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Emails to my Therapist

Too Much Alone With Technology

Dear Nicholas, The monster machinery of technology is looming over me.

Working alone at home, I feel like a small solitary figure lost among towering mechanical entities: the networks that are now the friendly faces of such mom-and-pop shops as Amazon, Verizon, Apple, Truist, and most any airline. I’m alone with technology and have very minimal technological skill, with my own devices or with the massive inhuman systems I need to interact with.

I don’t hate tech. I dote on my laptop. If only I could limit its online use to gmail, The Daily Mail, Facebook, and a little shopping.

TikTok Tiktok tik tok  tik tok ti….

Today I’m dealing with a relatively simple task that involves only my computer, a couple of apps, and the vast sticky web of the Internet. I’m trying to download the TikTok app so it works on my machine. Sounds easy? Ha! There are intimidating intermediate steps. I won’t burden you with the details.

Except to say that I want the full use of TikTok to help me attract people to my latest novel (My Life On Earth And Elsewhere, a fantastical tale I’m sure you’ll love! Reviewers call it “stunning…magical.”)  So I have to figure this out. I have to keep going.


I started working at home a while back, at the start of covid and have continued to do so–after decades of renting small offices out in the world of people. Staying home, I do like that I’m not driving and the solitude is mostly tolerable. However, without other humans working around me, I feel like the only one with such problems. I’m not as good at shaking off frustrations.


                                                   And I Am Frustrated!

The corporate structures I regularly deal with seem intricate impenetrable grids, booby-trapped with short-outs and misfirings.

Enormous mindless creatures on every side. Horror movie stuff! An endless structure made of vibrating lines of abstract math. Trapped in Algebra II forever.

Eventually, I hear a human on my phone, though typically one of a series of wrong ones. I am finally shifted to the department that handles what I need to do or find out. The voice on the other end is polite.

Actual human

Am I polite?

Am I? By then that is questionable. I have certainly lost any pretense of friendliness. I try not to be beastly to the living person on the other end.The best I can do is cool-and-terse. But my actual mood does show through.

Actual mood

Here To Stay…And Continuously Change

Technology shows no signs of abating. Instead it develops and changes faster than most of us can learn to use it well.  In fact, it goes into action before it knows how to do its own job well. If it were a drug, the FDA would require more testing. (And now the machinery of blogging is giving me trouble!)

But enough of this ranting.

It occurs to me now that if I install in my mind a nicer image than hostile machinery, I might feel better and learn faster. How about this? The new welcoming face of Big-Tech Business:

I already feel so much better.



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  • kenju
    July 7, 2023 at 2:15 pm Reply

    Maybe I’m just too dumb to get it, but tech doesn’t scare me – it befuddles me. I love reading my email and trolling through Facebook and Instagram, and I do my fair share of shopping on-line, now that my children have decided I should not drive to the shops I used to haunt. I have lots of face-to-face interaction, almost every day, but there is something to be said for keeping in touch with OLD friends, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon, God willing.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 7, 2023 at 3:12 pm Reply

      You seem to make great use of the internet, Judy. I like the fun and useful parts of it myself. But the interface with new apps and big companies befuddles me quite a lot. It bothers me that the online instructions to deal with these don’t seem to be updated to keep up with the changing systems. I’m so often looking for something on my screen that isn’t there.

  • Robert braxton
    July 7, 2023 at 4:49 pm Reply

    Tech support was my call
    Until middle 2009 when due to economic downturn the theological seminary where I worked invited me to their exit door

    • Peggy Payne
      July 7, 2023 at 4:55 pm Reply

      Sorry they did that. The semester I taught at Duke the IT guy was terrific. He started his instructional meeting with me by saying, “First sit down in your professor chair.” So much nicer than when they assume knowledge and say something like, “First download the app that will allow you to access this other app that will…

  • alcooke
    July 7, 2023 at 7:03 pm Reply

    I’m pondering what is the saddest/scariest part of this, Peggy. The ntion of Amazon Apple and Verizon as Mom and pop shops seems really appalling. Sure i becsme acquainted with Amazon First as a book seller and a source of books not available readily, otherwise. Now my publisher tells ne they have a 75% share of the book market, making it all the harder to find books in a local store.

    I fear you have opened a can of wasps that ypu may live to regret as many of us will have our pet peevess to whine about. My next one is all the updates and apps that are touted to lead tom an improved experience, as you found with Tik Tok? My sense is that these “improvements” make it easier and or mor profitable fot big Tech. And it probably makes their marketing easier. Download an upgrade and you”ll have to relearn how to do things you already learned to do. “And they wrote it all down as the progress of man.” John Prine.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 7, 2023 at 7:25 pm Reply

      It would help if the instructions for doing anything online were updated with each “improvement,” Al. I almost never find on my screen the words that I’m told to click on. So it feels like chopping a new trail through underbrush every time. And I think we’re all justified in whining and more. And John Prine is one of my husband’s heroes; I hear him a lot. Bob wishes he had gotten into his music a long time ago.

    • July 8, 2023 at 1:55 am Reply

      I Love John Prine – wish i’d run across him decades ago, and so sorry he’s no longer with us. He did leave us the many wonderful songs he wrote and sang so amusingly and hauntingly, and that’ll hafta’ do. bob

      • Peggy Payne
        July 8, 2023 at 3:10 pm Reply

        I’m glad you found him, Bob!

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