Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breathe... Or the Computer Wins

I was listening to CBC the other day… On the Coast, I think, when the  guest casually mentioned that people tend to hold their breath when waiting for their computer to respond. It was a genuine eye opener for me—I’ve never noticed it before but, yes, I do it all the time. Whether I am waiting for an expected email, a Google search to complete or FB to load, I hold my breath. And it’s not only the cessation of respiration that marks this passage but my shoulders tense and eyes become fixed: a zombie nerd awaiting its master’s voice.

A quick Google search finds that holding your breath (and this does not include certain yoga or free diving techniques) results in decreased blood oxygen, carbon dioxide build-up, higher pH levels, and muscle tension, leading to headaches, body fatigue, muscle soreness, and anxious feelings.

After hearing this I did my best to be more conscious of my computer breathing but even now, while waiting for inspiration to fill in the next word, I find I am not breathing as I would if I was reading a book, walking, or even writing with actual pen and paper. The computer, it seems, holds a special place in my pulmonary circuitry.

This holding of breath stems from impatience and, strangely enough, an antipathy towards authority. The impatience is easy to explain: I have an old computer with a temperamental need to tease me with downloading delays. While waiting for any kind of e-activity to commence or conclude I am overcome with an almost intolerant anticipation: I become the predator awaiting an elusive prey; my hackles arise and I cease all motion. 

The authority issue is more complex. You see, I hate being told what to do and when to do it. I am more or less reconciled to this aspect of who I am. I have even found ways to appease this part of myself when given instruction or tasks to complete. This ranges from (at worst) a sarcastic response to (at best) an acquiescent smile hiding a rapid fire inner dialogue advising me to let it go, it’s just a job. With supervisors I respect, I let them know of this personality quirk and we work through it together. With those I don’t, well, let’s just say my tongue can be well chewed by day’s end and my eyes strained from lack of rolling.

With computers, however, I enter into a power struggle. It is like an arm wrestle which I can only win if I bear it out, dig in my heels and keep very still. Unfortunately, what this means is that while waiting for this electronic authority do as I wish (and not what it wants or, in real terms, is capable of) I hold my breath. I know I am at the mercy of everything from aging computer parts to cookies, spyware and server issues but something inside forbids me to surrender. I want to bend this piece of hardware, manipulate its inner software and sever its connections before I ever say, take your time.

I am practicing though. As the old adage goes: living well is the best revenge. I will learn to breathe; I will consciously relax my shoulders and urge my lips into a smile knowing full well that if all things go as expected, this overblown silicone chip will be in the recycling depot long before I.


On a different note… a moment of celebration: the press release I wrote about on April 5 in Bullying Matters, is getting noticed. After a myriad of follow up phone calls (with a few more to go) I have five media outlets (including, fingers crossed, CBC's Early Edition), agreeing to print or talk about its contents. The Aldergrove Star even featured it on page one... in full. Yay!

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