Monday, June 16, 2014

Technology and Me

I am a simple man—some would argue “in all definitions of the word.” And while I am very grateful to live in an era of iPads and Smartphones and Digital-This-es and High-Speed-6D-Thats, my admiration for these devices is exceeded only by my total lack of comprehension as to how they work. I do not refer to the scientific miracles that went into creating these devices, but rather how, once they’ve been created, I’m supposed to work with them. 

I stand in awe of technology, much as the earliest humans must have stood in awe of fire. Like probably the majority of humans not living in third-world countries, I have become utterly addicted to my computer. I have a cell phone not associated with any “Service” providing an infinite number of bells and whistles for which I simply have no need and in which I have no interest. Rather than paying the “Service” well upwards of $100 per month, I buy blocks of usage minutes. I do not text, and cannot understand the purpose for it. If I want to talk to someone, I’ll phone them. If I want to send them a message, I’ll use e-mail. 

My relationship with technology is not quite so adversarial as is my relationship with reality; technology simply ignores me and marches forward, and it is up to me to try to keep up with it as best I can. But it is none the less frustrating.

My life has two settings: “Bumbling along” and “Chaos.” If I am attempting to deal with something that has moving parts, I am on shaky ground. If electricity is involved, all bets are off. Instruction manuals are utterly beyond my comprehension. I consider them the Devil’s work. Their sole purpose, no matter how “user friendly” they claim to be, is to mislead and confuse. I have seldom made it through two paragraphs of any instruction manual without becoming totally frustrated. If diagrams are included, it’s even worse. I try to follow instructions. I really, really do. (“Insert Tab A into Slot B.”) Fine. “Attach part 1 to part 2” is possible only if there is only one way the two can be attached, and things go rapidly downhill from there. If any product I am considering buying includes the words “Some Assembly Required” I move on looking for one for which NO assembly is required. I have yet, in my entire life, to buy something for which “Some Assembly” is required without ending up with a piece missing or three left over, and any resemblance between the end product pictured on the box and what I end up producing is strictly coincidental.  

My television set has two remotes: one to turn on the TV via the cable box and control volume and “pause”, the other to change channels. Each remote has, for reasons I dare not even try to guess, at least 32 buttons, the purpose(s) of which are totally beyond my ken. Occasionally I will somehow accidentally press a wrong button (I am never aware of which button it was I pressed) and the TV will go blank. Nothing I do—nothing—will bring the picture back. I begin frantically pressing buttons—any buttons/all buttons—desperately trying to find the right one, even knowing as I’m doing it that I’m only making matters worse. And finally, after ten minutes of button-pushing and frustration building to fury, I will call my best friend Gary, who lives in the building next to mine, to ask him for help, and he will give up whatever he’s doing/watching to come over. Inevitably he will pick up one (not both) of the remotes, casually click one of the 32 buttons, and God returns to His heaven, and all’s right with the world until the next time. And there always is a next time.

Purchasing anything on line, changing passwords, filling out any type of form either online or on paper becomes an exercise in madness. I can and have spent half an hour or more on line dancing through hoops only to hit “Submit” to be told I’d done something wrong and having to start over from scratch. I will enter a password I have used for six years only to be told it is incorrect, search through records to find what I entered was, indeed correct, re-entering it, and being told yet again that it is incorrect. I am told to change the password (another time-consumer), receive confirmation of the new password, enter it where required, and am told it is incorrect.

It is to weep.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I may have mentioned this to you before, but I frustrate many of my friends because I don't load additional things on my phone. I use it for making calls and texting (yes, I find a value in texting, but that's a whole different response).

My other friends use to check in on flights, listen to music (if I want to listen to music, I'll turn the radio on or use my CD player), check sports scores (useless to me), the weather (I actually have loaded a weather app on my phone, which is useful when overseas), and tons of other things. Games even.

I use none of that and do you know what all that crap does to one's phone? It runs the battery down. I don't want to be out somewhere, actually need the damn phone and discover it is out of power.

For the record, IKEA directions for putting something together are mildly better than SEARS.