Disconnection a benediction

May 25, 2010
By

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I was never the early adopter of whizz-bang geek technology that some of my colleagues have been over the years.

In fact, I didn’t even own a computer until just 12 years ago.

Since then, I’ve become one of those web-addicted geeks with a computer-screen tan and too many email accounts. I might not have delved into the world of computer ownership until Window 95 was well advanced but now, my computer is an important part of my daily life.

It has its good points: last week I was able to easily comparison shop for flights to Christchurch, gasp in horror at the $930 return cost for two of us to fly to the garden city for the weekend, and instead decided we should drive to Queenstown and fly from there with Jetstar for a mere $200-ish.

I was also able to book our hotel and sort it all out on Google Maps. I still managed to get lost at the airport, but my lack of geographical logic is one of my special talents.

One of the other good points of the web is instant communication: whether through email, Skype, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or something a touch more random, like Chatroulette.

Interestingly, that instant communication can also be one of the worst aspects of this technology because there are times when you don’t want to be available.

Yes, you can block people on most social networking sites and you don’t have to answer that email in your inbox, but a quick informal survey of friends and workmates shows that most of us don’t do that.

Instead, we allow what should be something that makes our life easier to invade our time, often blurring the lines between work and home.

Maybe that’s what all those XT network outages were about: perhaps instead of sticking us with a dodgy network, Telecom is a caring company that is simply trying to stop work phone calls interrupting the home life of thousands of Kiwis.

And maybe that’s why I regularly have a delay of anything from three hours to three days for voice messages on my cellphone: it’s Telecom’s way of ensuring I’m not disturbed.

What can I say; I’m one of life’s deluded optimists.

Small DiskBe careful out there, the Facebook scams are still happening. I’ve been getting a dozen or more “reset your password” emails most days during the past week. Remember, the Facebook dudes won’t send you an email asking for your password, the scammers will.

Ditto for banks and Trade Me.

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