The Rage of the Machines

Am I technologically challenged? Perhaps. I’d prefer a blank sheet of paper and a fine-tip ink pen to a blinking cursor. The thought of having a blinking cursor constantly stare at me makes me think I’m sitting on a ticking bomb. That my head needs to process thoughts at super sonic speeds and spurt out a word at every tick. Tick. Tick. Tock. There it does it again.

I could go back to writing on a sheet of paper. But, the thought of having to type it again is not a happy one. Especially, for someone as lazy as me. And so, with a heavy heart, I became a slave to my machine. I’ve spent hours in front of that blinking cursor and blank page. Churning out words, sentences, paragraphs, and even pages. When I could no longer bear that dreaded ‘tick’, I’d turn to another greater invention – the internet. Is the internet a far greater invention than fire or the wheel? Go figure! And then someone had a brainwave of personalising the web. Now, it wasn’t just that dreaded cursor. It was personalised messages and shout-outs. On my mail, the site I browse, or even blog. ‘Howdy!How may we help?’ says someone concerned on the far right hand corner of this page. ‘Yes! I’m having a miserable day!’ But, I guess, they don’t imply that kind of help. So I choose to ignore it. In this virtual space of binary digits, lies an intelligence, far greater than I could fathom.

Roughly, a month back with the constant wet spell outside my window, I was left with a broken internet connection. It was the first of the series of events to happen. I tried to stay calm. My router had short circuited. The solution was simple. All I had to do was buy a new one. And till then, connect the cable directly to my laptop. Phew! On the following fateful Monday morning, I turned my laptop on. Again. And again. No blinking cursor. No circling dots. I stayed calm. I called customer care. After performing a routine battery drain operation, she said calmly with a slight terseness in her voice, “It’s best you take your laptop to the service centre.” I sighed. I must stay calm. Surprisingly, after handing over my machine to the service centre – I felt free. I picked a book. A fat one too. Nothing less than 1000 pages would suffice. Vikram Seth’s, ‘A Suitable Boy‘ it would be. My blank canvas called out, I picked up that sleeping brush and tried to paint graphics I browsed for on-line. Between the written word and messy black paint – I felt every bit of the trapped artist I wanted to be.

And yet, somewhere, I missed that blinking cursor. After a week without my machine – I began to feel withdrawal symptoms. The days on the calendar flew by and there was little sight of my precious machine. The motherboard is dead – they’d say. Surely, the rest was OK. And just when I’d expect it back, the battery seemed to have some problem. Two weeks was the longest that I could last without my machine. I didn’t care if they couldn’t get a new battery – I’d make do with the power-source plugged in. And when that was sorted, the internet settings had to be reset and yes, all seemed well. I was writing, listening to my music, editing pics, and occasionally stared at that blinking cursor.

Everything had come back to normal. The balance in my universe had been restored. I started believing that although physical processes might fail me, the virtual world would prove to be a more reliable system to bank on. Although, my data hadn’t been lost – the possibility had crossed my mind. And I hadn’t lost much. But, the machines had not yet given up. Two days back, our site seemed to behave funny. The primary and secondary menus disappeared and the basic design – restored to default settings. Thankfully, my posts weren’t lost. This time, I couldn’t stay calm. The site I had worked for more than a year seemed to be under some sort of attack. A regular update gone wrong? Or binary digits configuring into some sort of rebellion? Fortunately, after a few sordid minutes, I was allowed to re-configure my site. Oddly, not many could make the difference.

Currently, although my systems have been restored and configured and seem to be working just fine; my faltering faith has been shaken. It makes sense to store those blank sheets of paper, empty diaries, and odd pens or pencils. After-all, you never know what would spark the rage of the machines again.

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