Crash crisis

Published 12:52 am Sunday, January 22, 2012

By Gillan Pollock

I wrote a piece for today’s paper that went into the black abyss of my computer’s memory. While working on it, a worm infiltrated my computer. One of my spyware programs found the virus, warned me and isolated it.

Wahoo! Disaster averted I thought; I was wrong. My computer was indeed sick, and so it went off to the computer hospital for virus removal.

This hospital stay has led me to think about how dependent I have become on my computer. It is the means by which I write my columns and where all my photos of my children live. My computer affords me the ability to spend countless hours, when tallied up, surfing the World Wide Web, connecting with “friends” on Facebook, reading current events and playing games. I never have to use a cookbook anymore because any recipe is right there at my fingertips. I can self-diagnosis my conditions or children’s ailments just by typing a word in the Google search box. I can find the answer to anything I so desire right there in that black box. I think it may, in fact, be my best friend.

But while spending all this time at the computer, what am I not doing? Maybe I am not sitting reading with my kids, reading a good book of my own or conversing with my husband. Maybe I am not doing laundry or getting down and dirty into some project or other in the house that is quietly calling my name. It’s not that these things are any less important; it’s just that they are my realities, and, sometimes, I wish to escape them.

While my computer has been sick, I have had to find other things to do with my time. I started a book and have been prepping for a wall-papering project. And, miracles of miracles, my kitchen is actually clean. I have been getting all my dishes done and not letting stuff pile up on countertops, my desk or the kitchen table. I have had some time to clean up after myself because I haven’t been sitting in front of that computer screen instead.

Overall, I have had a productive week, talked to several friends on the phone rather than email and texting and even reacquainted myself with the “Joy of Cooking” cookbook that has been collecting dust on its shelf.

I guess I am realizing that rather than truly being a help to me, that black box is a bit of a hindrance. I would rather be in relationships with my family and friends in person than through that computer. I would rather talk to someone on a phone than send an email. I would rather hold a photo of my children printed on a piece of paper than worry about never seeing that image again because it is lost to a computer virus. I would rather open my grandmother’s cookbook and find a page all dirty and stained because she used that recipe all her life.

So, when my computer is well again, I am sure my kitchen will be a mess and my desk piled one-mile high, but I will try to hold fast to the memory of the time my computer crashed. I don’t wish a virus on anyone’s computer, but I think we all should re-evaluate the relationships we have with our computers; hopefully, mine will be a bit healthier upon its return.

A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.