My computer died this weekend.
One minute I’m happily typing away. A moment of distraction (cursed puppy), a tip of my hand, and my just-refilled mug was upside down and all across my keyboard. And, well, that was all she wrote.
Next thing I know an Apple Genius is explaining to me why $700 is actually a very good deal to revive it. I sadly walked out of the store, head hung low, the sad Charlie Brown theme song playing in the background. (Like this.)
It was dead, and I killed it. I committed technology murder. What I’ve been feeling since this happened I can only describe as a kind of grief. I’ve actually shed tears over it.
But it’s just a piece of hardware, so what gives? I’d backed up my important documents, so I only lost a few hundred words I’d written that morning. Not so bad.
It stung a little more to remember how I’d insisted on paying the extra price for a Mac when I got my new laptop last winter, and even more because my wonderful husband, knowing I am prone to incidents like this, insisted we pay extra for a solid state hard drive, which would be more durable. And yet I still managed to fry it.
That accounted for my guilt, but not grief. It took some time to really put a face to it, but finally I realized: my laptop was not just a piece of hardware. It was my creative home. Where my ideas lived and grew. And now it’s gone.
So as miserable as this has all been, I have at least learned something from it:
The material still matters. It matters an awful lot.
We’re deeply entrenched in a world that is more digital every day. More and more of our lives are accessible anywhere, stored intangibly on the cloud. The deeper we get into the digital, the more we separate from the physical. Books aren’t books, they’re files. Newspapers aren’t newspapers. They’re articles, URLs to access and share, headlines in your RSS.
There’s nothing inherently bad about this. There’s a lot of convenience to it. But it’s a world where connection to the tactile, the physical representations of ideas, is considered outdated.
In the midst of embracing this mentality, I didn’t even realize how much my laptop had come to mean to me. The more portable we come, the thought of a “room of one’s own” to work in has become moot. We work everywhere and anywhere these days.
But my laptop, that was always the same—it’s become my modern “room of one’s own,” my personal thinking space.
We’re still tactile by nature. We experience physical space first, and then mental space. So what happens when the tactile starts to disappear?