Technology: The Day I Loved, Hated, and Loved it Again

People often say “I thought I was going to have a heart attack” when they retell the story of something horrific that happened to them. I’m sure we’ve all said it at least once during our lifetime. It’s quite an exaggeration—possibly even insensitive at times—but never fails to convey how distraught a person felt after a particular experience. In fact, I just had one of those experiences about a week ago. It was the day I loved technology, hated technology, and then loved it again by nightfall.

It may sound like a horrible writer’s cliché, but I do always have to carry around a notebook with me anywhere I go. I’ve been that way ever since high school. I never know when something is going to inspire me, and I don’t want to be without a pen and paper when it does. I’ve lost many potential story ideas because I thought to myself, “Oh, there’s no way I’ll forget that idea.” Yeah, right.

Of course, lugging around a notepad isn’t always convenient, so when smart phones started including notepad/memo applications as standard features, I saw the benefit right away. It worked like a charm! No matter where I went, I could always take out my iPhone, type a little note about an idea that I had, and then come back to expand upon it later. Doing that saved me a great deal of time and my phone didn’t take up much space in my pocket.

This new-found love of my iPhone lasted for two years. Over that time, I’d amassed a healthy collection of story ideas. So healthy, in fact, that I simply couldn’t use them in a timely fashion. Just about the time I’d settle in to begin work on one of those ideas, I’d come up with a couple of new ones, and my brain would kick into “Ooooh! Shiny object!” mode.

As a writer, having an over-abundance of ideas is a good problem to have, though. That is, until you sit down one day to view your catalog and discover that they’re all gone.

I received a text message from Apple informing me that iOS5 was available for download. I’d been taught to make sure that my iPhone always had the latest firmware because it was essential to keeping my phone working properly. I downloaded the update and all was right in the world… for about a day. When I opened my notebook app the next morning to update my catalog of story ideas, I found the app blank. Two years’ worth of my brain’s creations… gone. I thought I was going to have a heart attack!

I called tech support, but they were unable to help. The lady informed me that the new iOS5 user agreement had warned of such a possibility, and that I should have been backing up my iPhone to a secondary location on my PC “just in case.” Just in case? Forgive me for assuming that a $600 phone would operate as it was intended to. In a flash, all of the things that my “Apple hater” friends had been saying to me for years sunk in. I went from iPhone lover to iPhone hater in the blink of an eye.

Needless to say, I felt deflated and lost. I couldn’t believe that all of my creations were gone. I could remember some of them, and I quickly jotted down as much as I could remember, but I was overwhelmed with disappointment thinking about all of the morsels that I’d never be able to recall. I moped all day, then came a beacon of light in the form of my fiancé.

My fiancé told me about a little trick that the iPhone does for users with a Gmail account. The iOS automatically backs up the mail, calendar and notepad applications to Gmail provided that you have that option selected in the phone’s settings. I ran upstairs to my computer in what felt like a single bound. I logged into Gmail, clicked on the “notes” tab, and there it was… two years’ worth of my brain “scribbles” safely stored and ready to be copied to a backup location. To say I let out a sigh of relief would be a gross understatement.

Though I was still mortified by the experience as a whole, it did have a happy ending. I woke up that morning loving the advantages that technology had provided for me. By mid-afternoon, I was ruing the day I had ever abandoned my old trusty friends, the pen and paper. Then, before the streetlights had powered on at dusk, I was thanking the technology gods for allowing my iPhone to sync up with my Gmail account “just in case.” Apparently my iPhone knew me better than I did.

There are several morals to this story, but each reader will find the one that hits the closest to home for them. For me, I learned that technology is a powerful and useful friend in my life, but that I should never stray completely from the history that got me to where I am today. I have resumed using the notepad app for my iPhone, though my ideas never sit there for very long before I copy them over to a master file on my computer. As for the good old-fashioned notepad and pen? I’m reading my notes for this blog post off of one at this very moment.

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