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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

When technology goes against my way: an existential crisis

When the words, beginning with “your PC ran into a problem” appear on the screen, I know that it is yet another struggle with technology.

“Miss, please turn off your computer and close your tray table. The plane is taking off in five minutes.” I looked up at the flight attendant’s smile, gave a sad last look at the document that I was working on, and shut the computer reluctantly. “Please check before shutting down your computer—there are programs that are still running.” Ignore; shut down; yes, I am sure.  

Without even bothering to read the same old directions on my recently damaged, yet still-functioning computer that fell off the table, I knew that my beloved computer, my most intimate friend and what controls all my secrets and fantasies, was, as usual, going through the typical security checks before giving itself a rest. Why aren’t computers like humans—flexible and reasonable?  

Another forced shut-down; another rush to a new destination. When I used the same muscle on the same finger to deliver my message to my non-intellectual computer, I was caught up by an intense feeling of familiarity the familiarity of not only muscle memory but also of my restless nerves and always-rushing state.  

I recalled when I had grown used to clicking the same buttons on the screen— maybe after I am finally able to finish three hours of Zoom classes; maybe when my parents would ask me to go outside to pick up a package. I would just slam the computer shut, leave it in a forgotten corner in the house, all while pulling my mind back from wherever it roamed. The classic turning-off-the-computer gesture—without care, tender, or grace—and yes, I did it again on the plane, but this time I was not very lucky. 

As soon as the plane reached the sky, I opened my computer mechanically, pressing the start button a couple of times to make sure that the machine copies my order. This time, however, I faced an unfamiliar screen with daunting characters. “This computer is under auto-repair. Please try to restart.” Without attempting to comprehend the hidden language behind the lines, I restarted my computer, thinking that it was another hideous update of the Windows system.  

But I do not recall choosing the “close and update” option… Very strange, but understandable since my computer always acts like a whimsical child. When I restarted the computer with the hope that everything would go back to normal, the same page popped up again: “under repair.” After repeating the process for about five times, I panicked; it was serious this time—my computer refused to turn on.  

What is happening to my computer? Did I save the Word document? What if I lose all my precious folders and documents? What if the system breaks down and everything disappears—my desktop; my files; my writings; my memories; my Cortanapanic, anger, sadness; the guilty computer unscrewed the valve of my hysteria, and over the three-hour flight, I pressed restart for at least twenty times, acting more in need of “repair” than my virus-infected machine.  

I was obsessed. I was not sure what exactly led to my paranoia, but I knew that something was wrong with not only my computer but also with my mind—the way that I would rush downstairs to check my email first thing in the morning; the change in heartbeat when I hear email and message notifications; and now, being unable to take a nap or simply enjoy the flight without using my computer. 

There I stood, in one of my favorite cities, carrying my backpack and luggage, and looking for Lenovo stores as soon as I stepped off the plane. Walking on the familiar streets that brought back childhood memories, I limited my visions to computer stores, ignoring the beautiful mountains and flowing rivers that run through the city and my veins. In my birth city, a city of natural beauty that I had long claimed to miss, I was lost in the overwhelming world of technology, a world that had outpaced myself and will perhaps one day leave all of us behind. 

I was blind to it all, to a colorful world of the yellow of flourishing winter jasmine, the green of the trees, and the blue of the clear sky; and instead, I saw a black-and-white world with only the inventions of an industrialized society: the shops and stores designed for people like me, slaves of technology.  

After walking for twenty minutes and finally arriving at the Lenovo shop, I lost my last hope. It was closed because of Lunar New Year, meaning that my computer was incurable. Maybe I deserved it, not taking care of it properly. Yet, as I looked at the class of the empty Lenovo shop, I saw in the mirror a shadow controlled by technology, one haunted by new information created and carried by artificial intelligence 

Computer illiterate (as my brother would ridicule me) in a world that desperately needs technology for the earth to revolve, I also became an individual who was dependent on the screen and keyboard for the feeling of security, reassurance, and for survival in schools and in intellectual communities. 

Therefore, I gave myself a challenge. I decided to leave my broken computer behind as I travelled to an isolated village near my birth city to take a break from my busy and tech-dominated life. I refused to let the myriad information, notifications, and disruptions inundate my peaceful life that could have been. I stopped checking my emails in the morning, and instead opted for walks around the tranquil terraces. I did not even check my phone often, as I indulged in a world long lost in my life—a soul-absorbing sphere of nature that was an ancient memory for a city-dweller like myself.  

Skyscrapers and buildings and towers took the place of the beautiful lakes and sunsets in the modernized city; checking emails and waiting for notifications took away the pleasure of simply taking it slow and enjoying a hot cup of tea before logging into Zoom meetings every day. In the village, I found peace, and I did not worry about my recently damaged computer, which later bothered me for days. 

I knew I was never tech-savvy, but now I feel that it is perfectly okay, not that I am justifying my own guilty incompetence. If adapting to the new realm of technological advancements means that I am trampling upon my own will and the beautiful world around us, I choose to stand behind the line of technology and reaffirm my love for a peaceful, slow-paced, and harmonious world that celebrates nature, genuine human connections, and a reconciliation of our relationship with our planet. 

Nevertheless, I perfectly understand that technology does not always stand in our ways. Therefore, I will start recovering the files, and, of course, other important things that I have lost as I fell into the pitfall of technology. Meanwhile, I will try my best to adapt to my new Windows system that now functions differently, chasing behind the rapid yet transient shadow of technology. Hopefully, I will not get lost along the way. 

Examining the paranoid, anxious, and always-rushing person that I had become, I hope that as humans, we can all take a step back, look around, and ask ourselves: are we controlling technology, or is it controlling us? Meanwhile, I will probably go to the Lenovo shop to have my computer looked at and be told to take good care of it, but if there were something that I would change about myself after my computer broke down, I now know, with conviction, that I will turn off my computer properly next time and stop checking my emails first thing in the morning. 

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About the Contributor
Sunny Yu, Editor-in-Chief
Sunny Yu (‘22) is a prime example of the protagonist personality. As a natural leader, she is active, thoughtful, caring, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the WCC, a member of the Chapel Council, the captain of the varsity cross-country team, and a founding member of Webb’s Breakfast literary magazine. Sunny is also vocal and passionate about the enforcement of social justice and representation of marginalized groups: at the WCC, she utilizes journalism as a tool to shed light on many controversial issues, never shying away from the ability to make a lasting impact. During the weekends, you can often find her on a run to “The Spot,” a smoothie shop, playing soccer on Chandler, and occasionally annoying the library staff for borrowing too many books, such as her favorite, Waiting for the Barbarians, a wonderful allegory on human relationships. As a protagonist, she finds joy in guiding young journalists to grow into their best selves. This year, Sunny hopes that the WCC can continue covering important topics and spark conversations while bringing people laughter and keeping them informed. Favorite song: "Sunflower Feelings" by Kuzu Mellow

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