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Monday, March 5, 2012

Did I Miss That Day?

I prefer simple things in life. Like crazy winter hats and costume jewels. Ribbon, paper, fine tip black felt pens, plain white gift bags. Actual letters in the mail. A newspaper delivered first thing in the morning. Real books.

But we're surrounded by technology that claims to make our world smaller, faster, easier. I clearly don't move as quickly as the times change. When I think about it, it wasn't terribly long ago that I was in an office hearing the telltale screech of a dial up modem. When I travelled with colleagues we shared a laptop computer. One of my favorite people scared more than a few coworkers by throwing a computer mouse (remember those? approximately the size of a potato?) so hard that it shattered noisily against her office wall. These aren't ye olde time stories. These are actual occurrences that have happened while I've owned the same LL Bean luggage, Levis and countless other wardrobe staples that don't seem to have become outmoded.

To the best of my knowledge, in all this time, I've been an otherwise engaged member of society. But I somehow missed a few updates.

Despite a healthy eBay purchasing history, a huge appreciation for all that Amazon can bring to my door, all day hysterical text banter with the Mister, and even blogging, so much of technology has left me behind. Or rather I left it in 2002. When there were still curly piles of thermal fax paper (Go ahead. I'll pause here so you can Google it.) strewn about offices. Remember it piling up overnight from fax spam? Could you spell facsimile? Uh huh. Then why isn't it called a fac machine? Can't stop now to noodle that through because time's a wasting just keeping current.

Somehow since then, so much has changed and I apparently missed a day. Or a decade. I must have been building one giant wooden train track the day it was announced that it is no longer forbidden to touch the screen of your phone. In fact, that's how they work now. What? You'd already heard?

Well, then maybe you know what happened to "Ask Jeeves." That was SO good. I saw a commercial for some ridiculous "app" (don't get me started) that demonstrated people asking questions into their phones and having their phones provide an answer. Yes. I am familiar with that technology. It is called "Ask Jeeves" circa 1997. Only now with audio. On a cell phone.

Lots of people have told me the countless things I could do with an iPad or most anything beginning with lower case "i." But i'm not entirely convinced i am missing much. It is heresy in some circles to admit, but I'm not a member of the Apple cult. I'm tapping this out on a mac but don't feel any devotion toward it. I avoid the Apple store but am intrigued (there's that sneaky little "i" again) by the fixation on what they sell, service and promote. Intrigued in the same way that I'm intrigued by snake handlers, clowns, and vegetarians. I wouldn't want to sign up for the life myself, but there is clearly a big appeal for lots of people.

And those white pixilated squares that have seemingly popped up everywhere overnight? Absurd. You know the ones begging us to find out more about their store, brand, product? Apparently lots and lots of other people are eager to get information this way. Not me.

Maybe those people can also explain this: if we're supposed to touch the phone screens now, shouldn't the tiny, slippery faces be made for actual human fingers to manipulate? (Baby Sister, who zips through most every function - the camera, calculator, and on occasion the actual phone with errant calls to our handyman - would gladly demonstrate that the screen is perfectly sized her her teeny hands.) Maybe the folks who design phones are testing whether evolution really works and we'll develop little styluses where our digits are now.

Has anyone considered much technology of late could be a joke? Some days I have a sinking feeling that Allen Funt's offspring are lurking around the next corner, just about to burst with the news that we've all been big, giant rubes in thinking this silliness was all for real. "Play the tape again.  Watch those girls sticking their phones up against that sticker in cosmetics! Hysterical!  Now watch them do it again at Starbucks!"

Why in the world would I want to follow most any business or product on Facebook or Twitter is beyond me. And if they have something to tell me, presumably it won't be needed to be decoded. If we're going to operate on this code system, I say bring back the decoders tucked in the bottom of specially marked boxes of Cap'n Crunch (waiting again for the Googlers to catch up.). At least that way we'd be decoding over bowls of orange milky sweetness.

Is it possible to be a Luddite blogger? If so, it's what I'm going to put on my next business card. Hurry, and make room for it in your Rolodex. I'm running them off on my risograph now.

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