Me and My Computer: A Toxic Relationship

As far as I’ve ever been concerned, computers and general technological work have been a source of constant struggle and frustration. The first computer I ever owned, at the ripe age of five, was a 1999 Dell Dimensional. Bought at a neighbor’s garage sale, this piece of machinery is probably in a museum now, regarded as the slowest and most nonfunctional computer in history. This computer (which was sans internet due to my parents’ legitimate fear for me and my two brothers surfing the web precariously), was used primarily for the applications Microsoft Word and Paint. The fond memories I have of this technological masterpiece we dubbed the “Kid’s Computer” (because of it’s lack of operation and primary users being myself and my two brothers), are predominantly comprised of me spending the entirety of my allotted thirty minutes hitting the side of the monitor, slamming on the keyboard, and screaming just about every bad word I knew to really let the computer know how I felt. As you can probably imagine, having this be the start to my relationship with computers was not especially beneficial, as well as super annoying to my poor parents.

To get an image of what this bad boy looked like

In the fourteen years following, I have learned little about computers. I have always tried to avoid extensive use of these elusive machines. For the most part, my computer’s sole operation has been for online shopping. This strategy worked well for me for a while, but proved to be incredibly difficult, and quite frankly very frustrating, to maintain when I started college. In my first semester of collegiate education, my laptop was mainly used for Microsoft Word and Google. Microsoft Word to type up important papers, and Google when I didn’t know how to perform a certain function in Microsoft Word. Whenever I needed assistance beyond Google, I would contact a close friend of mine (who builds computers for fun) or bother the associates at Milne Library’s CIT Help Desk for hours.

It was in a physics lab when I realized I couldn’t keep up this inability, and truthfully, fear to use extensive computer functions forever. In this lab, we were required to enter several data sets into Microsoft Excel and produce multiple different graphs and tables. While our lab instructor did walk us through basically every step, the lesson was fast paced (assuming that most people of college-age have used Excel before, a fair assumption to make), and apparently easy for me to miss one step and become completely lost. I called the instructor over to my desk a total of eleven times that day. Eleven times. I asked myself the question, “Is it acceptable to cry during a lab out of confusion and frustration?” About an hour in, I found that my personal answer was indeed: yes. After this incident that I’ve deemed the “Excel Debacle”, I concluded that I needed help. I want to work as an English teacher after graduating college, and in today’s ever changing technological world, it is essential that I learn basic functionality with computers.

While browsing Geneseo’s course catalog for the 2019 Spring semester, I came across this class: ENGL 340: Lit & Lit Study in the Digital Age. I didn’t know quite what this meant but knew that it would most likely have something to do with computers. This fact, of course, intimidated me. However, having known Dr. Schacht from a previous course, I knew that his passion for technology and indefinite willingness to assist his students may just be exactly what I need in my journey to learning how to use my computer more efficiently.

Upon entering said course, I learned quickly that I would learn much more than basic computational functions. In fact, our introduction to this course was focused heavily upon the “digital aspect of the humanities”. My instinct was to question this. Being a life-long lover of the humanities, and self-proclaimed humanist, I was dumbfounded by the correlation between the digital age and the humanities. How could something with such a strong focus in before computers were even a thought harmonize with the digital world? Throughout the introductory weeks of this course, I have learned the basic association between these two elements. Humanists are essential to technology in order to give humanistic meaning to the mathematics and computing that works behind the scenes in computers. However, I am admittedly still unclear of the deeper meaning of the connection of these elements. Nevertheless, I am excited about the prospect of what this class, Lit and Lit in the Digital Age will teach me about both the inner workings of my computer, as well as the humanistic relationship to the digital age. Hopefully, after the conclusion of this course, Geneseo’s CIT employees will be seeing a lot less of me!

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