A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked me to write an article or blog for a local disability organisation about what I use my computer for. I think she is after something that dispels the mysteries and shows how essential using a computer is becoming in the modern age. So here goes.
Right. What do I use my computer and my access to the internet for most? Well, I suppose that one of the main things I use it for is my addiction to social media. I spend most of my time chatting to people worldwide about what they are doing and what their families are doing. Thanks to my computer and the internet I am able to stay in touch with friends in Canada, with family in the British Virgin Islands and with old school friends who now live nationwide. The internet can also help if you are looking for people you have lost. I have recently found a cousin I’ve not seen or heard from in 25 years who is now living abroad and, a couple of years ago, I discovered, thanks to the internet, that a friend from school that I last saw in 1979 in Chester, 280 miles from my home, now lives a very short bus ride away in South London. We are now able to chat all the time online and we get to meet up fairly regularly for lunch and a reminiscence filled gossip in person. It’s so good to be able to do this and, without the internet, it would never have happened. Then there are my new friends. The world is my oyster. I am now in regular contact with several people I have met online who live in Canada and I was chatting with someone in Australia for hours only last week. People I could never have met any other way.
Then there is my father. I keep in regular touch with him by phone but we also email each other quite a lot. He sends me pictures he has taken and little bits of news of what he and my step-mother have been doing which is wonderful and I can, in turn, keep him up to date with my doings and those of my children . Dad is 81 and my step-mum is 83 so, as you can imagine, it’s great to know they are both OK and still enjoying life to the max and it stops me from worrying.
Then there is my writing. I spend a goodly part of my day writing and It’s something I wouldn’t be able to do at all without my computer and internet access. More than anything in the world I have always wanted to write and be recognised for my writing and now I have the opportunity. I do blogs, like this one and I am also write fiction. As yet nothing published but I can but hope that what comes out of my head will be worthy it one day. The internet is invaluable for both sorts of writing for me. As a severely disabled person I am unable to get to my local library to do any research I may need to do but I now have the world’s best reference library at my fingertips.
Then there is shopping. I have just bought some new tops without having to leave my bed. I spot things I like the look of and before I know what has happened the postman knocks and the goods are mine. No fighting my way down a crowded high street or struggling in a tiny changing room for me, all done from the comfort of my living room. If I find that I don’t like something or it doesn’t fit I can just send it back. No problems there! My computer and the internet is also invaluable for more mundane tasks. I do my weekly shop online and the great God Tescos delivers it all, not only that but the delivery driver will even carry the bags inside for me and put them in the kitchen. And special shopping for birthdays and Christmas is fantastic. Only recently I managed to find a picture of my father’s childhood online home by using a search engine, bought it and gave it to him for Christmas. He was delighted and a more personal present I would be unlikely to find anywhere else.
So, what else can I use my computer for? Well, I can make sure I am receiving all the benefits I’m entitled to using a benefits checker such as Turn2Us and then, if I need to, I can follow links to the appropriate application forms and complete them online. I can look for advice and information on just about any subject I can think of. I can chat to other people who have similar experiences or medical conditions to me which is really good as a mutual support network. It’s so wonderful knowing that someone else has had the same thing happen to them and that I am not alone. Not only that but other people may have some hints and tips so what appeared to be an insurmountable problem has become just a little hiccup and nothing to worry about. I can also book appointments at my GP’s surgery, order repeat prescriptions, report maintenance queries to my landlord, contact my hairdresser
All in all, my computer is now my electronic lifeline. Only yesterday there was a problem with my broadband connection and I couldn’t get online, go one with my writing or anything for four or five hours. It was horrible! I was lost. Sure, I may have had to pay for my connection, buy a computer and learn how to use it but it’s not cripplingly expensive and I’m learning as I go along.
Being stuck in bed most of the time could be really dull and boring but my computer is my escape route and there’s no way I could live without it. Friends and family, hobbies and support, retail therapy and essential shopping, advice and information, leisure and necessity, it’s all there waiting for me and all I need is a computer and an internet connection to be able to access it all.