If you're of a certain age, you will remember promises being made long ago of how simple our lives would be made by the advent of the Digital Age. Society, we were told, would become paperless, and we would enter a Brave New World of information retrieval and convenience.
And so it came to pass. Mobile phones are now smart. Music is instantly available and extremely portable. Computers and tablets and notebooks and iPads keep us constantly in the loop and all the information known to mankind is stored in the Cloud, ready to be retrieved at our whim by Google search.
Why, then, was I so afraid when I was cleaning out the closet and came across a large, closed box? Well, it wasn't exactly closed. It was too full for the lid to fit tightly and its overflowed content threatened to twine around my arms like an Evil Constricting Vine as envisioned by a Hollywood special effects master.
Then - disaster! I dropped the box and the malevolent mass was free on the floor. I was looking at every piece of wire that ever came into the house with a new electronic gadget.
We all have nests of these orphaned snakes of plastic coated copper in the house somewhere. At least I hope we do. I'd hate to think I was the only one who is afraid to throw away a perfectly good piece of technology, especially when it comes wrapped with a twist tie and so nicely packaged in a little zip-lock baggie. And what about all those poor under paid Chinese children who toil night and day to produce these cables and connectors and power cords? How can I not value their efforts?
But what do you DO with these things? Every time you purchase a new device, it comes with more cables than you need, because the cables from the old machine you are replacing still work just fine, thank you very much.
I learned a while ago to keep the ones I use frequently slung over the door to the computer cabinet. That way when I want to upload photos from my camera (mini USB to USB in computer) or sync my iPod (stupid Apple has to use proprietary plugs different from everyone else in the world), I don't have to dig through the smaller stash of rechargers and connectors I keep in a drawer.
But these things spawn in the dark. And like some new archeological find, their purpose is lost in the mists of time. There's a plug on one end. Fine. That one is easy. It goes in the wall socket. The other end presents more of a challenge. It's round but it doesn't appear to fit into the hole of any electronic gadget I currently own. And the square transformer box on the wire is no help. All it says is
"Class 2 power supply. WARNING ..."
and then goes into a bunch of electrical jargon that I feel stupid for not understanding.
I can't throw these things away. Perhaps I'm a secret hoarder. I cried out for help once. I took the entire box to a computer repair man and told him to take anything he would find useful. He looked at me with pity and revulsion, and said that they hadn't manufactured the Commodore 64 since 1988, and it was probably safe to get rid of that one.
The Digital Age has, to an extent, gone paperless. Instead we are left with a plate of electronic spaghetti which I think is harder to get rid of.
But this time I'm not going to put the box back in the closet. Oh, no.
I think I'll have my husband carry it to the basement instead.