Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Virtual dementia


You know what kind of person you are when your computer breaks. At 4.45pm last Friday my two-year-old Apple Mac decided to hold my life hostage by refusing to start. Like a cyber tantrum. Or when I do it to my husband or kids, I call it ‘planned ignoring’.

So much for all that bullshit about the superpowers of Mac computers. ‘They never get viruses.’ ‘They never break.’ Well, turns out my computer was unaware of its superior status, and in one slip of the finger the stupid thing shat itself.

There were no warning signs. Maybe it had been acting strangely, I hadn’t really noticed. Looking back I guess I should have seen the signs. Like the pop-up windows that I kept closing down that told me my iCloud had floated off. I’m not a technical person. I like to pay other people to do that shit, and I just kept forgetting to deal with my cloud. I mean, how do you deal with something that doesn’t even exist? I’m a tactile person. This whole iCloud thing is like some sort of black magic that I don’t understand. Isn’t that a Rolling Stones song? Hey You? Get off my iCloud?

My printer had gone offline so I decided to employ the first line of computer-fixing wizardry and use the power switch. The turn it off, turn it on. It’s actually my only trouble-shooting skill. It generally works. I guess in human terms the mini-break from the power source constitutes a ‘holiday’ and the computer returns refreshed and ready for action.

Not my Apple crap. Unfortunately I’m an idiot and I turned my computer off at the wall instead. That’s when it decided to have a stroke. When I tried a restart I just got a loading bar that never loads. It had the shits. I wanted to cry. Machines however have no inbuilt empathy and one cannot use guilt to get them started again.

Then I wanted to smash it. Threats and coercion are also ineffective on the iMac. All my work for The Echo that week was gone. I had to do it all over. I really wanted to throw a tantrum. I didn’t. I have more self-control than I thought. I decided to get angry at my husband instead. When things are beyond your control, it really helps to be able to yell at someone, especially if they are in no way responsible for your situation.

At least I had the external drive. All my work would be backed up there. Except when I unplugged the computer I realised that although the blue power light had been flashing on the drive it hadn’t been plugged into my computer. I blame the kids.

Computer then must be driven to Lismore. It was like going to ER. We were admitted, I gave the symptoms the Applecare number (medicare for computers) and drove home feeling like a part of me had died. Well, in a way it had.

Everything I have ever written, every invoice I have sent, all my tax records, my banking, every contact I have, all my work is in that computer. It’s like having virtual dementia. I don’t know a single password. I may never online shop again. I can’t pay anything. I am now shut out of Mandy Nolan. And worse still, there are vagina jokes in there that may be unrecoverable.

Today I ring the Mac-Hospital for the prognosis. ‘Your computer is number 13 in the queue.’ That’s nearly a week since admission and it still hasn’t been looked at. My entire work life languishing in the back of a shop in Lismore. The rage was building. Turns out I’m not such a nice person after all. Computer technicians are also unresponsive to guilt and threats; however, they do respond well to cash.

So I still don’t know. Fingers crossed. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for a software upgrade when Mercury was retrograde. I am writing this on my laptop. It’s my interim device. Nothing is stored on it at all. My iMac is my alpha. He has everything. And yes, I have gendered my computer. As it’s stopped working I have decided it’s a bloke. Women cope a lot better with being turned off. It happens to us every day and we still manage to reboot.

3 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Virtual dementia”

  1. Jenny Grinlington says:

    I can so much relate to this story. My iMac randomly only turned on if it felt like it. Over a period of six months, it probably wouldn’t switch on 50% of the times I tried. My anger & frustration was directed to others around me too, but I just got vacant looks like it had to be my fault.

    But then I realised that if I took it for a drive, like a petulant child, as soon as I got to Rescuetech & plugged it in there, it would work. See you silly woman, what’s the problem!! Happened 4 times like this, went to Lismore shop as well one time, had the full monty checkup and it was perfectly ok so they said.
    So why wouldn’t it boot up every time, or better still, should I just dispatch it to the boot, was more my thinking!

    Ultimately I got a laptop to replace it, but it still sits in my office working as well as ever, it has even decided to turn on every time I try. Perhaps it needed a techie buddy to talk to, not a ranting human who appeared to be ready to throw it out the window.

  2. PJ says:

    No backup strategy? Lesson learnt I suppose. You know this is user stupidity, yet you still blame the tools. It’s like being surprised your car breaks down when you ignore it’s maintenance schedule.

  3. Claudia Rabe says:

    Oh Mandy, I love you, I love you, I love you, you are causing me so much joy!!! Thank you for your wonderful humour!!!

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