When your wi-fi goes down and you feel less of a man

Men are left behind in a world where even mechanics must connect cars to the internet to fix them

I wondered why I felt quite so put out by the computer being down

I wondered why I felt quite so put out by the computer being down

 

When a relative complained on Facebook that some sort of domestic appliance issue was eating into her time and creating inconvenience, a friend offered to send her young daughter over to help out explaining that,” she has no wifi at the moment”.

I got the impression that the absence of wifi had transformed the girl into an inert entity in need of a physical stimulus to get her going again.

I know how she felt. A broadband breakdown which lasted for the best part of the week recently brought home to me the extent to which I had become dependent on a service that hardly anybody had 20 years ago.

I wondered, though, why I felt quite so put out by the loss. There seemed to be more to it the thing itself. Indeed, I recalled feeling the same way if a computer broke down back in the days before we had the internet at all.

Then I had a memory of growing up on a farm at time when men fixed their own cars and tractors and trucks and called in an expert only if all else failed. In particular I remembered watching men with their heads stuck in engines and realising that I myself, being more given to reading and daydreaming, was no good at such things. I had a sort of sense that I wasn’t a real man after all.

That, I think, is what gets to me when a computer or a broadband service fails. I know I can’t fix it myself and in some part of my mind I am back there watching men – men who were capable of doing things – lying under cars and tractors and getting them going again.

Sadly, even men like that are getting left behind by a world in which mechanics are having to connect cars to the internet to fix them. Soon, almost everything in the house will be connected to the Net and when the broadband goes down we will all be that girl rendered inert by the absence of wifi.

Turning to another matter, reader Ger McNamara suggest that it is “simplistic and clichéd” to expect the schools to provide an emotional education and/or treatment to troubled students.

I had made the suggestion in the light of the growth in the incidences of self harm since 2007. People harm themselves through cutting, overdosing and by other means at all ages but the principal age groups affected are females in their mid to late teens and males in their early 20s.

“Emotional education begins in infancy with family – schools do not have magic wands,” Ger McNamara writes.

“My proposal is to have properly resourced mental health facilities available 100 per cent of the time – capable of providing counselling services and health education full time – these facilities could be located in public buildings and/or school buildings – provided that the building is easily accessible to the community,” my reader suggests. “These facilities would provide outreach to everyone – students , retired people, employees , offenders etc.”

Yes and meanwhile I think we need to provide resources to schools to do what they can.

But are students getting the best career guidance? This question is raised by Carmel Healy Hennigan who is working on a dissertation on career choice at the University of Limerick.

“It has recently been suggested, in The Irish Times and elsewhere, that first year dropout rates from some Institutes of Technology courses is as high as 70 per cent. Surely then, we must conclude that our young people are not being served well,” she writes.

She points to research suggesting that students need more robust and reliable information, advice and guidance and that 82 per cent of teachers feel they are not in a position to provide this.

All of which suggests that while we obsess about the points race we need to emphasise the emotional well-being of young people and to put resources into helping them take the right road in their careers.

Padraig O’Morain (pomorain@yahoo.com) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His latest book is Mindfulness for Worriers. His daily mindfulness reminder is free by email.

Twitter: @PadraigOMorain

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