Once there was a man

Reading time: 3 mins

The man was once a boy, and that boy remembers sitting in front of a large cream box which had a keyboard of mainly dark keys with a row of red ones at the top. He wasn’t sure why the television people had made such a thing but he enjoyed watching the items on screen move under his control.

A few years later that same boy was sat in front of a grey box which had a little smiley face on the screen when you turned it on. It made funny noises and took small rigid discs into a slot on the front just under the screen and had a keyboard and a mouse, all in the same colour. It had a little brightly coloured logo on the front and he remembers that the entire operating system fitted onto a floppy disc (an oddly named item that, by that time, was no longer floppy).

He used similar beige boxes for a few years and before he knew it he was working in an office and was using one all the time. It was grey and had was a little different to the ones the boy had used for all those years. He soon learned how to use it as it wasn’t that different from all the other ones he’d used before, although it was a little more confusing, even more so when a few months later he got a new thing for it which was even more different. But then it was 1995.

Since then the boy has finally realised he is a man, and until recently has stuck with those same kinds of computers, the one he uses at work was the same as the one at home and he learned many tricks to using it efficiently. He continues to use it at work and at home, but now he also has a different type of computer at home, one which reminds him of those early days and the smiley face and coloured logo. When he got the new computer he was quite excited, and spent a little too much time just faffing about with it but now he’s settled down and both the new computer and his old computer exist side-by-side happily.

However in the past few months the boy who is now a man has realised something. It’s not a new thought, and he’s pretty sure the purchase of the new computer put it to the back of his mind for a while, but he’s realising that these boxes, with all their wonderous capabilities, are starting to bore him. It may be what he is doing with them that is the problem, perhaps he is stuck in a rut and needs to reconsider how he spends his time but he now looks at his computers and sees what they really are, tools.

He wonders if he is bored of these things. Bored with staring at them all day, bored with how he uses them, and he wonders if he should put them away or embrace them fully and explore their hidden depths. He knows he will always come back to them regardless, but perhaps now is the time to refocus, rethinking and reconsider.

He wonders if he will ever return to the glee of seeing his first pixels dance across the screen, he wonders if this is a temporary lull like the ones before him, he wonders why he continues to return to this thread, suggesting there is something deeper, a fundamental realisation he has yet to grasp.

He decides to stop for now and wait and see what happens as, the boy now knows, time helps everything.

16 comments

  1. Funny that. I’ve had computers around me constantly since my first, a C64 (which I still have) – I’m not counting the Pong clone that I had years before that (and also still have), although I guess it performed many of the same functions (imput -> processor -> output). But they don’t excite me in the same way any more – you can tell by the way that I used to keep redesigning my websites and updating them more often than I do now.

    Some things do excite me though. I was playing with plants years before I had a computer (I had a patch of garden before I had Pong). I’m 37 now and have probably been messing with plants for 35 of those years. And I still get a kick out of it. I’ve just been out to deliver Tom to his grandparents for the day and popped in to a garden centre on the way home, partly for business-related research and partly to see what I might get for the garden. I came away with a bunch of dusky Ipomoea and I’m pleased as punch. So, for me, it’s food, plants and my family – but not computers any more.

  2. Not much to say on the actual content of this entry, although I do understand what you mean. I wonder where my computer mojo has gone when i hear others in the office talk about tinkering with Linux or doing some programming in their spare time and i’m left thinking that I want to be like that, but I don’t have the motivation to actually go do it.

    Anyway, i was leaving a comment to say that I really enjoyed your style of writing in this post. Reminds me of something… πŸ™‚

  3. graybo – that fits, in that I’m currently trying to rediscover my book reading mojo. Nice plant too…

    K – yeah I used to be one of those but gave up trying to find the motivation. That said I do go through spells of working a lot on ‘other stuff’ (websites mainly) but right now I’m glad I don’t have much on the go.

  4. “He wonders if he is bored of these things. Bored with staring at them all day, bored with how he uses them, and he wonders if he should put them away or embrace them fully and explore their hidden depths. He knows he will always come back to them regardless, but perhaps now is the time to refocus, rethinking and reconsider.”

    G, I’m freaked out… it’s like you plucked that thought right out of my head. I’m not sure what it is I’m going to do about it, but something in my gut tells me change is needed.

  5. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I used to be the kind of guy who would write programs in his free time, but not any more. Haven’t done it for weeks, in fact.

    I find that I go through phases where I use the computer a lot, and then I go through phases where I avoid it as much as possible. I have phases where I watch films, and then I have phases where I don’t. Phases where I read books, phases where I don’t. Computer games, don’t. Watch TV, don’t. Work in the garden, don’t. Drink beer, don’t. Play my bass, don’t. Clean the kitchen floor, don’t. Floss teeth, don’t. Blog, don’t.

  6. I know exactly how you feel. I miss that feeling I used to get, the excitement of just sitting down in front of a computer and seeing the command line or the loading screen or that new game pop up. I remember when just the idea of typing away on a keyboard was interesting. When I was really young, I made a keyboard from a block of wood and pretended to use it when I didn’t have access to the Vic-20.

    As a side note, the ‘floppy’ in floppy disk actually referred to the thin magnetic storage film that was encase inside the disk, not the casing itself…

  7. Well, you hit the nail on the head (sorry) with the “tool” comment. You’ve spent a long time being fascinated by process – by how the tool works – but you’ve reached a point where that no longer satisfies.

    It’s a bit like finally realising that ultimately a car is just a machine that gets you from A to B – and that you can’t think of anywhere you want to go. Maybe consider your broader aspirations and how can this tool help you to achieve them.

  8. Yeah, but you didn’t did you πŸ˜‰
    I’ll consider myself remindered then.
    I recommend cold baths and keeping your legs crossed, just in case though…

  9. Best post ever…

    Yep and the thing is all round the UK people stare at their boxes, we dont do anything with them now… we dont engineer, program, innovate…

    We write, present, educate but for what?

    The next series of power stations in the UK will need british workers, to clean the toilets and serve food to the people who hav not been killed by the box…

    Very pink floyd..wall’ish…

    Me Likes, Me also sees that UK hyas a lot of boxes, boxes are cheap, boxes no fun, time to change…..

  10. By the way time does not help anything, if anything time is the one thing that brings things to an end, it destroys, accelerates decay, its time that we all fight against, not wait for it to dictate how subservient we should be to its command.

    Time took away your pleasure, replaced it with realisation, time becons you to look further into your life and your future, time taunts you like death itself.

    Time is no great healer.

    Think ill go to bed now……

  11. Um, me and languages, except not quite the same. Loved, still do, languages and studied them and was always heartbroken when I gave new meanings to the word ‘flunk’.
    It took me AGES to get to the concept that you used the word ‘tool’ for: I faffed about being pretentious and ended up calling it a ‘means to an end’.
    I do love my languages: they get me places, I can chat to folk, I can communicate, I can work at the same level in German as I can English… but I’ll be buggered if I can ever pass exams on a bloody foreign language.
    Once I realised I can use my languages to DO other things: that you can do languages WITHOUT ‘doing’ languages, that’s when I started to get happy.
    We had the same first beige box as you – plugged into a tape recorder, ‘Elite’ took an hour to load up… I think that early introduction has given my brothers and I an ‘intuitive’ grasp of computer software which some people don’t seem to have, so I have worked at desks ‘troubleshooting’ happily enough. But I have always realised that for me they were a tool, I just couldn’t apply that concept beyond that point, perhaps because it was intuitive while languages weren’t – I just liked them and wanted to be able to use them.
    This is probably no help at all, but it really is a beast to sort out in the head, but once you have worked out what the sort of categories are that your head is working with, it sort of becomes easier. Have to sort of work out what you want to do, and separate that off from what you can do, and then find out how they map onto onto another. Clear as mud. Best of luck.

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