Warmest regards: My computer, my lifeline
By Pattie Mihalik
There should have been a noise that sounded like a wrecking ball hitting an old building.
Instead, there was no sound when my computer took a devastating hit that affected so many areas of my life.
I didn’t even realize the wrecking ball called a computer crash had shattered so many parts of my world.
Instead, when my computer kept shutting down, I kept turning it back on, sure that my screen would soon have all my work on it.
It never happened. My computer screen remained blank.
Of course it happened when I was under deadline, trying to finish an important story that had to run that week.
A friend who works in information technology was the one who alerted me to the depth of my problem.
“Your hard drive crashed,” he said. “Everything on it is probably gone.”
Although he said he can fix any computer problem, he couldn’t help me, he explained, because I have a Mac.
“Apple is a different world. You have to get someone that specializes in Apple.”
After some frantic calls to computer places, I found a business that said it works with Apple.
“There’s a 50-50 chance we can save what’s on your hard drive,” he said.
I willingly paid the $160 fee and probably would have paid more if I could have my work back. I was set to fly out to spend Christmas with my family. But first I needed to meet my newspaper deadlines by sending in my columns and feature stories.
I spent a full week getting everything written before my trip. I could close my eyes and picture how the stories were lined up across the top of my desktop.
But it turned out they no longer exist there. Nothing does.
For a while I had the “you break, we fix” shop on speed dial, employing the technicians to please, please restore my work.
I won’t bore you with details, but the bottom line is everything that once was is no more.
My stories are gone. My files are gone.
If all that wasn’t enough, my email is gone, taking all my contact information with it.
Just as devastating is that all my photos are also gone — wedding photos, family photos, work-related phones and the priceless photos of my Italy trips — all gone.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Why didn’t I have a backup system?
There’s a commercial for one of those store-it-in-the-cloud firms that says: It’s not a question of IF your computer will fail. It will. The only question is WHEN it will happen.
I never paid much attention to those commercials. I was just too naive. I thought everything I stored in my computer was keeping it save. (Naive is another word for stupid.)
I was told to try the Mac store in Sarasota. OK, I went to look up the phone number the same way I always do — on my computer. The one that no longer functions.
I never realized how much of my daily life revolves around my computer and the internet until that happened.
Most of us don’t even have local phone books anymore. If we need a number, we find it on the computer.
If I need a contact from the past, I go to the computer.
Past tense of course.
I felt like an amputee still feeling phantom pain from a severed limb.
In addition to my professional life, I count on my computer for my personal life.
Every time the bell chimes, it means someone is reaching out to, or, someone is sending information I need for one of the committees on which I serve.
I learned if you don’t have a functioning computer, it’s like you are sitting there with a black hood over your head, unaware of what’s happening around you.
A while back someone asked if I had any addictions. I laughed and said, “No, just food.”
Never would I have said I was addicted to computer use, because I never realized how invasive a computer is to every bit of our life.
My hard drive crash taught me I am addicted to computer use. I’m certainly lost without it.
Even knowing I no longer had a functioning computer, I kept going to my desk wanting to check my email.
If I want to know what grocery store has the best prices on ham, I go to the computer to look it up.
If I want to know the starting time of a movie, again, I go to the computer for that information.
When our church project committee wants to notify us of an important change in meeting plans, they tell us all via email.
If you don’t have email, you’re out of it.
If you want to know why a company didn’t deliver the package you ordered, you go on the computer to track the shipping project.
When my friends want to reach to me, they don’t call. They either text or send email.
I never realized how much our everyday life is intertwined with computer use.
So, OK. I learned two things:
One, I need to stop procrastinating and get a backup system for my computer.
And secondly, I need to stop scoffing at kids because they are addicted to computer use.
I am too.
And perhaps so are you.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at firstname.lastname@example.org.