Today I’m feeling like my mobile phone. Sort of. Antropomorphisation turn-around. Dehumanization, but not really. I just feel like my needs (or human needs in general) are very similar to our phones these days. Especially when it comes to rebooting.
I used to work at a call-center during college as side-job, taking the incoming helpdesk calls for a mobile provider. My most given advice (much like in ‘the IT-crowd)’?
Have you tried turning it off and back on again?
And every time I said it – it would lead to a sigh on the other end of the line. As if I was suggesting something so morose that they couldn’t possibly fathom the use of asking them that question. Some people would lie and say yes, while I full well know they didn’t – forcing me into the line ‘Alright, but just to be sure, would you mind doing it while I’m on the phone with you?’ so that one reboot later their problem would be solved.
There’s something magical about rebooting. Something necessary even. I could never quite explain the ‘why’ and ‘hows’ of why that solution solves pretty much any phone related issues (except getting a 5.000 euro bill for calling sexlines, obviously) due to a thorough lack (and disinterest) of technical knowledge, but it always seemed to help.
One time I got in a discussion with my grandma about the whole concept of it. Phones NEED to be rebooted every once in a while. Same goes for PC’s and laptops and pretty much anything else running on an operating system. She was vigorously of another mind – after all, if she always made sure to recharge the phone in time (or well – in her case: always keep it on the charger) it would never have to be turned off, right. It would just stay on. And on. And on.
Which, in fact – she was not wrong about. You CAN keep a phone, or a laptop….OR yourself ON indefinitely. They are designed to stay on as long as they don’t run out of energy, or die completely. If you feed them the bare minimum of electricity (or food and water) a phone, laptop or person will keep working until they don’t anymore.
But you shouldn’t.
Phones NEED to be turned off every now and then. Laptops NEED their periodic reboots. Whether it’s for system updates, that newest security patch or just to give the tiny chips whirring on the inside a moments respite – they NEED a break every now and then. Just because they’re built in such a way that they CAN be kept on…doesn’t mean that they SHOULD be kept on. Inevitably – if you keep them ON for too long, they will become too dependent on whatever it is that is keeping them ON to function without it. If you always keep a laptop on the charger, at some point it’ll die as soon as you take it off. That’s a fact of (electronic device) life.
And that…my dear reader….goes for us as people as well.
We NEED to take moments of downtime, regardless of our capabilities to keep ourselves up and running under duress, stress and outside demands. I know a lot of people (myself included) have this weird ‘talent’ of continuously performing under pressure, for however much time it is needed to do so. They find it possible, even easy, to settle into patterns that ask more of a person than should be asked, just because it’s asked.
Even stranger, they get so used to it that in naturally ‘slower’ periods – they actively look for ways to get back to those previously achieved ‘normalized’ levels. But staying constantly on, however convenient, in the end is going to have you breakdown sooner than those devices (and people) that know the power of a good reboot. So I gotta learn.
This week, for instance, I’ve had no large bids drawing my attention at work. No fast approaching deadlines to meet. No places to be or go that bring about important expectations. No friends or other commitments in my agenda. Yet, instead of enjoying this first ‘breather’ I’ve had since starting this job in April – I’m on edge, feeling like I should be looking for ‘more’ things to do. I’m acting like my damn grandmothers phone, always being forced to stay ON. ON. ON.
While I’m now actually just working at a normal one-person-level of workload…instead of doing enough for three in the timespan of a week. I’ve been ending workdays at 5:30 – instead of pulling them well onto 11p.m. I’ve been taking time for a walk at lunchtime instead of hunkering down and getting some extra work done inbetween meetings instead of eating. I’ve been operating on a normal workday time-schedule and….it’s freaking me the fuck out.
Lucky for me there’s already a truckload of work looming on the horizon again, but yaknow…this is the moment to learn: I HAVE to reboot. I just haven’t figured out the number to the customer service that will explain to a human how to turn themselves off and on again. Guess I’ll be forced into reading all of those tiring and slightly nauseating How-to-Selfcare blogs this week. But reboots, however necessary, scare the fuck out of me (outside of the fact that I have no skills of reboot in my arsenal).
There’s always going to be that irrational fear:
What if I turn it on and it doesn’t actually reboot?
What if the screen goes dark AND stays that way?
What if I forgot the password to all of my greatness and can never get back into my files again?
But, as I always told my customers during my callcenter hours:
‘Don’t worry. Even if it dies right here and now, there’s going to be help available to get you sorted. That’s what we’re here for.’ And just like with phones – even if I self-reboot and end up busted: there’s going to be people to help put me back together. Because that’s how electronica AND life work. Reboots necessary.
Now that I found out how to stand my phone up so I can watch the Netflix app in the tub without being at risk of dropping it in the water…I definitely have a recipe for self-care that will outshine any of those silly blogs I don’t wanna be reading on the topic. And chocolate. And chips. And scented candles. To be tested tonight.