Glitch conjures memories of 'good old days'
February 24, 2010
Last week for the first time in ages we can't access our e-mail accounts; can't use the Internet. It feels paralyzing. Panic attack inducing, almost.
I worry about the people trying to send e-mails, or those who have already sent them and think they're read and neatly tucked away in my e-mail inbox. I worry that they expect something they e-mailed me to be in tomorrow's paper—notice of a fundraiser for someone who's sick, announcement of an elementary school concert, letter of thanks or the opposite...
...I worry that readers think I'm ignoring their messages and I worry about the messages that will indeed get ignored because I cannot even remotely see them and do not even remotely know if they're there and then it occurs to me that this is a whole lot of worrying about something I have no control over so I better just get a grip and try to get the job done the old fashioned way.
This practically sends me into another panic attack as I struggle to recall the "good old days" where we did this very fast-paced business the old fashioned way.
Soon enough the memories creep back and a cold sweat beads upon my brow. Busy signals at the fax machine; busy signals at people's lone phone number—a landline. Piles of paper piling up as contact is still up in the air. Nothing to check off the list. Trips to the library to do research (actually did this last Monday). Two-and-three-day turnaround to get photos through via snail mail. I practically start to convulse.
I know things got along just fine before all this technology crept into my life, but it's certain that things didn't get along as fast and I'm in no hurry to take a few steps backwards. Like those of generations before me, I realize the "good old days" really weren't that good.
"We worked and worked and then we died," the old codger voice in my head says. "That was such fun!"
As much as I complain about the instantaneousness of technology we've all come to expect (and for some, love), I like exactly that when I need to get things done. It's so easy to shoot off an e-mail and check something off the list. Ball's in the other court, at least temporarily, and everything requested is neatly outlined and buttoned up.
Conversely, e-mail's in the inbox. Hit reply, acknowledge receipt, answer questions, confirm plans. Check. Check. Check.
I now realize that the lack of e-mail-Internet-access-thing is most difficult not when it comes to getting stuff done, but when it comes to the down time. Right now, for example, it's Tuesday afternoon and we're working on tomorrow's paper. The February 17 issue is not even completed and I'm sitting here typing--err--keyboarding in this column. Why is that, you may ask? Because everyone else is in the lunch room right now. I've already consumed my yummy low cal vegetable soup (okay, whatever) and have caught up on the front page and the jumps. This would be the time I surf the Web. Read other papers. Monitor select Web sites, stay plugged into what's happening now. But today, like yesterday, I cannot do that. My little mind cannot be diverted by the lure of the Internet, the mountains of instantaneous information and possibilities it brings. This leaves me with little else to do except, well, work. What a rip!
As is the case with so many other things in my life I am beginning to realize that I can't have it both ways. Can't lament about the amped-up pressure that technology brings and admit that I miss the amped-up diversion that technology brings. Can't want to live in the country and complain about all the work involved with living in the country. Can't smoke and say I don't smoke and vice versa.
This cold, hard reality is cold and hard. Oh how I long for the good old days... like last week when I could send e-mails and surf the Internet.
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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.