Technophobia (an apology)

So this post is a little late, and I must apologise for that. My internet went down, which was annoying, because I’m doing a PhD and working. But I live in Edinburgh, which is full of libraries, coffee shops, pubs, and even buses that have free internet. It’s almost Nikola Tesla’s dream come true (it’s not that close, I just wanted to get Tesla in here somewhere). So I popped out to a cafe and tried to do some work there.

Then my laptop decided not to work for a couple of days, which was annoying, because I’m doing a PhD and working. But I have books to read, and notebooks to fill with my spidery, keyboard-addled scratchings, so the PhD research and writing could, at least, continue in one form or another. But I couldn’t email my supervisors properly, I couldn’t open the SGSAH documents I was being sent, I couldn’t check the online note-taking programmes that are so useful, and I couldn’t post on this blog!

And no. If you’d seen my phone or the local library’s PCs you’d know that’s not an option!

The internet is hugely freeing if you could do with instant distraction, or you work best at a keyboard, or you feel that being connected through the internet with other people is really helpful to you and your mental health, or even if you need to cite a book but you can only remember the author’s name and one word from the title for that reference.

It’s really tough to do a PhD without access to modern technology. People have done it for centuries, so many who are outside the academic world simply don’t understand how hobbling it can be to lose access to your departmental messages, your uni email, your library account, possibly your only direct contact with your supervisors, and your thesis. Your actual thesis. The big old essay you’re writing. It’s on there. OMG. Please turn back on. Please. PLEEZ.

They just assume you write the thing by hand and…what? Send it to a printing press? (Weirdly there is one at my HEI, but it’s not really a practical option!)

This is what an external hard drive looked like in 1980. Or 2019 in my flat.

A lot of people don’t see a PhD as “proper work”, but you sit them down and show them your first drafts, your annotated bibliography, your browsing history (careful), your library searches, and probably the mileage on your bus, car, and train journeys and they’d baulk. “All that on top of constantly thinking about it? No thanks.” You’re working super hard if you’re doing a PhD, and your brain is always switched on. Always. Just like your laptop.

If your internet goes down, your laptop stops working, and your phone stops doing half the magic tricks it’s supposed to, then do yourself a favour and have a quiet five minutes to yourself. That’s what the gadgets are doing. They’re taking a break to recharge and update. In fact, do that anyway. Take a break from the tech-heavy, high pressure, constantly looming mountain that is your thesis.

My therapist put it really well: “your laptop updates itself before it needs to, not after it’s too late. You need to take a break before you start burning out, not after.”

So there you go, it’s a stealth self-care blog post after all (no apology for that!). A lot of the posts on this blog have, historically, related to self-care. Your laptop does it automatically. You have to do it consciously.

We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with Jimmy via email at james.johnson@stir.ac.uk or connect with the blog on Twitter

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