How I Barely Survived When My Hard Drive Died

Filed under: Opinions

Hard drives can die, apparently.

Mine did this week, without any warning. It's not like it had been suffering a cough for a while, or experiencing aches and pains, or giving off some other indication that it wasn't feeling well.

The entire headquarters of everything I do every single day -- my blog and advocacy work, my kids' Halloween pictures, lots of files of things I probably don't need anymore but obsessively save -- went toes up suddenly -- without even giving me a chance to say goodbye.

I suppose I should know already how much I rely on technology. My smartphone and my laptop are cherished belongings because they allow me to accomplish anything at any time and in fairly short order. In a matter of minutes, I can help a mom with postpartum depression in New Zealand, email my mom, download educational apps for the kids and order a pizza for dinner and a pair of galoshes (well, not really galoshes, but I could).

I'm so accustomed to this way of living that I've forgotten there is any other way. I sometimes go to the bank, realize I've left my ATM card at home, and then leave because I have forgotten that it is possible to conduct transactions with pen and paper. Oh yeah, I could fill out a withdrawal slip. How quaint.

My children are oblivious to how easy their lives are because of technology. My 9-year-old son asked me the other day if I had a video game player when I was young.

"Nope. No game players. We didn't even have home computers. Your dad and I didn't have a computer in the house until we were married. At that time, if you wanted to go to a website on the Internet, you had to type in the URL and then leave the computer for a while until the page loaded. And when I say a while, I mean several hours. You could go have dinner and come back and the site might not be up yet."

"What about DirecTV?"

"When I was your age we only had three channels to choose from."

"But you had cellphones, right?"

"No. If you wanted to make a call, you had to stay home and stand fairly close to a wall in order to use a phone."

He was incredulous. I can't believe it either. I used to be perfectly capable of living my life without satellite television, satellite radio, a 4G phone, printer and late-model laptop. Yet, when my hard drive died I nearly did, too, from sheer fright. I had no idea how I would get any work done.

I called my husband, crying, when it looked like things were going south. I conducted virus scans, uninstalled large programs, ran patches and tweeted anguished tweets. I wrote on my Facebook wall asking friends for emotional support. I called my mom.

And, when, after every last-ditch attempt had been made, yet the laptop wouldn't even start up anymore, I shook my fist at the sky and asked the universe "Why?!" All this, and I had a back-up. Essentially, I was freaking out over how long it would take me to restore all the files to a new computer. (It ended up taking one day.)

Last week, my husband and I instituted video game-free Wednesdays with the kids. No iPad or Nintendo DS or Sony PSP or Wii. No technology. We are already pretty good about limiting their usage to short periods on other days, but we wanted them to see that they could live without this stuff entirely since they seemed so engrossed in it.

My daughter freaked out in the car ride to school on Wednesday, screeching, "But I have NOTHING TO DO!!!"

"Look out the window," I said. "Make up a story in your head. Think about what you see outside. Relax."

Clearly I need to be taking my own advice.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.