Wednesday, July 22, 2015


by Rob Cottignies

To begin, a sad story:
            Picture it- New Jersey, 2014. My phone communication needs had been met for the past six-and-a-half years by my Motorola Razr. It worked just as well as the first day. I could make calls, text. No et cetera. And I loved it. I loved my Razr. When I needed to text without looking, I could feel those glorious buttons and send my message with unwavering confidence.
            Mid-January came along and I was set to go on vacation. I wanted to pack lightly but realized bringing a laptop, GPS, and camera would be bulky. 'Ugh', I thought, 'maybe it's time to upgrade'. After much hesitation, I bought a garbage "smart" phone that worked horribly. This thing would turn off randomly, not send or receive texts at will, not download anything, much more et cetera. But it frustratingly met my needs for several months. However I would always look longingly at my Razr, which was proudly displayed on my nightstand.
            When September happened, a long trip was a few weeks away. That stupid phone had sort of prevailed during a ten-day stint but six weeks with it would have driven me to insanity. Or, more likely, I would have thrown it into a river. But that's polluting. Think green everyone!
            So I got a big boy phone in September of 2014. It is very convenient and honestly I would not go back to the Razr but I still catch myself staring at it, remembering the best of times…
            Speaking of phones, I recently heard a story about some kid who questioned his mom about why she said 'Hang up the phone.' Think about that. Kids today have no idea about a phone having two distinct parts connected by a wire. All they know is buttons, which most current house phones have as well. Call over, push END, throw the phone across the room. That's how I finish conversations, anyway.
            To quote Louis CK on technology, "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy."
I think he's spot-on and there are two reasons:
            1) Instant gratification- People always want things NOW. They often think they need things immediately but that's just not true. The store-to-door time for pizza delivery hasn't really changed since its inception. NASA has always counted down from ten before a shuttle launch. Hell, even microwaveable meals still take 5-7 minutes to heat. Nobody questions these things. But when your stupid friend texts you a video of her horrible cat sleeping in a shoebox you freak out if it takes more than five seconds to download. You're awful and I hate you. And your stupid friend. And her horrible cat. And shoes.
            2) Need to complain- When a new piece of technology comes out, what's the first thing you hear about it? What doesn't work, or at least not as well as the previous version. And how different are these things, really? 'Oh, the iPhone 5 doesn't have as many megapixels as the 4.' You're talking about a CAMERA on your PHONE that fits into your POCKET and allows you to look up weather, talk to anyone, and lock your bloody GARAGE DOOR!!! The word 'spoiled' comes to mind.
            And speaking of complaining, have you ever heard somebody complain about doing laundry? Today, doing laundry goes something like this: Put clothes in a machine, add goop, push a button, eat a sandwich. After the machine tells us the clothes have been fully washed, we put those clothes into another machine (commonly right next to the first one), add a lint napkin thing, push another button, eat another sandwich.
            In olden days (and probably in some weird parts of the current world), doing laundry went something like this: Put horribly-soiled clothes and soap into a basket, put basket on your head, grab your machete and walk nine miles to a river, fight bears and hyenas and thieves along the way, walk into the river, try to not get eaten by river monsters, wash each article of clothing individually for seven hours, put sort-of clean clothes back into the basket, put basket on your head, walk nine miles back home while battling lions and fiends, hang clothes to dry, hope it doesn't monsoon, make dinner for fifty people.
            Doesn't that sound awful? No sandwiches at all! Unless sandwiches were what dinner was. If so, no need to complain.
            Cars are where my major technological fears reside. I currently have a 2010 car which I plan to drive until the engine falls out. I am very afraid, however, about the status of cars when that unfortunate time comes along. They'll probably have all these fancy features like wi-fi and push-button ignition and motorized cup holder covers.
            This just in: Cars already have all of these things and I'm furious.
            Remember car alarms? Of course they still happen but when was the last time somebody heard one and, concerned, said, 'Oh my heavens! Let us phone the local police brigade at once should there be a vicious car criminal afoot'? Fact: 1992.
            My fear is that I won't be able to buy a normal car that simply goes from A to B and has a CD player. (ABCD thing not intentional.) Yes, I still buy CDs and shall continue doing so until they and/or I go obsolete. That's all I will want but Harry the car salesman will offer me vehicles with tons of features that I won't want. And when cars drive themselves (which either all or none of them will have to do), you will find me far away from roads, wandering fields and hills and deserts in search of simplicity.
            If movies like The Terminator have taught us anything, it's that technology is evil and should be avoided at all costs before it kills us. Of course, it took technology to make that movie. And I typed this article on technology while you are likely using different technology to read it. Some would call this a paradox. Others would call this irony. I call it a good time to end this rambling.
            To close, I think technology can be good when used properly. Some inventions were truly great and necessary. The wheel led to cars. Letters led to e-mail. Stage plays led to television shows. (So why are there still stage plays? Do people even say 'stage plays'?) What's next? Automatic and/or flying cars, for sure. Maybe a meal in a pill. Teleportation. People living just a hundred years ago couldn't even fathom our current world. Their faces would explode. And they'd probably burn you as a witch. And you'd deserve it.
            Point is, stop whining about technology and everything else. Enjoy your life, read a book, and talk to people but leave me alone.
            Don't make me enter the world code…

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