Losing my mind — and all my files

How digital technology ruined my life for 38 minutes

I recently installed the new MacBook OS X update that’s been haunting my desktop alerts for the past five weeks. As some of you may have experienced, this update — through an absolutely unforgivable blunder by Apple — gives users the immediate impression upon rebooting their laptop that every single one of their files has vanished into cyberspace, never to be heard from again.

I realized instantaneously the severity of this situation. Being the stupid college student I am, I have never committed to a long-term relationship with a hard drive. Losing my files and applications, as all of you should easily comprehend, was the end of life as I knew it. I cannot college without my computer — yes, I am henceforth making “college” a verb, because quite frankly, it’s an adaptation to the English language every student needs — and my computer is virtually useless sans files.

I would have lost all my notes and, quite frankly, I am not clever enough to pass my courses without the genius, if occasionally dull, insight of my professor — they design the final exams, after all. I would have lost all my “little diddles,” as I call them, on my Notepad App. These diddles, numbering more than 150 by my rough estimate, are the product of two years’ worth of mulling and piddling; they are the rough ideas for all my columns and the quick one-liners of humor my brain spouts from time to time.

I am not a writer who can consistently spout out clever, comical lines in the middle of a column or essay. When funniness is in short supply, I just browse through Notepad until I find a quip that fits the situation. I am a fraud, but I would be a fraud regardless; I might as well be a funny fraud.

So, what did I do upon discovering my data had been erased? I sank into the most shameful of psychological spirals and sobbed hysterically on my bed for 10 minutes. Then, as is wont to happen when I get upset, my misery and woe solidified into fury and tempestuousness. My computer ruined my collegiate dreams? Fine, I shall ruin my computer. But how?

Burn it? No, I’d set off the fire alarm and everyone in Bice would hate me even more than they hate the guy who plays his electric guitar six hours a day.

Throw it on the ground and skewer it with my stilettos? Promising, but I’d probably wind up breaking my ankle instead of the laptop.

Chuck it out the window with all the force my twiggy little arms can muster? Now, that’s a plan. I could always hurl my remaining hopes and dreams with it, because essentially, erasing all my data erased any chance I had at completing my classes for the semester.

Once my MacBook was sufficiently punished, I would proceed to withdraw from U.Va. for the rest of the semester. I could then withdraw from any human contact for the rest of always and burrow into a hole with a stone tablet above my hibernation hideaway reading, “Here lies the vestiges of a once-promising college student; may she rest in shameful, silent peace. Leave orange soda and Sudoku, all ye who take pity on this abject excuse of a human.”

And then I realized my Media Studies professors are right: we are entirely too dependent on digital technology. How pathetic is it that I rely so heavily on a hunk of aluminum? I don’t need Microsoft Office. I don’t need a map application. I don’t even need social networking sites.

I am perfectly capable of writing my notes in an actual notebook instead of my MacBook, and I could always buy a tangible map. I could even purchase two carrier pigeons and use them to keep in touch with friends; I might name them Bill and Chingy, as any respectable pigeon owner would do.

But then again, digital technology has proven its indispensable worth in more ways than would fit in an entire edition of The Cavalier Daily. I love my MacBook Pro. I love our relationship … which is why I was beyond thrilled to discover it had not erased my files, after all, and had merely hidden them for the span of 38 minutes. What a relief! I would have really hated paying Bice to replace my shattered window after launching my laptop through the pane.

All in all, the entire ordeal prompted me to think extensively on the role of digital media in my intellectual and emotional development. So maybe, had my files truly been erased, I wouldn’t have withdrawn for the semester because I have clearly learned EXACTLY what “Intro to Digital Media” is trying to teach me. Can I just submit this article for my midterm essay? No? Dangit.

Published February 11, 2014 in Life

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