Radio (Computer) Silence


A week or so ago, my trusty laptop shut itself down while I was in the middle of typing. As usual, I had lots of windows open on three different browsers (Firefox for myself, Opera for Chicklish, Explorer for my freelance job), and colourful electronic post-it notes listing things to do. My evening was laid out in front of me: urgent work, semi-urgent work, posts to upload, blog comments to make, tweets to respond to, stuff to chat about. All relying on (or taking for granted) my computer.

And my computer?

The screen went black. Without warning.

I took a deep breath. I know computers. I’ve watched them grow up! What you do when they dramatically shut down is… you remain calm.

I counted to ten – calm – and tried to switch it back on.


I counted to twenty – calm… ish. I tried again.


I walked away for a while. I managed ten minutes before my thumb was irresistibly drawn to the ‘on’ button.

No response.


Um, not really. I ran frantic diagnostic checks, drawing on years of troubleshooting. It was the power supply! It had to be. I needed a new cable – that was all! I ran around the house pulling out anything that looked vaguely black and cable-shaped. I tried them all.

Nope. No, no, no.

I took more deep breaths. I slept on it. It didn’t help. I admitted defeat and took the computer to the repair shop in the morning. They diagnosed a problem with the power supply, at the computer end of things. They said they could try to fix it. (Try!) They told me they should be able to recover data “in about a week”. (Should? About a week?) By this time, I was pretty sure the problem was more serious than it looked. And I was right – the computer turned out to be a goner. That gutted laptop in the picture above? It’s mine. Ouch.

My world went wobbly. I had an old computer and a few backups, but not very recent ones. I patched together what I could and waited to hear whether the rest could be restored. I found I was locked out of sites I used without thinking. Most of my passwords were memorised by my trusty laptop (trusty, see?) and… I couldn’t remember them. I tried twenty different passwords for Twitter, but they were all wrong. I asked repeatedly for password reminders, but not a single one arrived. I realised they were being sent to an old email address, one I had no longer access to. I had to face it. I’d somehow landed right back in the early nineties, in a world without Facebook and Twitter and blogs – oh my!

Ironically, I’d been in the middle of writing about social networking (for this book about blogging) when it happened.

Also, the new novel I’m writing is partly about online/offline relationships. That’s all I can really say about it right now, but I wondered…

What if the internet disappeared? What if you could never, ever go online again? Would you miss it?

What would you miss most?

(You’re allowed to say Girls Heart Books. šŸ˜‰ )

Now please excuse me, I have files to recover and lost tweeting/blog-commenting time to make up for…



37 thoughts on “Radio (Computer) Silence

  1. Funnily enough, the characters in my new book are dealing with very low levels of technology. Maybe I’ve funnily hit lucky with trends! As far as the computer is concerned the longest I’ve gone without internet access in the last year is four days during my holiday to Amsterdam. Being unemployed at the moment – 6 months and counting – I really rely on the net to see the outside world and, of course, I have been moving on apace with my writing! The things I would miss most would be Facebook and my Word programme. Hopefully I won’t go through what you’ve just suffered because I know how disorientating it can be. For my characters, though, the lack of the internet was a very minor consideration, and its reappearance was a cause for concern as they had no idea who’d put it back up!

  2. Hi Lu! šŸ˜€

    I’d miss Girlsheartbooks yes but, one thing i’d miss more is Twitter cuz, thats where i met you and all my wounderful writer friends! šŸ™‚

    Also, i’d miss Yahoo cuz thats where i talk with Linda Chapman. I could’nt imagine my life without contact with all of you and Linda. šŸ˜¦

  3. I would most definitly miss girlsheartbooks and emailing my friend from germany.

    I think I would go crazy without those things (well crazier than I already am)….

    great post.


  4. I got chills reading this. My ability to kill off laptops is legendary! So pleased you could get your data back in the end – and highly entertained that I am not the only one who uses Firefox for nice things and Explorer for boring ones… šŸ™‚

  5. Reading this made me feel physically sick. I hate relying on technology but I remember the days when I was quite happy without it. Great- if chilling – post! x

  6. Hi, Luisaxx
    I feel your pain.
    Things I would miss if the laptop died.
    1.Chatting to my best friend on MSN.
    2. GHB, natch.
    3. The BBC Radio iPlayer.
    4. Looking up kit houses/hippie clothing/scrummy veggie recipes on t’internets and calling it ‘research’,

  7. Poor you!!! My internet went down for a few days too and it. was. horrible. I don’t know what I’d do without the internet… *shudders*

  8. Hey Luisa!
    I LOVED Kiss Date Love Hate! I just finished it and its amazing!
    Anyway, just to let you know, on the amazon link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Blog-Quick-Expert%60s-Guide/dp/0750270500
    they have spelt your name wrong! Hee Hee. Even Amazon gets it wrong sometimes!

    I’d miss Chicklish, Girls Heart Books, Blogspot and Gmail the most! And gosupermodel. Gosupermodel is a very shallow website, but strangely addictive! šŸ™‚

    This post really made me think about how much we rely on the internet, and the computer. When I go to Germany, to visit my family, I stay with my grandparents. They have no computers, so I realise that I don’t really need the internet after all. That didn’t mean I didn’t miss it, though!

    • Hello, Orli! I’m so glad you enjoyed Kiss Date Love Hate – that’s made my day! And you’re right about the spelling – thank you!
      I love your list, too (and thank you for including Chicklish!)
      I totally agree with what you said about relying on the internet. It’s the same when I visit my family in Italy in the summer – we don’t have a computer there and we just get on with it! Then the first thing I do when I land back in England is check my email… šŸ™‚
      Thank you very much for your wonderful comment!

  9. I would DIE (not literally) without a compeuter!

    I do my homework on it, check my emails (I would so miss hotmail)!
    And most of all my blog!!

    oh and of course other peoples blogs including this one!

    This post made me think…what would I do without a computer?
    Handwrite all my homework, maybe if there was not such thing as computers people would be cleverer and have neater handwriting!

    • We didn’t have many computers when I was at school and I’m not sure whether that worked for us… šŸ˜‰
      Ooh, now I feel like blogging about handwriting. I might do that in the future. Thank you for the great idea, Shakira, and thanks for your brilliant comment! šŸ™‚

  10. I would definitely miss this blog!

    I always try hard yo go on it everyday, and am worried when I miss a day!

    I’d also miss hotmail, and doing my blog!!!

    It’s really weird, but recently, my laptop broke down, we’ve got a new one now, but the other one had all my data and stuff on it, so naturally-I was distraught!

    Then one of my dad’s friends said he could get the memory out but not fix the computer, and I was like PHEW!!!! He managed to get everything out, stored it on a HUGE memory sticky thing, and we uploaded it onto our new laptop. All my stuff was there, so I was really happy!

    Great post!

  11. Eek! The stuff of nightmares, Luisa. How on earth did you stay sane? It’s a little scary how we have grown to think of our computers and phones as sort of extra limbs or a brain extensions. I have a massive sign over my desk telling me to ‘BACK UP!’, which I do frequently and obsessively to my external drive, otherwise I’d never sleep. But, if I’m honest, I’d probably get heaps more writing and drawing done if I was denied access to the net.

    • Just had a look and really enjoyed the bit I read, though I’ve never watched the programme. (Is it only on Disney? I don’t have that – sigh.)
      Anyway, I hope you keep writing!

      • Thank you so much! My mum will be shocked when I say a really famous author read my story! šŸ™‚

        I (confession time) have never watched it on t.v as it is on Disney XD so I watch it on Youtube

        Thanks x

  12. I’m weird. I wouldn’t miss the computer (Except GHB which I would CRY without!!). I think I’d find it quite peaceful to be honest… At first anyway, after a while I’d be pinning for my emails and GHB! Although I do spend time on the PC, I don’t rely on it, although my homework wouldn’t be half as good…

  13. Just a couple of weeks ago I had to go without internet for almost two weeks! It was unbearable! I couldn’t go on Facebook, hotmail or type up/research for my assugnments! Even little random things that you feel like finding the answer to I couldn’t look them up… It really made me realise how much I rely on the internet. I don’t know what I’d do without it! Heather xx šŸ™‚

  14. Hi Luisa! Oh, I really feel for you. There’s nothing more annoying than computers going blank without warning! It really stresses me out! Especially when I am in the middle of something! I would definitely miss the internet, if it disappeard. I’m praying that it will not happen!
    I would mostly miss GHG (of course!), MSN, research for homework, Amazon and Quizazz. Those are the main things which I would miss. Plus, there are other random websites which I go on. It would be terrible if there was no technology. But, if technology hadn’t been invented, I guess people would be much more creative and more clever. šŸ™‚
    I just saw the gutted laptop picture at the top – Ohhhhhhhh……looks painful. I am so sorry, Luisa. šŸ˜¦
    Lots of love, Shalini x

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