Although my mother raised me with the injunction, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” I do (as does she). The exponential growth in technology permits the proportional explosion in small stuff over which to sweat. The cell phone requires endless charging. The wireless signal goes on the fritz. The dreaded ‘user ID or password is incorrect’ message appears in an appalling red.
I can deal with frailty and failure of body and mind, the real trials that face us. The inability to access a student’s application, on the other hand, or a lost set of revisions sends me into a state of shrieking incoherence.
The problem lies not only the misbehaving bytes but also technology’s tacit promise to enable endless productivity. It tempts us to say yes to more until we have bitten off more than we can possibly chew. I had a remarkably ‘productive’ summer and fall. I wrote two conference papers, a book chapter, multiple blog entries, supervised scores of applicants, and tried to hold up my end of familial responsibilities. I forgot to eat, sleep, and take my vitamins. By the time I gave my second conference paper, my body was in rebellion. My sinuses staged a protest against the state of affairs that has yet to fall silent. My overstretched schedule and sick, stressed self had even less ability to deal with inevitable technological betrayals.
I planned a recuperative winter hibernation. Hiccup in the theoretical hiatus? The office bought me an iPad….