A Costly Love-Hate Relationship

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - December 13, 2006
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I had one of those moments with my computer recently. I love it. I hate it. I can’t live with it and yet am totally dependent on it. And now, because of it, my Christmas cards are late - again.

It was a little thing, really, that sparked this latest tussle with technology. A friend sent over several attachments containing the photos. My computer played stupid and claimed not to be able to open them. It instructed me to ask for help. I did. That led to a request to download a program that would allow me to see the pictures. So I did. I bought the download.

Well, here’s where I got really, really irritated. After plunking down a fee somewhere in cyberspace I figured my problems were solved, right? Nope.

Even with the fancy new program the pictures were still stuck inside some mysterious, impossible-to-open place, so I called up some all-powerful entity called a Wizard. The Wizard was supposed to magically guide me through a series of easy (hah!) steps to obtain my prize. Well guess what? Didn’t happen. Didn’t work. I still needed something, but I could not for the life of me understand what it was. I felt dumb. Even the Wizard had failed to drill through my thick skull and teach me how to open a simple attachment. I was stuck in computer hell.

This is just one example of how technology has enslaved us. In the old days the photographer would have handed me a roll of film and I would have gotten it developed and printed. Digital cameras have made it possible to bypass the time-consuming steps and allow us to download image we want and then e-mail it to our printer of choice. Simple and fast - unless something goes wrong and you don’t know how to fix it. Then it goes back to gobbling up your time as you try to figure it out. And that can be a confusing and expensive pain in the you-know-what.

I don’t think I’m alone here. I’m in that group that has embraced what the technology does for us but doesn’t quite understand how it works. I have all the gizmos but not the instinctive understanding of them that most grade school kids have today. So if something goes wrong I, a) spend too much time trying to fix it myself and failing anyway; or, b) giving up immediately; or, c) calling loudly for help. Somehow, all those so-called solutions are likely to end up costing money.

Of course I did find another way to get my pictures. But I never did figure out how to open the files. So I now have an expensive new program on my computer and no idea how to use it.

I may just give it a rest.

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