Technology is a great tool for many people, and it improves our lives in many ways. For me, however, technology is often a cause of stress and tension – especially when it malfunctions for seemingly no reason. Last week, my computer – which is less than a year old, fully updated, and reasonably reliable – opted to stop functioning altogether. It was stuck in a loop with all these oh-so-convenient helpful options. Try rebooting to fix the problem – failed. Try automatic repair – failed. Try three different restore points – failed. Nothing but lots of blue screen to look at.
While I don’t completely eschew technology and I willingly admit how helpful it can be, I tend to be as low-tech as possible. In my own life, my personal choices include…
- A 12+ year-old vehicle with manual windows and locks, no GPS, and no cruise control.
- Kitchen tools that include a manual can opener and a teakettle to heat water for coffee.
- No cell or smart phone, just a home landline telephone with cordless receivers.
- No television services – no cable, streaming, satellite, or other transmissions.
- Reading 100+ books each year, but never on an e-reader or other digital device.
I’m not an off-the-grid person, I just don’t believe in upgrading for the sake of upgrading when what I have functions well and works for me – those same choices wouldn’t work for everyone, and all our choices and needs change over time. The irony is that 99 percent of my work is computer-based, requiring emails, blog posts, content management systems, SEO work, faster internet, photo editing, and so on. I’m good at my work, and I enjoy it, but when it goes sour – when a computer stops functioning – my work grinds to a halt. Because I’m self-employed, the expectations of my clients and the demands of my workload don’t change regardless of my computer’s inclinations.
This means that the indirect parts of my work must, by necessity, suffer when technology fails. But what aspects of my work are more indirect than others? This blog, for one, which is not as well-paying as many would-be bloggers might believe, though it does provide a platform to connect my birding work. The reorganization of my office that has been months in the planning must also be put off for a few additional weeks as it is now more important for me to stay behind my desk rather than assemble a new one, even though that new one will improve my overall productivity. Instead, I need to catch up with the more direct parts of my workload, including articles and blogs to be written for various clients, digital paperwork that must be filed by deadlines, and the administrivia that helps keep my head above water enough to breathe, even if my hair is always wet.
Okay, now you’re wondering how this relates to birds… It doesn’t, but it does. While I’m wrestling with technological demons and playing catch up with the detritus of my work, the best birds I get are those in my yard (which are great, by the way, I have no complaints). I don’t get out in the field, I don’t manage to plant that bird-friendly container I’ve been planning, I don’t get to work on building the new bird feeder platform I’m upcycling.
Work productivity ebbs and flows, and while the technological shackles of my office might be weighing me down at the moment, I still have feathers. I will take flight again, and you will keep seeing what it means to Be Your Own Birder, even when other bits of life must take priority over the birds we love. It happens to us all, and will happen again, but we’re still flying, and so am I.
Happy birding, however and whenever you do it!