Computers are supposed to make our lives easier, or, if not easier, at least better. Word processing gives us tools like format painter and auto-correct—features no typewriter or mechanical pencil ever could. Email and the Internet have enabled us to communicate faster, father, and cheaper than any other form of communication. With microchips, we can now take cabinets, closets, and even warehouses full of information and distill that information down into a slice of metal no larger than a fingernail.
I can still recall when I used to feel excited about using a computer: in junior high school, I had to beg my parents to let me commandeer our phone line for “just an hour” in order to check my Juno email account and sign into what was, at that time, the newest craze: chat rooms! In high school, I hurried to get my schoolwork done so that I could spend the rest of the night chatting with my friends K8y99 and SnOEcone59 and downloading music on LimeWire. In college, I spent more time reading textbooks and copying down notes by hand than I spent working on a computer, so checking my email was still exciting; back then, I looked forward to finding emails in my Inbox almost as much as finding physical letters in my CPU box. Computers were necessary (as many of my professors would never have let me turn in a hand-written report), but they were not yet mandatory—they did not yet dictate the pattern of my day.
Then I had to get a Real Job. Until I graduated from college, I had only ever worked standing-up, hands-on sorts of jobs: delivering newspapers around my neighborhood, lifeguarding at community pools, brewing espresso and cutting brownies at the campus coffee shop. I took a few summer internships that involved desk work, but most of these were part-time and, therefore, allowed me to continue to work one of my “active” jobs.
Then graduation arrived. Soon after leaving college, I took the job at Wiley and became one more slave laborer on a cubicle farm. Every day, I come in, hang up my coat, and log onto my computer. While the machine sets itself up, I change my shoes, boil a cup of tea, check my mail slot (and my boss’s), and finally settle in front of the computer screen for the next 4 hours. At noon, I usually go for a half-hour run, just to have an excuse to leave my seat and breathe some fresh air, and then settle back down at that computer for the last 3-4 hours of my day.
As you can see, I spend an average of 7 hours each day in front of a computer. This means that of the approximately 16 hours I am awake on any given weekday, nearly half of those hours are spent chained (and I use that word only vaguely figuratively) to a computer. Now, instead feeling excitement at receiving a personal email, I cringe, knowing that I will have to take the time to reply to it when I get home from work. Which, of course, means spending more time in front of a computer.
Which, ultimately, brings me to the problem of blogging. Blogging is one more activity that must be done on a computer. And quite honestly, the last thing I want to do when I come home from work—where I have already spent most of my waking staring at a computer screen—is be on a computer. I have no desire to reply to emails, look at Facebook, browse YouTube, or, alas, sign onto Blogger.com. This, I must admit, is the primary reason my blog entries have trailed off over the past couple years: not because I dislike writing or have found fewer things to say, but because when I finally have the time to write a post, I must begin by sitting down at a computer—the biggest struggle of all.