Sunday, December 5, 2010
Does it have to be this complicated?
DISCLAIMER: This is a rant brought on by my extensive exposure to technology this weekend. There's no Buddhist calm here whatsoever.
I am on the verge of Luddism. I am sick of technology, sick of convenience, sick of things that make my life "easier". They deliver - but at a price.
1. Let us begin with the cell phone. It's a terrific thing - particularly if you're lost in a scary place or your pre-teen daughter wants to roam the mall with her buddies without you. That, for me, is where it ends.
It has become an appendage, it makes us accessible no matter where we are - and people expect us to answer, damn it.
It's transformed many jobs into 24/7 nightmares because we're always hooked in, always accessible. Time off has become something that means "I'm not at my desk, but you can reach me."
Kids now text rather than talk. They prefer it. Explain to me what the world will become now. Tell me how it's a good thing.
2. Television. It's held sway over us for two generations, maybe three now? It's slowly dying thanks to the computer (that's next) but it's still screaming at us. It began with variety shows, comedy, song and silly sit coms, many of which were live. It is now bloated with not only canned, mindless games shows and sit coms with laugh tracks that make my ears bleed, but reality shows that make me want to find a mountaintop cave where I can move in and pull a stone across the entrance. It is content made to fill the space between the ads.
And the ads! They're loud, they're long and they sell to a society that I cannot believe is really ours, though it must be. I was sick yesterday and sat on the couch for several hours flipping through Saturday morning television. That used to belong to the kids when I was young. Yesterday I found two cartoons - the rest were either selling something or trying to make me enough of a voyeur to sit still until the next ad: perky people encouraged me to exercise with them, perky people tried to sell me hair product, a girdle for my entire body, serious actors tried to solve a bloody crime, naked people speaking Spanish were arguing in bed - when I flipped back there was a woman in a sexy waitress costume and a strange midget man dressed in a clown suit. There were Christians pitching Christ, business experts pitching investment, political experts pitching policy. Then there were the ads: drugs to improve my sex life, drugs to make me lose weight, drugs to handle the diabetes caused by eating too much, fast food at a bargain price, drugs for the cardiac disease caused by fast food...my stomach, already iffy, heaved.
3. Computers. They've revolutionized our world. We can see all over the world, learn anything we want, even share what we know. We can email anyone who has an email address. We have Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs (like this one), MySpace and I don't know what else...there are a gazillion ways to communicate our no doubt very important and serious thoughts (like these) to the world. We LOVE to communicate. Particularly if the only feedback is "like" or a short comment. We can find people, stalk people, block people - and never leave our chairs. We're switching books to computers, music to computers, our entertainment to computers. We now are supposed to exercise with computers - hey, video games are good for you - the whole family can watch a screen and exercise together!
Automated Teller Machines (did you remember that's what ATM stands for?) replace dealing with people, problem solving, getting necessary things done within business hours. 24/7 banking. 24/7 gasoline. 24/7 customer service. 24/7 restaurant food. The world is so freaking convenient that no one ever has any time off.
It is ten of nine on a Sunday morning. I am taking time off. I am turning off my computer and going for a walk. It is cold. It is sunny. Wherever you are, you should try it.