Confession: technology is crazy, stupid!

3 Nov

A few months back, my wife bought me an iPhone; I’m pretty sure she’s regretted it everyday since. She claims to be looking into support groups that help people who have a problem with their cell phone. I told her I’m not addicted; I’m simply exploring it and learning about all of the thousands of helpful apps. I’m know that somewhere out there is a programmer who is writing an app that will help me convince my wife that not only am I not playing with my iPhone too much, I’m not playing with it enough.

But in all seriousness, the iPhone is pretty amazing and I find myself wondering on a daily basis how I ever lived without one. Something tells me I was simply more resourceful, but I like to pretend like I was barely getting by before this invention.

It seems like ages ago when I would have to leaf through hundreds of thousands of dull-colored yellow pages looking for the number to the local movie theater. Then there was always the dilemma of whether they listed it under “theaters” or “movies.” I never remembered which one it was. Then there was the robotic woman’s voice that would slowly read out each movie, its run time, rating and all of the possible show times. Her voice haunts me to this day. Now I simply have an app that lists all of the movie times in my area, or I use my voice controlled Google search app to find the exact theater I’m looking for.

Technology is amazing, and it has made our lives unbelievably easy, but it does have its down sides. Before my iPhone days, I always carried a mini notebook and pen on my persons to scribble down all of the things I loved or hated about life at that particular moment. Sure I don’t miss forgetting to take the pen out of my pants before washing them, only to have the pen explode in the dryer and have the ink permanently heated into every thread of my clothing; but there is something about writing on actual pieces of paper. Lately I find myself typing all of my random thoughts into the notepad app on my phone, and although it looks like I’m typing on a legal pad, it’s just not the same.

I expect this transformation is similar to how I used to look things up in an encyclopedia for background information, or how I used to look thinks up in a dictionary to check the spelling. Eventually Internet search engines and wikipedia killed the encyclopedia and spell check killed the dictionary.  Now it seems like people don’t even have time for spell check. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone claim, “yes, I’m sure that’s how you spell it, I just Googled it to make sure.” Nine times out of ten they using their cell phone to Google instead of a computer.

But the Internet isn’t the only example of how technology has changed things. I remember back in the good old days when you could spot a crazy person simply because they were carrying on a conversation with themselves. Nowadays that’s not so much the case, and it’s a pretty tough misconception to break. You don’t know how many times I’ve thought to myself, “Wow, the guy in the really expensive suit that just climbed out of that Jaguar is talking to himself? He must be the most well off crazy guy on earth.” But then I spot the blue tooth headset and realize the prick is probably just sealing a multiple-million dollar deal on his seventh home before walking in to eat at a five star restaurant with his fake-breasted bleach-blonde girlfriend. But you know me, I’m not one to generalize or judge; he could’ve been donating millions to the charity of his choice and meeting up with an under-privileged youth whom he mentors in his free-time.

And then there is plumbing. Who would’ve ever thought that technology could ruin something as easy as plumbing? I hate to get all Jerry Seinfeld on you, but what is the deal with those sensors? I remember when I could simply walk into a public restroom and turn on a faucet, and BAM! Water would flow like boxed wine at high school prom party. I truly miss those days. Now the only way I can wash my hands in public is act like I’m auditioning for Grease and do the hand jive in front of the sink for 10 minutes. By the time I get the damn sink to turn on, my forearms are more beat than when I discovered the Victoria Secret’s catalog in the mail when I was in ninth grade.

The most frustrating thing about them is, half of the time I can’t get the faucets to turn on with my best Danny Zuko impression, but the minute I walk away, the sensor for the sink next to me catches my movement, as does the hand dryer which is 20 feet away. I’m left standing in the middle of a haunted bathroom as the sink dispenses water at its own convenience, the toilet flushes on its own and the hand dryer turns on and off over and over again trying to mimic the sound of a chainsaw.

But the sinks aren’t nearly as bad as the sensors on sit down toilets. I have to turn into the Crocodile hunter in order to properly install one of those tissue ass-protectors. “Shhhh, you’ve got to move very slowly, otherwise you’ll trigger the sensor just about the time you lay the tissue paper in place. If that happens your ass-protector will be flushed away to the land down under.”

I’m sure the sensors are supposed to cut down on touching sink and toilet handles, which I’m sure have are a cesspool of germs, but 90 percent of the time the places with sensors also have a bathroom door which requires you to pull it open in order to leave the premises. Sure, you may have managed to avoid germs at the toilet, and at the sink, but because the sink sensors didn’t work for roughly half of the people, you get to touch everyone’s ass, penile and vaginal-inspired germs on the door handle exiting the joint.

I feel that often times the people who invent the technology are geniuses, but those who implement it are jackasses.

Another thing technology killed was letting writing. When I was younger I had pen pals, people who lived across the country or across the world, and I would sit down every few weeks and ink a letter to them explaining all of the things that had been going on in my life. Then came email, goodbye letter writing. But at least with email I would still sit down and write friends a long letter, it just made it to them quicker and I got to save 34 cents or whatever it cost back then to send a letter. Then came cell phones with unlimited calling plans and free-long distance, goodbye emails. Still, this was nice because at least you got to hear the person’s voice on the other end of the phone. Then came text messages, goodbye phone calls. Text messages allow people to stay in touch without actually writing words in any known language, and who doesn’t love that?
“OMG, Lu2.”
“I love you so much.”
“Oh my God, I love you too.”

Technology has made it easier for us to communicate and stay in touch, but I feel that the level of communication has actually gotten worse than the old letter writing days. We may communicate more often, but it seems as though we’re saying much less. Now through things like Facebook it’s possible for me to basically stay in touch with nearly everyone I went to high school with, even though the majority of them live 2,293 miles away where we grew up.

But I don’t really stay in touch with these people, I’m basically just linked to them on a Web site that allows me to see photos of them, what type of animals they are caring for in FarmVille, and find out how long they would survive in a horror movie or what 80’s film defines them the best. It also allows me to stay abreast of each and every thing that annoys them or makes them lol, as well as what they ate or plan to eat for each and every meal. I know all of this, but I have no clue what they’ve been up to for the last ten or so years since I saw them last.

Like I said, technology is great, but at the same time it’s an extremely slippery slope. Technology allows us to get lazy and turn our brains off, while at the same time feeling super smart for being able to update our Facebook status via our cell phones.

I feel like I need to take a stand and write my senator a letter about the possible harms of technology. Or… I guess I can always just find him on Facebook, and then using the WordPress app on my iPhone I can post this rant on my blog and then email him the link. That would be easier and it would save me 34 cents, or whatever it costs to mail a letter these days.


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