Technology I Can’t Live Without—Wow am I Privileged

I can’t write on paper. Not only is my handwriting wretched, but my hand can’t keep up with my brain, so I’m constantly writing letters out of order. Add in that I’m left-handed, and it’s a miracle that anyone can ever read anything I write at all.

I didn’t like writing much of anything until my mother bought our first home computer circa 1985, when I was twelve. Suddenly, I had something to say, and started writing just for fun.

After a few years experimenting with other programs, I can say that I am in a committed and exclusive relationship with Word. When I first got my Mac I tried Open Office. I tried Text Edit and Pages, but I think best in Word. I recently went away for a weekend and forgot my computer—I had hid it from my cat, which is a long story you can read here if you are interested—but the point is that the older I get, the more set in my ways I become. Also, the older I get, the less I can function without autocorrect and spell check.

In order to write, I have to have internet. I realize that I actually don’t have to have the internet, but not having the internet makes me twitchy. Plus, since I had kids, my memory is shot to hell, so I often have to look things up. I don’t mean research, which of course I do, but good, simple words that 90% of people know but I can’t seem to recall when I need to. Most of the time, when I pull up thesaurus.com I’m not looking for a fancier word, or a more precise one—rather, I’m looking for a common word I can’t put my finger on. My son just showed me the tip of my tongue website, and I think my life just changed.

Speaking of the internet, my one OCD-type behavior, or my most common manifestation of OCD-type behavior if you prefer—is that I have to have my tabs in the same order. Email-Calendar-Facebook-Twitter-Research. I get squirrelly if they aren’t set up right, and I’ve been known to close the entire thing and start over if they get disordered.

 

Second to my computer is my phone, but if I happened to take all my electronic devices out in a row boat and had an unfortunate mishap and could only save one, it would be my laptop, hands down, and not only because it is easier to replace. Since I recently got an iPhone, it’s become almost like a second smaller arm of my Mac, but it’s all life in the cloud and the object itself is fungible. If I had to live without any sort of cell phone at all I could—for a short period of time—but only because I’d just lug my laptop around everywhere and use Messenger instead of text and google directions the old-fashioned way.  I like the portability of the phone, but I hate typing on the dang thing, and I must say that the iPhone’s voice-text interface is bound and determined to make me look like a drunken monkey. But I love my kids’ having phones, even though they never seem to have them on when I call. It helps my anxiety to know they have the ability to communicate if necessary.

Other than that, I’m not much of a big technology person. Oh wait, is a backup cam considered technology? I can’t live without that—just ask the tree in my front yard. I think it still has some shards of rear blinker embedded in it. Apparently, I have trouble switching between cars equipped with backup cams and ones that assume I will remember to look in the rear-view mirror on my own.

Although I’m a fan of Bluetooth technology for listening to audible books, I occasionally live without it if I’m in a vehicle that isn’t equipped. I don’t believe in Amazon SpyAlexa or other things. I hate surround sound—I want to be able to walk away from noise, and whole-house music systems bug the living crap out of me.  I had a heart rate monitor for a while, but I got sick of replacing the batteries. I’m not a Fitbit or Apple watch kind of girl. I don’t have cable—only Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I could exist quite happily without an actual television, as long as I had my beloved laptop.

Writing this really makes it apparent just how spoiled I am. I haven’t forgotten the times I had to go to a library or internet café to use a computer, because I couldn’t afford one of my own. I remember not having a cell phone for the same reason.  I drove a car for many months that had a leaky window and required me to wear a raincoat when driving in the rain, and for more years than I care to remember an automatic transmission was the technology I dreamed of.  There was a time I saved up for a several months in order to buy a used portable word processor on Ebay so I could write the words keeping me up at night. I dragged my college dictionary from New York to Florida to Kansas, and then to Ohio, and even though now I generally use m-w.com, the dictionary and I have been through so much together I’d never get rid of it. So I appreciate these technological advances, and I appreciate that I can afford them. I could really live without most all of them if I had to—except for my laptop. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t imagine living computer-free, and now I have to knock wood to keep from cursing myself.

 

 

 

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Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She writes a lot, and sometimes even likes how it turns out. Her memoir, Girlish, available for preorder on Amazon, is slated for release in February 2018 with Skyhorse Publishing. Lara Lillibridge is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. In 2016 she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest, and The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction. She has had essays published in Pure Slush Vol. 11, Vandalia, and Polychrome Ink; on the web at Hippocampus, Crab Fat Magazine, Luna Luna, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and Airplane Reading, among others. Read her work at www.LaraLillibridge.com

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