Too Many Doors / Joshua Alan Sturgill
I’ve been experiencing simultaneous failures of hardware.
My home computer, my phone and my work computer are all declining rapidly. My home computer is a decade-old laptop, my I-Phone 4 has an un-rechargeable battery, and the computer I use at work has become incompatible with some kind of “network requirement” that I don’t understand.
My stress level has reached a point of anxiety.
But why should these things be so stressful? The computer is not my self. Computers always fail. They begin a series of increasing obsolescence from the moment we turn them on. I have had so much trouble with technology that I should be completely used to technological disappointments.
But I have been trained to believe in the necessity and reliability of computers.
When I was in elementary school, computers were introduced to me as the singular hope for a better future. This was in the 80’s—before CD players and long before cell phones. But we had Star Trek, and it was obvious that culture was moving in directions outlined by our scientific imaginations.
I can’t help but expect uninterrupted tranquility from technology.
So when the technology fails, even in small ways, this is a shock to my education, to my worldview, to my civic pride. We’ve spent so much cultural and philosophical time learning to turn the earth into computers (every computer was once a living piece of the planet, let’s not forget). And once we’ve refined and altered the earth this much, there’s no going back. It all had better work.
But I think, too, there is a more personal issue involved when technology fails.
Today the thought occurred to me that there are to many inroads into my inner life: job, email, text, phone calls, home computer, tv shows, online shopping, apps, hobbies and addictions. I am at the mercy of a thousand bodiless voices. They all demand my attention. Equally, they don’t care about my personality, or about what is best for my emotional and noetic maturity.
Computers don’t care, so we make them user “friendly.”
I am so used to managing all the doors into my personal space that I almost become addicted to the work of management. I am proud to be contacted, to have advertising directed just at me, to be able have Amazon ship me any “good” at any time. I have rearranged my inner world to accommodate the inconvenient convenience of technology.
When technology fails, I am left gasping for breath like a fish in a shallow, drying lake.
I don’t know how to get out of what feels like a trap. I communicate with my friends through computers. I shop with computers. Computers are my memory and my storage unit and my post office. My cell phone is slowly replacing my heart as the Center of my life. I think it’s the same for everyone, though most are quite content for the change. Technology does relieve us from the responsibility to grow into our full humanity.
Again: technology relieves us of the responsibility of growing into our full humanity.
I can’t think when the tech fails. I am stressed and anxious. I want to connect. I want to know what’s happening in the outside world—which has become more important than the inside world. Only “one thing is needful,” Jesus said, and other wise folks have said the same. But now, I don’t know how to get back to One Thing. I don’t know what that One Thingcould be. Surely, he was exaggerating? Or speaking in a metaphor? What I do see is that when technology fails, I am left with nothing, because I gave up everything to have the technology.
When the screen goes dark, I suddenly find I have neglected fuel for my inner light.