Archive | 9:48 am

I think we’re starting to sound like old ladies.

22 Jan

When I arrived at my friend’s house for dinner this week, she opened the door clutching a remote and looking frazzled. She was trying to get music from their cable provider to play through the stereo without the television being on. “I know it’s ridiculous to let this stress me out,” she said, “But it’s completely annoying. When did it become so difficult to do something simple?”

I looked at her remote and could see the problem: it was like the Ferrari of remotes. “What all does this control?” I asked her, intimidated by its eight bazillion buttons.

“Everything,” she said. “My husband has programmed it so that everything is driven by this one remote. It probably controls me, for all I know!”

I cracked up, imagining a “Power Down Spouse” button. And then realized that most people would probably like a remote like that – something to pause their children or mute their partners.

You know technology has jumped the shark when your friend, an IT professional, is shaking a remote, saying, “When did it all get so complicated?”

HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Did you know? The French version of Hal was named Carl.

“I mean,” she continued, “the other day I was thinking about phones. The new iPhone has a feature that will read text messages to you. How crazy is that? We went from leaving voicemails for each other, to sending text messages to each other, to having computers read these text messages to us. It just seems like we’re ADDING steps instead of removing them.”

So true.

That has been kicking around in my head this week as more than one friend has apologized for being slow responding to me because their new year’s resolutions include technology fasts. I like it – the idea of completely unplugging one day a week to regain our power over the devices that increasingly control us.

Otherwise, we might as well start naming our children Hal. Or Carl.