Our department’s email system crashed on Thursday. “Crashed” is probably too gentle of a word. More like “obliterated itself.” We were suddenly separated from the rest of humankind. Unable to send or receive. Bereft of the ability to “mark as read.” Prevented from updating a calendar. Cut off from our contact lists.
It was nothing short of a return to the Dark Ages.
Friday was equally dismal. I moped through some projects. Tried to do some writing. Pretended to be creative on a task or two. But all the while I was jonesin’ for an email fix. What was the rest of the world doing, I wondered. What profoundly important messages were evaporating in the ether? What if I was being blind cc’d and not knowing it?
Saturday was no better. I woke up, grabbed my Treo (I know…ancient technology) from the nightstand, and hit the “send/receive” menu. The little arrows spun and spun, but eventually conceded defeat. No connection. No connection! It’s like being told I didn’t exist!
And then somewhere Sunday morning I realized: Technology was ruling my life. I had been seduced by the siren of software — that singular song that insidiously insists one’s importance is measured in the volume of email one receives. And in one’s ability to be in constant contact…just in case.
I thought back to a time not so very long ago (okay, not so long ago for those of us who measure life in multiple decades) and wondered how we had ever managed to communicate without email. Picking up the phone seemed so 20th Century. And actually getting up from my desk and walking to a colleague’s office??? Well, I might as well be dragging a club behind me and talking in grunts and gestures.
But that’s where we’re at today. No, not grunts and gestures — but actual face-to-face conversations, or resorting to a phone dialogue that allows me to talk with a friend before launching into a tightly worded request or response. I can actually say “By the way” or laugh out loud without resorting to BTW or LOL. I’m discovering all over again the nuance of vocalization. Amazing! I don’t have to add a ridiculous emoticon when I actually talk with someone because she can tell when I’m joking or angry or teasing.
So will I give up the technology when OIT rescues our failed servers later this week? Sorry, but not a chance. This is, after all, the 21st Century and I am still seduced by the siren’s spell.