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A typical day for my laptop and me starts with checking the news via RSS over breakfast. Then we head to the office, plug in to IM, LAN, email, etc., and do battle with work and everything that comes up at work. Whenever the business day ends, it’s off to home, where Lappy provides dinner music (wirelessly connecting to the stereo with AirTunes), hangs out by the sink showing videos (to make washing dishes less of a chore) and helps me finish a few work things (from the comfort of the couch). Finally we go to bed, and enjoy movies or TV before shutting down for the night. It’s a blissful existence we have---or I should say had. Because the Christmas Crash really fucked things up.Ole Lappy’s harddrive bit the dust right after The Coast shut down for the holidays. Not bad timing as far as work goes, and because I’d just done one of those sporadic, I should-do-this-more-often backups, I didn’t panic immediately. Plus, I could get online with the household’s other laptop, maintaining contact with the rest of the world. Until I killed that computer, too. My geek cred took a further hit when I broke two new digital cameras---gifts my nephew and sister-in-law received for Christmas.The trail of battered plastic-and-metal bodies was a message, but I couldn’t hear it. I just wanted my computer back---to feel connected and productive again. If only I’d listened. Lappy got out of the hospital a couple weeks ago, early in the new year. We had one day together, then Lappy’s motherboard fried. I haven’t seen Lappy or heard more than “We’re waiting on that part from Apple” since. Back at work, I’m using an old turquoise iMac that no one else around the office wants. It’s a relic of an era when big and curvy and colourful were tech sexy. It’s from before the Twin Towers fell, before Steve Jobs pulled the world’s thinnest laptop out of an envelope. My “new” computer isn’t Lappy. It stays on the desk when I go home, and even after weeks together, I’m not getting too familiar with it. Lappy was a hot rod of productivity, tricked out with a zillion software bells and whistles to help me type faster, send an instant message faster, check on my Facebook friends faster. And we were always on the lookout for new gizmos, so we were always getting even more productive. I don’t bother to try and tweak the old iMac. But that slow, fossilized machine might be tweaking me. I can’t remember passwords to connect with Digg or Twitter, I’ve forgotten all about sites my RSS reader kept me on top of, I don’t have a decade of Coast-related email and documents at the tip of my finger. I go to work and just deal with what’s on my plate as best I can. And the rest of life is managing, all by itself, to fill in the gaps where the computer used to be.This Well Being Guide issue of The Coast is focused on anxiety, depression and compulsion, a gamut I went through in miniature, fretting about Lappy. If someone was trying to tell me something about the pitfalls of technological obsession, I’ve finally heard it. (“At a certain point, you’ve got to trust the messages from the phenomenal world,” is how a prominent member of the local Buddhist community put it, when I was still moping about a crashed computer.) I thought I was building a hot rod of efficiency and connectivity with Lappy, but now it’s looking more like a combination casino/Unabomber’s cabin, where I was getting increasingly detached from flesh-and-blood contact, while betting each new piece of software or socializing site would improve my life. By losing the whole thing, I might have hit the jackpot.


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