Writing Out Loud: PC-nado

By George Stahl

Computers are a bust! It took me at least an hour longer to write this than normal due to some stupid computer thing. Slow responding, then no responding. How many times has that or something else computer related caused you to have a mini nervous breakdown? There has to be a name for it, but I’ m afraid that if I leave this page to Google it, something will happen to cause me to lose what I just wrote.

It is amazing how a device like a PC has so much control over our lives. Here, it was created, I imagine anyway, to make our lives so much easier. Not simpler, we know that isn’t the case. Instead, it brings out the Mr. or Mrs. Hyde in some of us. I say some because there are people who know how to use these contraptions of confusion. There are also those of us who pretend to know how to use them just so we don’t look like technical idiots. Speaking from personal experience, that’s not as easy to do as you’d think. In order to be passable in your ignorance, you do have to know something of the operating system of your lap top, iPad, iPhone, or whatever you are using. Then you have to be able to fill in the blanks as the other person, a self-proclaimed expert on the subject, rambles on about megabytes, gigabytes and any other kind of byte there may be. At the end of the lengthy description of his situation, he laughs as if you are supposed to see some humor in what he rambled to you in that foreign techy tongue. Your response is a simple smile and maybe accompanied by a nod or a chuckle.

Remember something called a typewriter? Remember taking a typing class in high school? That was our computer training. Especially if you were using an electric typewriter. Boy those machines could rip through a manuscript in no time. Remember the sound the keys made as they rose up from the pit in front of the machine, and slammed into the paper rolled up in the paper holder. The faster you typed, the louder the slam, and the louder the slam, the more you felt like you were getting something done. As the bar holding the paper rolled upwards, and to the left side of the machine, the soft bell would sound, and you would reach up and with one quick move, send the paper holder returning to the start position to the right of the machine. This could go on for hours.
Where has all of that excitement gone? Those motions and those sounds gave us a sense of belonging. Everything we typed became real. I guess this typing thing had its own set of frustrations though. Sometimes the paper would crinkle, and we’d have to stop to smooth it out and reload it into the paper holder. Or the ink on the band that mounted on both sides of the keys would start to fade, and we’d have to stop to change it. Sometimes, if we went to fast or if the machine was older, the keys would stick together, and we’d be forced to stop, reach forward and untangle them. The worst that could happen, and it was a real nightmare, we’d make a mistake in the middle of the page. So? you say. Well, so, we didn’t have a delete button on the typewriter. But, we did have, eventually, White Out! Our generations answer to the delete button.

Now, we have evolved to this. A keyboard, similar to the one on the typewriter, only these are equipped with delete buttons, a monitor where what we type is displayed in front of us, and a tower which houses the brains of what we are using. Typing on the keyboard is not so bad. If you practice, you may even be able to do that thing when you turn your head and without looking at the keyboard, you create a masterpiece thesis or something.

Coming up through the years, relatively short years at that, and seeing the changes in technology can be very overwhelming sometimes, but as long as we have our grandchildren, we will survive this storm of technology coming at us with gale force winds. PC nado! It’s the next sci-fi movie.
Type on.