All the Times Technology Maybe Saved My Life

In the face of mortality, I keep faith in technology

Jen Sonstein Maidenberg
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readOct 14, 2019

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Photo: Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

WWhile looking through the old college notebooks I dug out of a trunk I store in my mother’s basement, I found evidence of the day I got my first email address. It was in a letter I had started to my friend Steph, who was home instead of at school that semester, battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

I fall into the last generation of people who remember life before the internet. While I may have used an AOL family account when I was still in high school, it wasn’t until junior year of college that I registered for my own email address. (Email was so brand new to the university I attended that, while I was too late to the registrar to snatch the username jen@, I was still early enough to request and receive jenjen@.)

In this snail-mail letter to Steph, which I never ended up sending, I wrote with exaggerated excitement about how we would now be able to email each other and avoid long-distance call charges. Over winter break earlier that year, I had visited Steph at her home in Yardley, PA where she showed me her computer station in the finished basement and demonstrated what she meant by “chatting” online with strangers (particularly fellow fans of Seinfeld and Friends). I must have realized it then, but truly it wasn’t until years later…

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Jen Sonstein Maidenberg
Human Parts

Dreamwork practitioner, researcher, writer. Healthfully obsessed with dreams, time, & memory. To learn about one-on-one dreamwork, visit jenmaidenberg.com