Off the Grid

At the time of this writing, my office recently underwent (or, more accurately, suffered through) an email conversion. There was nothing wrong with the old email system, at least as far as I was concerned. My email was working just fine and, being the type of person who prefers to leave things alone, I agreed to the email conversion under protest. It was only after much consternation, cajoling, and pressure from my business partner and the computer vendor that I reluctantly agreed to change to an updated system. Having experienced many, many prior email and computer conversions, I knew there would be problems, despite being assured my fears were unfounded. (Thus far, in the 40 or so years I have been working with computers and relying on computer technicians, I have experienced problems 100% of the time when undergoing any type of software or hardware conversion. I had no reason whatsoever to expect this time would be different and, of course, I was right.) I requested that nothing of mine be deleted and further, that everything be done with minimal involvement by me. Things, of course, did not go according to plan. Although the computer technicians are happy the new email system is working, I am far from happy about the way it is working. In fact, because the workings of my computer, iPad, and iPhone are interwoven, all three of these devices were rendered completely useless, for two weeks, by the new, but not improved, email system. Things became so bad that I decided to “go off the grid” for a few days until they could be mostly fixed. (I say “mostly” due to the fact that, with each passing day, I discovered another problem that did not exist prior to the conversion.) Going off the grid was fun! For the first time in many years, I had entire days to myself! There was no way anyone could call me, email me, text me, instant messenger me, or contact me, in any way. No one knew where I was, what I was doing, or if I decided to take a nap during the middle of a work day. Freedom was briefly mine! David thinks I should look on the bright side more often than I do, so, I will conclude by saying the computer nightmare David and I have recently endured had a positive effect of allowing me to go off the grid for a while. It was truly liberating!

For the record, there were a number of reasons that the email system needed to be updated.  But, in general, as “rigged” as our old system had become, it was working and, like Melissa, I am always apprehensive about making changes.  I am not “afraid of change,” but will admit to being “afraid of chaos” – something which often ensues when one tinkers with what is working, more or less. But, it seems that the software makers often force users to change in the name of “improvements” – some of which are, at best, dubious improvements.  In any event, as this conversion progressed, Melissa’s tolerance for the resulting chaos was at its usual low level, and as she described, she went off grid.  This reduced us, for a few days, to hand writing notes, of all things!  And, I think that is the intended point of her post.  In some ways, we don’t realize how dependent we are on technologies, things that seem as simple as email or as common today as a smart phone or tablet.  These things are far from simple, of course, but they are ubiquitous.  As an entrepreneur in small business, I have not gone off the grid completely since I started using a simplex radio telephone and pager in about 1986.  Sure, I’m off the grid while airborne, though I know I could connect.  And, I’ve had limited access to these technologies from time to time when traveling to remote locations, foreign or domestic (an experience in rural Georgia last year pointed out that there are still unconnected places). But, Melissa took her disconnection as a welcome break and enjoyed some slightly more peaceful and quiet times while I worked with the tech team to get her back on the grid.  As frustrating at doing that was for me, she seemed to enjoy it!

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