which is bundled into TV, phone and all things cyber via Cable or other techniques, internet R&D now having become a necessity and an office requirement in all departments of military, law, politics, academia, business, banking and bureaucracy no exceptions.
Surprisingly, these functions and equipment are to be found even in hinterland winterland locales as technological boom continues its relentless march to?
That’s just it: where is it all going?
If things fall apart, disappear, break, falter, change inexorably, what is the prognosis for the future?
Older people, of which I’m now a card-carrying member, have a hard time of it but there are some facilities dedicated to enriching the populace with such amazing communications devices.
Local libraries for instance hold classes for seniors and elementary schools now are equipping all students with some version of computers and internet access.
Even prisons are now involved in internet mail which pretty much dissolves snail mail for communiques.
And all this has taken place in the last 40 years though begun back in the 50s-60s, for most of us in real practical terms the last 25 years.
That’s such a thin sliver of time as to be reckoned one micro millisecond in the vast skein of time as we count it.
As tech ability continually transcends its former life and appears as smaller and smaller replicas of what’s often relegated to Dick Tracy Wrist Watches or Star Trek Phasers, wireless appliances intrude, commercial interests protrude, repairmen and women either keep up or move on, people either stay involved or get left way behind, the future is indeed unknown.
It’s here to stay but how long is here able to stay?
I hear no answers, not even any questions.
As to going without computer and internet, that means going back.
That might not be so bad, all things considered, but we’d surely miss the convenience we have now including music availability, videos, R&D, instant communications, complex keyboarding facility and so on.
Essentially we don’t want to feel we’re regressing but instead staying with the program.
If it lasts.
If it indeed continues in progressive directions.
Assessing by means of what has gone before, that looks dubious, and yet Americans are intrepid if nothing else.
We want to know.
We want to go.
Forward not backward even though going back might seem the better course at times.
And so, into the maelstrom go you and me and all. That, come what may, is the answer.