Technofool

11Oct13

Despite appearances, I am not actually a Luddite, but on the other hand, nor does shiny technology shut down my discrimination glands. The crowds of young people who lose sleep outside my place of work, just off Regent Street, every time Apple coughs up another costly nonsense-pellet are a source of amazement to me. Face it, kids, new isn’t always better.

Ferexample, paying for things with cash is faster than paying with plastic. Self-service machines in supermarkets don’t work very well. Automated call-handling systems are sometimes a pain in the arse. These, however, are mild, low-grade niggles compared to three recent events that have crystallised some 21st century shortcomings in a ghastly glare of white horror.

  1. Mapping on phones. I was very shaken last week when I got lost near the M4. The map wouldn’t load and 15 seconds of genuine alarm took five minutes of self-soothing to offset. Thank God for paper maps and compass. I’ll never trust a phone map again.
  2. We’ve just changed TV/internet/phone provider, and the telly now takes three to four minutes to come on, thanks to the mystifying pause the box needs to calibrate with its master, despite sitting on top of it. The ‘Nearly ready…Nearly ready’ onscreen messages do nothing to make the time pass any faster. My brother was given a huge valve radio by an elderly wireless enthusiast when we were barely teenagers. Even that took only 90-odd seconds to come on, and the sound was magnificent – rich, golden-timbred, a PG Wodehouse of a radio – and the tuning was so fine you could pick up Soviet stations. Now the telly takes double that time, the signal is so weak the screen is grainy and the catch-up breaks off for a spot of buffering. By those lights we’re looking at 1926 – 1; 2013 – nil.
  3. And this one is hot off the press. IM. A colleague has just announced that her best friend has at last worked up the courage to ask out a bloke she likes. Twenty minutes ago she suggested a trip to the pub and has spent the last 10 minutes watching as he types, deletes and retypes a response. Doesn’t he know that she can see that? The agony. Is he blowing her off? Trying to formulate something witty yet cool? Pretending to move to New York? God only knows, but whatever it is, it’s peeling her self-esteem in strips.
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