February 24, 2010

Time Machine Day

I've been doing a serious purge around the house lately. It's slow going because I'm a sentimental sort of gal. This purge started in January... see what I mean? But yesterday, I discovered a paper I wrote back in 1987, for an undergraduate English class. It was a humor piece about...

Why I Did Not, Nor Would Not, Use Computers

I am so amused by this eerily prophetic piece that I am compelled to share it with you today.

To those people who consider a personal computer to be nothing more than a television floating on top of a typewriter, terms such as PC, diskette, and byte have virtually no meaning. These people are not alone, for I too belong to this pitiful group of lost souls. The closest I've ever come to being user friendly was playing video games on an Atari when I was in junior high. My computer vocabulary consisted of Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Although I recently learned that a PC is short for personal computer, my vocabulary is rather limited. Diskettes and bytes still remain a mystery.

"Once you try it, you'll love it!" my user friends exclaim. User is an appropriate term. It conjures images of drug abuse and sexual conquering. Perhaps a computer can be likened to a seductive woman or illicit drug. It traps and entices, shackles and addicts. The seemingly innocent box of plastic and wire whispers, "Come on baby, Touch my keyboard and watch me light up. I want you to get close to me." A computer somehow manages to enamor even the most steadfast opponents. I revel in watching a user cringe as I set up the typewriter to type something from rough copy. Their pain is visible as unsolicited lectures about how much easier a PC would be while informal lessons in programming begin. Perhaps people writing with fountain pens once received similar endorsements concerning ball-point pens. Once addicted, any habit is hard to break.

Television advertisements extol the virtues of a home computer. I used to believe the ability to type was a valuable commodity. Typing is no longer sufficient, as the world's fasted typist tells me how a computer improved her speed. Parents who want to give their children the best of everything are urged to buy a home computer. Certainly, a child who grows up without a computer will never be able to function properly in society. Granted, computers can do many things better than I can; plan a budget, store information, or process a report. I simply remain unconvinced that our national security will be endangered should people choose not to buy a computer. If anything, national security seems more threatened, remember the movie War Games? Is nothing sacred in the world of computers?

Of course society does have to progress with the times. Communication has come a long way since the days of cave drawings. From stone tablets to quill and scroll to pen and paper to typewriters, the evolution to computers logically follows. Elimination of error is a continual striving of man. With each step in the communication hierarchy, another factor of human error is removed; no ink blotches, misspellings, typos, or uneven margins. Computers provide the ultimate in perfection. I'm not ready for perfection, even if I am willing to make concessions to changing times. After all, I would not want to buy a Sunday paper composed of stone tablets.

Call me conventional. Call me afraid. I admit that I am old-fashioned and set in my ways. If nothing else though, computers are an expensive investment. With each new model, the old becomes obsolete. So many advances are being made on a regular basis that a home computer which came out 10 years ago is literally worthless with today's newer components. In terms of consumer buying habits, I suppose I am a laggard. But until I succumb to the temptations of a PC, I will plug away on my trusty typewriter. Ignorance is bliss.

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