2018-06-20 / Editorials

Too dependent on computers?

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Editor’s Note: The following column is a reprint from the June 21, 2017, edition of the News. When I first started writing, I used a spiral bound notebook. In my early teens, I used an old Underwood manual typewriter that belonged to my father, essentially teaching myself the way around the keyboard.

In high school, I got my own electric typewriter, which I used not only for my personal writing, but also for every term paper I wrote from high school through college.

When I started on the college paper, I shared an IBM Selectric with other writers. By the time I was editor as a senior, I was part of the team that moved the paper into the computer age. Suddenly, we were writing and editing on a computer screen.

A few years later, when I worked in Macon, we added computers that allowed us to designed newspaper pages on a computer screen, rather than with paper, wax machines and X-Acto knives.

At that point in my career, I only used a computer when I was at work and only when I was writing or designing. Anything else I did was done sans computer, usually using good ol’ reliable pen and paper.

I like to call those the good ol’ days.

My laptop computer — the one I use for work and personal matters — was having some issues earlier this week, and our IT guy at work took it away for several hours.

Suddenly, I realized that I can’t do anything anymore without the aid of a computer.

At work, I use the computer for all my writing and editing, for posting stories to our website, for designing ads and graphics and for pulling reports that show how many people are coming to our website and how long they are staying.

There was nothing I could do at work while IT dealt with my computer, so I went to the gym and worked out.

But it’s not just work that’s affected when the computer is down. Virtually everything I do is done on a computer.

I haven’t been inside a bank in over a year because I do all my banking and pay my bills online.

I subscribe to four newspapers. But only one — my hometown paper, the Early County News — is delivered in print form. The others I read electronically on my computer or iPad.

Late last week, I used my computer to buy tickets to both the Georgia- Notre Dame game and the Falcons-Bears game in September, buy airline tickets to Chicago and reserve a rental car to use while we’re there.

Unlike older generations who saved snapshots in an old shoebox in the closet, I save photographs digitally in a folder on hard drive. For instance, I have some 400 photo’s alone from my trip last July to the Republican National Convention.

Every column I’ve ever written is saved to my computer. I don’t think I have a single print version anywhere.

Fortunately, I’m smart enough to know that hard drives can fail. I regularly back up my files to both a portable hard drive and a flash drive, and I’m glad I do.

The IT guy brought me my computer a little while ago, but it was missing almost everything I’ve done for the last year. Fortunately, I just moved the files over from my portable hard drive, and I was back in business.

But the experience made me wonder if we aren’t too reliant on the computer.

I wonder if that old Underwood typewriter is still in my mother’s attic.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of Access WDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke @gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

Return to top