Costs of Technology, Updating the OS

In the city of blinding lights
In the city of blinding lights

I decided to give in and update my Lion to Yosemite. I’ve tried upgrading to Mavericks before but downloading about 5GB is near impossible in the connection that I have in Manila. Yesterday, I brought my Air to a PowerMac and had them update and restore the system for a fee of P1800 ($40). The system is free but I assume it is for the labor of restoring and updating the laptop. At least I didn’t have to worry about doing it myself. I know a lot of people would love to mock me about being a Mactard, but, I really just don’t want to spend my time figuring things out by myself, especially given the horrendous connectivity issue in the Philippines.

I am now trying to figure things out. I downloaded the Open Office as a I don’t want to be bogged down by Microsoft Office anymore. I am also contemplating on purchasing Keynote and Numbers, at least I only need to pay for it once, even with all the updates that it goes through. I already use Pages and I like the look and feel of it. I know there are cheaper (not necessarily legal) options out there. I’ve used it before, and it was ok. But I feel that it doesn’t sync well and it takes up a lot of memory. As I use Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in my devices, it is simpler to use the same in the laptop. The only trouble is that its $19.99 (P900) apiece, so it would cost me another P1800 ($40).

Technology simply isn’t cheap. I’ve been told that Apple over-charge for everything. The thing is, when I was using Microsoft, I felt like I had to change my notebook every other year. I never know where a proper service centre is and most of the programs that people use are pirated. Customer-service is practically non-existent. You need to know the nitty-gritty of everything to get the most of it. Again, I don’t have enough of myself to give fully to a hardware that for all intents and purposes is just a tool.

I’m not about the espouse that everybody should ship to Apple, that is just ridiculous. Apple works for me, but I know it doesn’t work for everybody. What’s making me so pensive is the cost of the presence of technology to our lives. I like that this laptop is about 5 years old, I never had a laptop last that long, though I did use to have a sturdy desktop. It certainly creates stress and it brings our labour home. Being online, being present in the virtual world, takes up a lot of time. This is a labour that is not paid for, but it creates a rope that drags us inside an inescapable system. You pay for technological access with money and you continue to pay for it with your time.

I know I can always disconnect. I do that a lot, yet I feel that I should do it more. The thing is, most people expect that the email would be read or the Facebook message be seen. There are grants, conferences, and opportunities that one may miss by choosing to be offline complete. Disconnecting is healthy, but one can’t disconnect too long. Again, it is as if we’ve all been roped into a system wherein no one can wait until Monday anymore. There are things to read, see, and respond to.

Maybe its just me being too pensive about being online again. I used to enjoy it a lot and part of my research was about it. I wanted to use it as a tool for easier access and engagement with the public. But the more I look into it and engage it, my discomfort about it increases. Everyone has an opinion and has the audacity to express it, no matter where its coming from. I’ve always been an advocate of free speech, even at the cost of offence, yet being exposed to the online community, I witnessed a lot of people going out of their way to simply offend and nothing more. I’m starting to feel that what I choose to study is more of a debilitating practice rather than an empowering one.

Where will this take us? Where does it stop? People hanging out or having dinner are constantly on their phones and tablets. When we’re at home, it’s either we socialize with people online or simply be online for its own sake. There is always a demand to be online, not just socially but also professionally. Even during an art controversy, at first I thought that we should’ve been there to respond to what people are saying about the art. But now I realise that this demand for immaterial labour requires our constant presence without actually adding anything helpful to the discourse. It is unhealthy to demand constant presence and response, as is the usual in today’s capitalist system. It requires us to be there, but just with the ephemeral presence, nothing ground-breaking or in-depth in a way that we can change the current system.


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