Lo-Tech, Hi-Dependence

When it comes to modern communications, I am the least hi-tech person I know. I don’t own a smart phone or a tablet. I make all my phone calls on a landline and don’t even have wireless internet, relying on a plug-in modem instead. Despite this, being housebound, I am dependent on technology in a way that healthy people are not. Online banking and shopping are less a question of convenience for me as a matter of necessity. To put it simply, without internet access, I don’t eat.

So when my laptop recently had to be sent away for repair, leaving me unable to access my bank account, order groceries or continue with any distance learning or computer-based volunteer work I tried to impress on the repair shop just how urgently I needed my computer returned. Their initial response was that it would take two to three weeks, maybe more and when I told them that I simply couldn’t be without a computer that long, they responded that every customer tells them that, and I’d just have to join the queue. Unlike their other customers however, I can’t get to a bank or supermarket in person and can’t use internet-cafes or public library computers to access the internet.

Given I’m always home within reach of the laptop, and have too few friends left to make a mobile contract worth bothering with I’ve never had much need of the kind of high-tech gadgetry most of my friends and family own. In the eight years that I’ve been housebound I am lucky never to have had any serious problems with my laptop that prevented me getting on-line for more than a couple of days but having to explain to a disbelieving computer technician that this laptop really is the only internet-capable device I own (not even my ancient, stuck-together-with-Sellotape, pay-as-you-go mobile phone has functioning internet anymore) made me realise just how preposterous it is that someone so dependent on internet access doesn’t have a second net-capable device.

There is a common assumption that people who are chronically ill spend most of their time chillaxing on the sofa watching day time TV (several  friends in the past have expressed envy at me for it). While that may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true of me. The incessant bombardment of noise, bright lights, rapid movement and cognitive stimuli can be an exhausting combination, but even if I were well enough to watch TV for hours on end I wouldn’t choose to. While a day in front of the telly might appeal to those who are rushed off their feet with family and work commitments, the novelty wears of very quickly when you aren’t well enough to do the kind of things that TV normally provides a welcome break from. Unable to even start my Christmas shopping or get on with writing Christmas cards when all my addresses are stored on the computer, it took less than an hour of flicking between Loose Women and Bargain Hunt for me to come close to losing my sanity.

As a result of going three weeks without groceries, and no better way to pass the time than to watch nauseatingly clichéd Christmas films, I have therefore concluded it is high time I drag myself into the twenty-first century and buy a smart-phone or tablet in the January sales. If after Christmas my resolve should waver and I try to back out of it, feel free to threaten me with back to back episodes of Jeremy Kyle and nothing but porridge in the cupboards for another day or so. I guarantee it will have me typing “smartphones” into Google in less time than it would take you to pass me the TV remote.

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6 Responses to Lo-Tech, Hi-Dependence


  2. Hi Sarah! I do sooo sympathise with the attitudes of the techies, A year or so ago, we had mega-problems with our internet provider which took weeks to sort out. We have hardly any phone signal here – I can get one hanging out of the bedroom window if I’m lucky! – and there is no café, etc that I know of in this area that has free wifi. Every time I spoke to Demon about it (and I spent hours and hours on the phone), they said “can’t you pick up your emails on your phone?”, or ” you just need to take your laptop to Starbucks”. There was no way that I could get across to them that my home internet connection was my only way of connecting to the web. Once, I’d already been through the “I haven’t got a phone signal” routine, and the young man on the other end of the phone asked me to unplug the landline phone from the socket. “How am I going to speak to you?” I ask. “Give me your mobile number and I’ll ring you back” I don’t know how I stopped myself screaming “WHAT PART OF ‘I HAVEN’T GOT A PHONE SIGNAL DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND??!!’ I think these people just live in their little tech bubbles and have no concept of other people’s lives whether it’s people in rural areas or disabled and housebound people.

  3. bertieandme says:

    I could have written this myself! I find technology so confusing and stressful with all the updating and virus threats and going wrong constantly that I have as little of it as possible. I llive in a very rural area, 7 miles to my nearest shop or civilization, and totally rely on my laptop for food, banking etc. as you do. If it ever conked I don’t know what I’d do, as I only have a PAYG mobile with a virtually non-existent signal! I keep meaning to get a tablet, then put it off cos I can’t stand the thought of having to learn how to use it 😉 Really must get into teh 21st century next year!!

  4. vjearle says:

    Thanks for sharing your story – what a nightmare! I have three devices – my laptop (for writing, banking, ordering, etc), an ipad (for game apps, ibooks, etc.), and a cellphone. These are my lifelines, and if one is not working, I have the others to fall back on. Like you t.v. is too much, so it is nice to be able to change it up with the different devices. At the moment, I can only read limited amounts, so I listen to books on tape through audible.com. I have a DVD player in my computer for music or movies if I’m so inclined. I am not a techie either, but the more I use, the less daunting it seems. Good luck with your New Year purchases.

  5. megrumble says:

    I never learned to text. I only got a mobile phone 2 years ago, and I was too ill to get it, my 78 year old Dad got it for me. I am now considering getting a smartphone for the same reason as u – worrid that computer might break plus sitting at the main computer worsens my FMS pain.

    Mobile phones are for people who are able enough to get out of the house and have a some sort of social life. Us with ME.

    I was wondering what you volunteer to do on the computer.

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