On being ... complicated

By Ingrid Sapona

My dear readers, I owe you an apology. I lied in a recent column. If it makes you feel any better, I now realize that when I wrote it, I was lying to myself too. But I’m going to set the record straight -- so here goes: I’m in a love/hate relationship. It’s not healthy, I know. There are times when things are so bad that I end up tossing and turning all night, thinking about what I did wrong and why the relationship is what it is.

There are so many things about the relationship that drive me crazy, it’s hard to know where to start, but here’s one: all the ridiculous choices I’m expected to make. Half the time I don’t even understand what some of the choices are, and yet I’m forced to choose. Mind you, after all these years, I have developed some coping mechanisms. For example, I know better than to ever choose “customize”, as all that ever leads to is more questions designed to make me feel stupid.

And when I ask for help, which I do sometimes -- but usually only as a last resort -- what kind of response do I get? Well, it’s the rare response that’s helpful, let me tell you. Most responses range from gibberish to cryptic. Honestly, I think the Oracle of Delphi’s responses were easier to make sense of!

Intimidation is another hallmark of this relationship. It often takes the form of something seemingly innocuous, like stopping me mid-task and asking, “are you sure you want to continue”? I know that question is meant to strike at the very heart of my insecurity. No, I’m NOT sure -- I’m never sure when I’m asked that. Sometimes I’m brave and forge ahead, hoping that my friend Norton will jump in to help me if need be. But sometimes I stop -- dead in my tracks -- worried that if I go on, something terrible will happen and I’d be left with nothing.

And then there’s the game playing. First it was Password; lately it’s a combination of Password and 20 Questions. Really, how many times should I have to say what my mother’s maiden name was, or what my favourite movie is? Having to verify who I am all the time is hurtful. It’s a constant reminder that I can be easily confused with someone else. Until this relationship, I always thought my uniqueness had more to do with my personality than my ability to come up with -- and remember -- passwords. And to make matters worse, sometimes my choice of password is commented on and I’m reprimanded because it’s too simple or too short.

Another less-than-stellar quality this relationship brings out in me is jealousy. Oh, it’s not that I worry some teen will push me aside and take front and centre in the relationship. (I figure I don’t have much to worry about with them because they’re into more action -- Wii is the euphemism it goes by these days, so I hear.) What I’m jealous of are the few of my generation who are adventurous and interested in trying new things. That’s just not me -- and most of the time I’m not even able to fake it!

Given all these negatives, why do I stay in this relationship? Well, the simple truth is that I’ve gotten to the point that honestly I don’t know what I’d do without it. Sure, it frustrates me, but it’s given me lots and taught me things too. For example, I’ve come to realize that how I might do things isn’t the only way. Indeed, this relationship has made me more tenacious because when my way doesn’t work, I’ve learned to step back and then try a completely different approach. And, when I figure out something that had previously stumped me, my self-esteem skyrockets.

And, in fairness, I know that sometimes I’m not particularly easy to be with either. I can be very demanding and impatient. And I’m sure that sometimes my habits -- like the fact that I’ve been know to keep stuff I no longer need or that I don’t ever use -- can cause problems and slow things down.

I guess the bottom line is that over the years we’ve produced some good work together and I must admit that this relationship has enriched my life in many ways. Not only has it helped me stay connected to family, friends, readers, and clients – it’s helped me make a living without having to leave the house. Pretty cool, I know…

So you see, a couple columns ago when I talked about a how Greek lettering mysteriously appeared at the end of a column (for some, but apparently not all, readers) and I made it sound like I just shrug and take computer-related things in stride -- well, I wasn’t being truthful. The truth is -- for better or worse -- my relationship with computers is way more complicated…

© 2009 Ingrid Sapona


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