My daemons are crashing, the computer tech said. I thought I’d misheard over the crush of the computer store, but then she repeated it. My smart phone wasn’t working because the computer daemons in it were crashing. Computer daemons are programs that wait in the background until you call them into service, sort of like the original idea of genies, or jinn, that give magical help if you have the power to call and control them. Not too far off from some of the mysterious workings of computers.
Once I was a technophobe, but as I stood there in the computer store waiting for my phone to come back to life, and I felt bereft. I couldn’t call, text, check e-mail, or . . . my hand held office was broken. I have not only embraced technology, but I have drunk deep of the technological Kool-aid. I didn’t realize how deep until the moment I stood in the buzz of the computer store and mourned my non-functioning phone.
I was suddenly a writer that couldn’t write, because I didn’t have a pen, pencil, or piece of paper to my name. I was so distressed that I left my husband to babysit the phone while I ran down to the brick and mortar bookstore to buy a pen and a notebook. I also picked up a new book to read, because I was a writer in a bookstore, come on, I had to buy a book. What book? Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which I’ve actually never read. I decided recently that I needed to fix that, and there’s no time like the present. It was somehow reassuring to hold a real book that was written long before the thought of computers, back when a writer had to have good penmanship so that his editor could read his manuscript. I admit I’m glad I don’t have to write my novels by hand, in fact, I write almost exclusively on my iPad and iPhone, and main computers now. I even take notes on my phone most of the time instead of sticky notes. I’m writing this on my iPad, while we watch, “Fast & Furious 6″ on the big screen LED TV with a Blue Ray DVD. Does anyone remember when if you wanted to watch a movie it had to be on the three, maybe four channels, that you could get on your rabbit-eared TV? The smart phone you’re holding in your hand has more computing power than the computers that sent the Apollo spacecrafts to the moon. How freaking cool is that?
How many of you remember Space Invaders, and how everyone was mesmerized by those little blips on the screen? Now the graphics on the latest games are so amazing they look like mini-movies. Would any of us have guessed how far the computer revolution would come into our homes and change the way we do not only business, but our recreation and play? E-books, electronic books are perilously close to outselling paperback books. Time spent in front of our TV and computer screens take more of our days than being outside in the real world. I know I had no idea when I watched that first rough game move jerkily across the monochrome screen what was coming, and how much of modern life was going to be so closely intertwined with it that one of the things our government fears most is an EMP, electromagnetic pulse bomb that would take out all the pretties that we use everyday.
My daemons are coming when called again, to work their spells. The magic smoke is back in the little box in my hand, and the world is strangely more firm.