Back to the Future: the Curse of Modern Technology
by Jennifer Young
|Back in the good old days...|
I’m struggling to build a website. It’s supposed to be easy. Everyone tells me it is. Everyone around me seems only to click their fingers fora beautiful, professional-looking site to appear in front of them, whereas I slave away for hours and all I produce is something with half a paragraph of text, a photo of myself unintentionally cropped in all the wrong places and a floating box which says ‘add text here’. #technologyfail, as my teenagers might say.
In the rest of my life, I have to admit, technology does make life easier. I’m no Luddite but nor does any of this come instinctively. I may have been the last person in the western world to get a mobile phone but now I have it, it helps me out in all sorts of ways. There’s nothing like the bus tracker app when you get on the wrong bus. Google Earth? Wouldn’t be without it. And there’s the netbook which fits in my handbag so that I can write when I’m away, and the Kindle so that I can read when the bus app tells me I’ve ten minutes to wait for the next bus…whatever did we do before we had them?
Well, as writers I think our life was much easier. More specifically, I think plotting was a lot easier. Technology moves so quickly now that before you’ve finished drafting a plot some new advance renders it impractical. I bet crime writers utter a curse at the news of every breakthrough in forensic science: the good old-fashioned sleuth must be impossible to write these days.
|Author's curse. |
Image courtesy of blakeburris (via Wikimedia)
And what about mobile phones? Gone are the days when people couldn’t be contacted, or were able to keep secrets. Thanks to satnav your heroine no longer has any excuse to go wandering down a strange country lane in the dark: she’ll just seem plain silly. And that stranger, he reminds me of someone…I’ll just take a quick picture on my phone. It’s particularly galling when you decide it’s time to resurrect an old plot only to realise that just wouldn’t happen now. And then you have to start all over again.
There are solutions, of course. Recently I had to have a heroine, who fled her ex-boyfriend, go cold turkey on Facebook so that it wasn’t too easy for him to find her. But your options are limited: it gets a bit repetitive when the hero can’t call the heroine because he’s run out of credit (does anyone still have pay as you go?) or charge, or he loses the phone; and when he does get through the heroine can’t reply because she’s broken her phone or her over-enthusiastic flatmate has put it in the washing machine. In real life technology considerably narrows our options for the plot twists, strangles our creativity.
Except in the case of my nascent website, of course, where the opportunities for things to go wrong seem to increase with every click of the mouse….