Bogged Down in the Technicalities

by Mitchell Firman

Last week, I bought a new laptop. This had been a huge fixation for me for a long time now – to give you some context, I haven’t bought a computer in over five years, so for me this was a huge technological leap into the present. The surprising thing is that there wasn’t much wrong with my old computer – a Toshiba Satellite. It still ran just fine despite all the misery I had put it through. The 200GB hard drive had been filled and wiped at least a dozen times, accidental viruses were destroyed and games far superior to my system overheated the whole thing to the point where it once needed to be covered in ice packs because I was pretty sure it would explode.

But now with this new Acer Aspire, I have become aware of my laptop’s true shortcomings. I bought this new one second-hand from a friend for $200. Nothing was wrong with it – he just felt that need to update as well. Compared to my old laptop, this one seemed like a super-computer. I was no longer waiting 10 minutes for a League of Legends game to load and no longer worrying about space requirements or the fact that it had been running on battery for more than 5 minutes. I was amazed that my Acer could clock 1MB over the Wi-Fi when I had been sure that the modem was defective. The computer was beginning to meet what I needed and not what I settled for.

Outdated technology is an ever-present ghost. I know that this has always been the way with modern electronic technology, but it’s an almost intoxicating concept. It took thousands of years for people to stop working with bronze and take up iron, and as soon as I bought my iPhone 4, I had half a year until it was obsolete. The Law of Accelerating Returns is ever-constant, as exponential growth is stacked upon exponential growth and phones get smaller and smaller while their speed gets faster and faster. As the technology we interact with speeds up, so do we.

This new laptop had engaged my senses in a way that at first seemed enlightened but now seems quite stifling. The speed was habit-forming. I sat there downloading games, music and movies with my swift connections whilst simultaneously watching Parks & Recreation and searching the Internet – an amazing feat compared to my old laptop which often grew quite irate when I did multiple things at once. Not only that – I was playing video games at optimal graphic settings.

It was consistently consuming and it was beginning to feel like the speed wasn’t enough. Soon, I was watching download bars and wandering around the house searching for the best connection. I updated all my drivers and deleted unnecessary files because it seemed like it was beginning to slow down. I was a man possessed with an obsession. I lost sleep and started to spend all my time outside of work fiddling with this Acer. I am even ashamed to admit that it slept on the bed next to me rather than on my desk. It was as if I spent more and more precious seconds being amazed by this computer rather than actually utilising it.

That is sometimes the issue with technology: we spend more time being astonished by it than making the most of its full potential. I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy, so I sat down and I detoxed. I shut myself away from technology and read and worked on other things. I returned to my old computer to write until two days ago when it blue-screened for the last time. I lost interest in the pace of things and thought I could come back to this new laptop with some temperament.

When I came back, it was with the caution of a toddler finding their feet, but I soon found my fear was misplaced. My abuse of the Acer was tempered with legitimate use as I scoured the internet for the latest news, reading, writing and studying as much as I could. It increased my productivity tenfold and I soon caught up on a lost week.

It was interesting that I became so readily obsessed over my own personnel technological advance and writing about it now is almost an extension of it rather than a discussion. But it is a discussion I need to have. As we jump forward, we sometimes jump too far.

by Mitchell Firman

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