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.

6 Responses to “I think we’re starting to sound like old ladies.”

  1. Mind Margins January 22, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I certainly could have used one of those people controlling remotes when I taught fifth grade. My ex taught high school and one of his students could mess with the slide projector via his phone. It drove my ex batty until he figured out what was going on. I have friends who have given up Facebook as their resolution for the year. I try to stay off the computer as much as possible on the weekends. Of course, it doesn’t stop me from the new iPad . . .

  2. dribblingpensioner January 22, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Technology in the home is going to far i think, its ok for young people they grow up with it, but for us older its getting harder.
    We can manage the tv remote anything else we leave it to the grandson 🙂
    I am good with the computer and can help others out, because i can understand it.

  3. Kimberly Pugliano January 22, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    You know what? I’ve started leaving my phone behind more and more often. ANYTIME I’m with my husband the phone stays home. And when he’s home in the evening, it goes on mute. It’s kinda liberating.

  4. bonnie January 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I felt totally vindicated yesterday. My 30-something son in the tech field, who had been listening to my complaints about a new device he thought should be totally intuitive, looked at it and said “You’re right; it’s not easy to use.”

    • pithypants January 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Apparently the Tech Curve now stops at 18. Can’t wait for this generation to hit the Wall and understand why we’re all bitching. 🙂

  5. thesinglecell January 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    I had a friend in high school – that long ago! – who used to joke about using the remote to mute people or stop people. My sister knew how to work the VCR (ha, remember those?) when she was 2. And now I have to show my parents how to use the remote just for TV. Just the TV. Because the “all on” button never turns everything on… or off… and then you have to hit the “cable” button to change the channel, but if you want to watch a DVD…

    Neil Postman warned we would amuse ourselves to death. He may have been right.

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