In high school I knew someone who was afraid to cross bridges. Once I saw her unable to cross a 4-foot walkway over a creek that one could hop over. This was bizarre and unbelievable to me, partly because there was no way the bridge could have collapsed, and partly because even if it did the worst possible result would be a sprained ankle.
I have developed a bit of an unreasonable fear of my own though. Last week the podcast website and this blog went down for a bit less than a day. The terror that this sparked in me is hard to describe. It’s like an icy clawed hand gripping inside your chest. Not at my heart, because it’s in the center of my chest rather than a bit to the left, but it feels like where the heart should be. It becomes harder to breathe, and the only thing I can think about is getting the site back up. Turns out it was a glitch with a new feature the host was rolling out, and was reversed quickly. Disaster averted.
When I was an awkward teen geek, for a couple years my entire social life was online. Nearly everyone I cared about could only be reached via modem. There was a point, after I’d settled into this life, that my ISP had a major catastrophe of some sort and was down for two days. Instantly I was cut off from everything that gave me comfort, and there was nothing I could do about it. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it. Some piece of circuitry in some distant place had failed and amputated my connection to the world and I was completely helpless to do anything about it. It was the helplessness that was the worst part.
Yes, I realize this was all greatly exaggerated due to being a dramatic teenager in the midst of hormonal pandemonium. But the horror stuck with me. I know it’s irrational, and I try to downplay it and not think about it. It’s still there, and it rears its hideous head when things like unexpected/unexplained server crashes occur. I’m getting twinges of that feeling just recalling it. Bleh.
I dropped out of my Comp Sci courses in college mainly due to this. I couldn’t face a career where I would be feeling this ALL THE TIME. Worst idea for a college major ever.