January has been a difficult month for many reasons and some of these reasons will be explored in other writings. In this post I address rather our dependence upon modern technology. In the latter part of January 2019 I suffered a major and catastrophic laptop breakdown, a reboot failure leading to a vast loss of material.
I have previously taken pride following a similar event some years ago, in saving all my work to an external hard-drive regularly every three months or so. I have of late been sloppy and far less conscientious than I should be. It came as a shock to discover that my last ‘back-up’ was the summer of 2018 and that I was very far behind schedule.
The result is the loss of hundreds of photographs and tens of thousands of words. It is a huge amount of work that I have lost in the form of unfinished blogs, articles and papers. I have felt lost myself, disheartened and I have found the experience deeply depressing. I only have myself to blame.
Purchasing a second-hand laptop at a very reasonable price; a tool to maintain my connection with the internet while the main and rather more expensive laptop is sent away for repair, I have slowly begun to rebuild. It has taken more than two weeks to configure the replacement to my own personal taste. Something I will have to repeat when the main laptop is returned of course. I am not looking forward to that.
Importantly I have spent many days attempting to replace my lost work by chasing posts across the internet, whether on Facebook, my blog or via sent emails. I have tasted success and disappointment. Friends and publishers holding copies of my finished texts have been kind enough to return my work, so alleviating some of my concerns. These are actions for which I shall be eternally grateful, for it is fellow artists and writers who can truly appreciate the horror of my loss.
All of this has however, caused me to pause. I have been forced to reflect upon our use of modern technology, to consider our dependence upon the electronic environment and the internet at large. We do our shopping on line, we make telephone calls via the web and we organise our lives using electronic prompts. Yet we who call ourselves Pagans, Occultists and students of the esoteric realms, often claim an attachment to nature. Does anything represent our disassociation from the natural environment more, than our involvement and apparent dependence upon the virtual environment?
I find myself deeply resenting my own dependence, which pains me because it is not superficial. It is no secret that I dislike many aspects of the internet, including Facebook and the now necessary use of other web platforms. Yet taking a more pragmatic approach than many, I accept that as a tool it is of benefit to me. The temporary loss of access was an inconvenience forcing the necessity of my purchase of a spare or replacement machine. My ability to function in a modern, technologically obsessed society was seriously impaired.
So where does this leave me and of course the rest of us? Have we lost our way, have we failed as Pagans and as scholars of the Occult? Perhaps and perhaps not, we should embrace technology when it is of benefit to us and to society. Yet when it is no longer of benefit; when it is a barrier to living a real life and forces us instead to live a virtual one, then we have reached that point when we should switch off the computer. That is when we should step outside, to go for a walk or enjoy the garden. That is when we should acknowledge that the electronic environment is in turn dependent upon our use.