How did we manage without the computer? Pen and ink of course, later ball point pens, reams of paper, typewriters, erasers, correction pens and we were all set. I’ve carried my writing book to doctors’ waiting rooms, trains, airports and kept a pad and pen in the car! With the computer, the drudgery is literally off penning several drafts. Now it is a question of cut, paste and delete, and viola there’s a neatly typed manuscript in the font of your choice. But what we don’t realise is that the workload is on the rise. Expectations are increasing, you are expected to perform in a relatively short time, shorter deadlines have to be met and communication either through social networking, or email is all instant, where conference calls are the need of the moment, and you don’t have to leave your office or your chair to discuss serious issues with your colleagues.
And there is Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. “c’mon ya, how else will you reach out to friends across the globe?” And you don’t have to be a computer nerd for that. Well, the result is that the mind goes on an overdrive. According to researchers at the University of California, the average computer person consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person did in 1960.
The experts tell us that you could have loss of vision due to over excitement of the ocular nerve by screen frequency or due to EMF entertainment. Your tendons could get inflamed, and you could have skeletal, wrist and elbow disorders. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common computer disease, and how about DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) due to lack of circulation. One has to remember to blink at regular intervals and shift your position in the chair, stand up and walk to avoid just that. What I dislike intensely is the anti social atmosphere it creates. You visit your children and they are so informal with you that they sit with the laptop and attend to matters much more important than you. No need for an office, as they can work in any room in the house, even the bathroom, and repeatedly send out messages through email or the cell phone. And their children who are computer geeks themselves, presumably “read a lot” through Kindle or I pads. When you talk to them they don’t hear, not intentionally of course but because they have tiny ear phones plugged into their ears where they are listening to pounding music. The way they are multi-tasking is amazing, they can work on the computer at the same time have a cell phone glued to the ear and nod appropriately when you talk in a dreary monotone!
Never mind if you try to tell them that multi-tasking on computers and digital gadgets affect the way information is processed. With the onslaught of information coming in you can digest it anywhere, in your pocket, in the car or even in the bathroom. Even if we sit on ergonomically designed chairs, nature did not intend us to sit in them for a major portion of the day crunching numbers, filling in IT entries, writing accounts using Tally and detailing administrative work without side effects!
When I look at my library of books, among them my dog eared collection of cookbooks, some of them treasured acquisitions over generations, I sigh because there will be no takers. My granddaughters say they can with typing a few words, get any recipe, and with You Tube to boot with demos so you can’t make a mistake. The Dictionary is getting obsolete, for the computer fills in most effectively. All those heavy Readers Digest books on how to find the Right Word, the Thesaurus and other heavy books which occupied shelf space can now be dispensed with.
Though the computer is among my most priceless possessions as it contains years of research and writing, I swear to myself that I will not become a slave to the machine and thereby lose my social skill and have a congested gridlock brain that is either frazzled or numb!