Help! I Tried to CTRL-Z My Life

12:00 PM Wednesday February 11, 2009
by Rasika Welankiwar

My laptop is my wedding planner, checkbook, picture album, and calendar. It’s all of these things even before I’ve connected to the Internet. It’s a natural part of my everyday life and it has been for some time now.

But due to an unnerving incident the other day, I’m worried, for myself and for others whose days are spent working on computers, that what is a natural part of my life is actually taking over my life.

Here’s what happened: I was typing up notes from a brainstorming session. The ideas from the brainstorming session had been written on poster-size Post-its stuck around the room. My job was to transfer the ideas from the cartoonishly large stickies into a nice, neat document.

At my desk, I created a kind of lean-to structure to hold the notes while I transcribed. But the paper was flimsy and the roof, made of manila folders, was precarious. As I typed, the thing began to slide, and, not moving my hands from the keyboard I watched it fall.

Did I reach over and straighten it back up? Well . . . not exactly. By instinct, without thinking, I typed Control-Z, the keyboard command for “Undo.”

Then I waited for the problem to undo itself, for the papers to return to their upright position. In that split second, this all seemed entirely logical. Just as my leg kicks up when my doctor knocks my knee, now my fingers hit Control-Z when I want to take something back – apparently regardless of whether what I want undone is actually on my computer.

I wonder how long before I try to Control-A (“Select All”) my dirty laundry and drag it into the wash. Or better yet, Control-X (“Cut”) all of my problems. I’m sure I want to send that parking ticket to the recycling bin.

It’s obvious that we rely on computers to perform day-to-day tasks. But how does our experience on computers affect how we handle those tasks we still need to do ourselves, when shortcuts aren’t always possible? Have you, like me, ever had your computer habits creep into your non-computing life?

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