I can remember all the way back, but right now I just want to remember part of the way back to a time when I was in grade school, and extremely frustrated that any portion of my day needed to be spent doing something other than making art on my computer. By this time I had been through a string of wonderful (and wonderfully frustrating) Amiga computers, and had graduated to some type of beige Mac running something between OS 5 and OS7. The Amiga had "died" so I felt sadness but no guilt for moving on. The trash can had just become shaded with a an opulent range of grey tones and I thought that meant my system must be really powerful to be able to handle such nuanced rendering, plus it was called a "PowerMac" for the first time so... Just saying. Power.
I was making "games" in HyperCard, and listening to music in the background, because my computer could multitask enough to play a CD while I worked. The crashes were brutal, but my productivity was probably higher back then than it may ever be again because: youth, passion, no job, no internet. (By the way, let's stop capitalizing "Internet" like it's some kind of God. I don't care about your reasons.)
If I wanted to show somebody something really cool I made on my computer, I would walk to the phone (which at this time had not yet become grafted to my body), call them, and invite them over. They were usually excited to come.
Back then how you did this was, they pushed a button at your front door that made a sort of annoying sound inside your house. You checked through a hole to make sure they were the correct person, and if they were you would let them in, brew a pot of coffee, give them some, and then walk physically over to the computer. Two chairs meant you could both sit down and see what was on the screen. So kind of like YouTube or Instagram but better.
If what I made was really cool, I could also submit it to a disk club, which is where people like me sit at home waiting for long boxes of floppy disks to arrive in the mail so they can watch the latest Eric Schwartz animation of Amy the Squirrel and listen to a MOD file from Europe which is quite possibly an arrangement of 'Take On Me.' If you got something included in a disk, that's pretty much "fame."
Anyway, I don't want to get too far into the whole "walked ten miles in the snow both ways thing" because what I'm really trying to tell you is just that this was great. The focus was intense and the computer was the most powerful tool any artist could have aside from ability and time.
Fast forward to now: Computers are still the most powerful tool for the artist, but they come with heaps and heaps of obligation, distraction, sales pitches, nags, and junk mail. They are little unpaid jobs all in themselves. You need to keep them updated, secure, and patched. You need to make sure your licenses are all in order so that when your programs call home they get the right answer. You're the IT guy, the mail guy, and the whole public relations department. See what else you can get around to once you've finished with that stuff.
When I was young, you didn't need a computer to "manage your music" because your music managed itself just fine on the shelf. It was already lossless, and in a portable format. You didn't need to update your operating system (ever) because with no public internet, there were no security threats.
There was a time not very long ago when you could sit down at your computer and not worry about it also representing your mail, financial stress, three different bosses and their moods, five project managers, and two angry relatives who heard something about you that deeply concerned them. Your computer was a "you" thing. Now it's a "them" thing.
Used to be, you sat down and went straight for the art tools, and you started to work. Now, you can do that, but if you do, you're probably ignoring something pressing. Back then, there was no expectation that you would even be reachable. If you got a call at home at night, it was probably actually important. These days that damn little mail bell is either dinging out loud or dinging in your head. It's like and entire world of panhandlers have found a direct route to hack into our minds. This and feature bloat are roughly the reasons that George R. R. Martin types his epic stories on a DOS machine running WordStar.
I know a musician who keeps it basic on a Mac Classic and some DAT decks. His stuff sounds great.
The fact is, computers have already been as powerful as we needed them to be for almost all creative tasks (except for 3D modeling, which I will never care about) for a very long time now. I have been able to paint the exact same picture on my computer since the '90s. I've been able to write the exact same story on my computer since the '80s. Modern computers are adding horsepower just so they can sell us things and stress us the fuck out.
When Windows 8 first launched, I knew exactly what I was looking at: a kiosk. This is an interface that I'm expected to bring into my own home so that other people can bother me and take my money. I'm glad there was plenty of backlash about that.
Computers need to be harnessed. They do not need to be harnesses. This is your tool for making things you love that you can share with the world. It's great that computers can now help with the sharing -- that you're no longer mailing a floppy disk to the UK and hoping to hear back. But sharing should still account for about 5% of your total time at the machine.
These days it is more important than ever to remember that your computer is not for "them" -- it's for you.