Thursday, April 17, 2008

I wish I was a luddite

Technology is definitely not the friend of the aid worker, I've decided. Think what it must've been like before. You were in a tukul in Nimule, say, the only contact with the outside world your wireless radio for BBC news and letters delivered by single prop planes from the office in Kampala whenever the airfield was dry enough for the plane to land. Work was what was immediately in front of you. Slightly isolating, sure, but, at the same time, I bet it was a zen-like state of being, nothing but you and the job.

NOW, on the other hand, we've got outlook, gmail, skype, VOIP phones, Thuraya satellite phones, Codan radios in the cars, DSTV straight out of South Africa or Dubai, on and on and on. Every thought, every opinion, every need of every boss, donor, partner and lady in Colorado who wants to save the starving heathens is transmitted to us in real time.

I got some messages yesterday from our headquarters that were... shall we say.... less than flattering about my work. All the criticism was totally justified and understandable and all that, no doubt. But it was just the way it all came at once and was so... much and abrupt and.... yeah. Anyway, being the delicate flower I am, I got all het up and was in an awful mood all day, a mood that never would've happened if there weren't so many durn ways to contact me.

On the other hand, I finally calmed down at, like, 10.30 at night when I chatted on skype with a friend in Cape Town for an hour. Which also couldn't've happened if I didn't have so many communication options. So there are trade offs, I suppose.

But still, I wouldn't mind getting to try the island living experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had a bad day! :-(

You should have been working with NGOs just five years ago! We never had Vsat and DSTV, only HF radio. And maybe a very expensive Sat phone!
That's how it was when I first started. Liberating, yes. But not very productive and efficient.