Do you sometimes think that however great modern life is, it really is full of dangers that you are simply NOT equipped to deal with?
Take the Computer. Your best friend and mortal enemy all at once. We love’em and hate’em in equal measures. We love them because they represent a real gateway to the biggest library of words, images and sounds called The Internet and we hate them because they, at times, seem to develop a will of their own. Having said that, the computer must be one of the only technologies that most of us have never been trained to use.
We learn how to drive a car, how to cook and even how to do laundry but with PC’s, we just go to a shop. We ask a question like “which one is the best?” and after 40 minutes of a salesman dazzling us with RAM, cache, gigabytes, terabytes, WLAN, wireless routers and other terms and letters which mean very little to anyone we part with the best part of £400, a £150 worth of printer, another 50 quid for a wireless router, £200 of security programs (got to have it, sir, dangerous world out there…) and a five year warranty worth nearly as much as the computer itself. We also leave with the feeling we have lost, not just a chunk of our life savings but the will to live.
Once plugged in, you sit down, press a button and can’t wait to start. The salesman having assured you than even the dimmest of monkeys could use this system does not help your confidence when you realise that you don’t even get a picture on your screen let alone surf the Net in “no time”. So as soon as you get a relative visiting you (it helps if said relative is below 10 years of age) and they show you that connecting the monitor is absolutely essential to see an image on it, you begin to realise that maybe it is time to get back to basics.
So off you go to the library, find a few books and read about your new marvel. Which is exactly what you would have done in the past of course and though the thought crosses your mind, you know you have not got a choice anyway.
When, six months later, you finally manage to get round the fact that “cookies” are not to be eaten, that “bytes” seldom hurt and that “upload/download” are not likely to break your back because of their weight, it is time to get online….
And that is when you also realise that another universe of pop ups, firewalls, address bars, browsers and email clients are awaiting you. You could even swear that you can hear the PC laugh at you silently when you turn it on.
Of course, once it is all mastered, the world of the computer is a joy. And the Net certainly has revolutionised our lives. But I wonder sometimes whether the price to pay is a high one. Are we totally ruled by those machines now? And will there be a time when the world collectively screams STOP….