Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Would Life Be Like?

Sometimes when I have a hard time focusing at home, I'll go to the library to work. There's also a Starbucks that I frequent, but I find I like the library better. Mainly because I don't have to buy anything in order to use their wi-fi. And also because I usually have books waiting for me on hold, so I don't have to make a separate trip to pick them up. (In fact, I'm writing this at the library. This week's book was "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan.)

Normally everything is pretty quiet at the library; there's just the murmur of the reference desk lady and the people asking her questions, click-clacking from the computer keyboards nearby, the sound of heavy books being taken off shelves and replaced with a thud. I like having the background noise. It helps me focus, so long as it's muted and not coming from a TV.

Where I like to sit, in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows.

But the other day at the library, I eavesdropped on a conversation that made me think. This old man with a grizzled beard made his way into the library, and asked the reference librarian for help because he had "never messed around with a computer before." He was trying to sell something on Craigslist, but to do that, you have to have an e-mail address; so he had to go about setting one up for the first time too. After about an hour, he gave up and left.

I can't imagine day-to-day life without a computer. I don't remember a time without computers. My parents bought their first desktop the year after I was born, more than 20 years ago. Although it was primitive compared to the computers we use today, the device has always been part of my life. I can't imagine approaching one now, having never used one, and trying to figure it out. How frustrating that must be.

But I wondered if it would really be so bad to not be so dependent on computers for everything. What might that be like?

We might have conversations face to face. We might spend more time invested in others.

We might still use maps in the car. (Let's face it, if you're bad at directions like me, having a GPS on your phone really isn't more helpful than having a map. That thing still gets me lost all the time.)

We might not be constantly connected to each other via e-mail and social media — but it would be okay, because everyone else would be out there living their lives too.

We might be filled with curious wonder, and instead of whipping out a smartphone for all our answers, we'd go down to the library and search among the books.

What do you think life would be like without computers? What technology do you think you could live without?


  1. I would feel so lost if I didn't know how to use a computer! I literally cannot imagine life without email, which makes me sad for myself hahaha. But I understand his frustration with trying to sell stuff online. I tried using eBay a few months ago and felt like such a n00b. I'm pretty sure eBay is just charging my paypal account willy-nilly and I just don't know the difference.

    1. I also tried to use eBay for the first time a few months ago! I should have tried sooner, because now I just don't understand how it works.

  2. Because phones now are just smaller computers, I can't even say that I could live without a computer. I think if I kept up with blogging, I might be able to forgo social media. I think.

  3. My FIL doesn't have a computer (and regularly makes fun of 'those machines') and he is probably more social than I am. I can't imagine being without my computer though, I love connecting to family and friends from far away!

  4. I ask myself almost daily how anyone ever got along without computers (internet, specifically). How did you know if a new restaurant was any good? How did you book hotel rooms and flights? (Did you have to use the phone? Perish the thought!) How did you learn how to curl your hair or apply liquid eyeliner? I could unplug from social networks and email, but I don't know what I'd do without most other online tools.