This I believe… that I am in an abusive relationship with technology, and I have been for years. At first, the mistreatment was mild: a lost file, an unformattable floppy. And I was always quick to forgive. Even quicker to forget. I believed in it so completely. It’s promise. It’s potential. As so often happens in this type of relationship, I blamed myself whenever there were problems. True, I could never identify exactly what I had done wrong; still, I felt certain, I was in some way responsible. Technology is nothing if not logical, operating in a world of rational cause-and-effect. Whatever the effect, I must have been the cause.
I did everything I could think of to maintain the peace, but it was never enough. Out of nowhere, a hard drive would come crashing down on me, or I’d be hit hard with a fatal system warning. Always, I would try to handle the situation myself, sure that with just a bit more sensitivity, a little more foresight, I could make it work.
Now, a smart person would have said, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I know it ain’t good. I’m out of here. Ciao.” A smart person. A sensible person. Or maybe just a less stubborn person. But me, I dug in my heals, and thought about all the good times. Times when we soared through the ethers together, Googling all kinds of wonderful places and people. But it never lasted. And each time, the damage was worse, took longer to heal.
I wish I were joking, blowing the whole thing way out of proportion. But the toll this association has taken on my physical and mental health is very real. Not to mention the price it’s extracted from my other relationships. There have been whole weeks when I’ve spent more time talking with an anonymous technical support person half a world away than I have with my own family.
As I struggle to pick up the pieces of the most recent crisis, I find I can longer deny it: this is not a healthy relationship, and no amount of effort on my part is ever going to turn it into one. Some people can live comfortably, even blissfully with technology. I am not one of those people. Nothing in my life has ever brought me so close to the brink of total despair. It has come to feel personal. It has come to feel purposeful.
I sit here now and try to envision a life without my laptop, finding it almost impossible to do. And yet, I find it even more difficult to imagine surviving another year like the one I’ve just gone through. As hard as it may be, for the sake my family, I know the time has come to say Good-bye. I’m aware of no support groups to help me through this, no restraining orders to enforce the separation. I’m just going to have to pull the plug and walk away.
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