Saturday, January 30, 2010

Death of a Laptop: Experiences of a Digital Immigrant

Sometimes I do not think we come to realize just how dependent on something or someone until it is gone. There’s that cliché again, but it adequately captures this morning when I opened my laptop to discover the LCD panel was damaged. For now, I have set aside how it happened because there is no explanation. It worked fine last night, but somehow during the night the screw holding the panel in place came loose and caused the computer, well,  it really doesn’t matter, the computer is dead.

What this incident brings to mind in general is how dependent I have become on technology in general and my laptop specifically. I would get up in the mornings and just boot it up to read email, catch up on blogs, tweet, and sometimes browse my handful of regular sites. These actions have become a regular part of my morning routine, and I did not even think about it. I just did it. Our students are now the same way. The difference between themselves and myself lies somewhere in the fact that I can remember life without Internet, laptops, blogs, and Twitter and they cannot. Our lives were infiltrated by these technologies and their lives have been inseparable from these. Yet, I know I felt the same momentary sense of loss they must feel when connections from these technologies are severed in their lives. It is the same feeling I used to get when, as a child, the TV set failed to operate and suddenly the family was thrown into finding some other way to amuse themselves. We turned to books, newspapers, games, radio, LP records, or even conversation. Suddenly, we found ourselves face to face without the TV, and nothing to do. Some of my fondest family memories are when all seven of us sat around the living room listening to the radio, telling stories, or playing games.

This morning when I faced the death of my laptop, just a for a moment, felt that same loss from many years ago, and I also felt that same longing for family that I had in those broken-television-days. I wanted, for just a moment, to engage in the same “family time” from a long time ago. That feeling went away very quickly as I reached for my Aspire Netbook bag, and it was long gone by the time I had the power source plugged in and my Acer was booting up. Now all I could think about was what kind of laptop was I going to purchase to replace my HP? Perhaps I was engaged in digital native thinking rather than digital immigrant thinking.

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