“I will stop wearing black when they invent a darker color.” Wednesday Addams
Technology will be the death of me yet.
Now, I’m not a Luddite by any means, and I do enjoy computers far more than is probably healthy for anyone here when there are fish to catch, but still, there is a limit to what any one person should have to endure in his or her life.
I was sound asleep when my phone (which serves as my alarm clock) came to life to inform me that it was time for a major update, and asked if I wanted to proceed with the update now or wait.
Now, we are told there is no such thing as a stupid question, but that’s obviously a lie.
For one thing, it was two o’clock in the morning. How can anyone make a reasoned decision at that hour? I don’t wear my glasses to bed, so all I could see was the bright screen lighting up the room. Two or three synapses began to fire off low-voltage responses that mostly resulted in a muffled, “Wha …?”
My eyes began an arduous journey, making every effort to uncross and gain focus, and just as the App’s query began to organize itself into something resembling words, the screen faded back to black. I have learned that mean’s “Time’s Up” and the phone has no desire to fiddle around awaiting a reply. Sigh.
I closed my peepers and pondered the mysteries of life for a Nano-second or two and went back to sleep. The phone’s sensors, being well-programmed to look for signs of sound sleep (or death), leapt into action – trumpets blaring, klaxons clanging, lights flashing, and buzzers buzzing: “Major Update Needed … Do it Now? Wait Until Later?”
I knew I had only moments to make a decision that would affect the future of life as we know it on this planet. Groggily, I started to weigh the benefits of updating now (to get the phone off my back) or pressing the WAIT button, which meant it would likely go into hibernation for another five minutes before going to Defcon 1, insisting on a different response.
I know how computers think. I don’t even know why they ask the question, because they consider any answer other than “Yes” to be an insult. They are like a three-year old. They do not like “No”. They do not like waiting. They have no sense of time or of timing.
Why on earth would the cell phone want to update its system at two in the morning, I wondered. Is there some programmer over in Helsinki who’s just gotten to work in her Dilbert Cubical, cup of coffee in hand, fluffy pink slippers on her feet, whose sole job is to press the SEND button on her computer interface when it’s 2:00 a.m. in Montana (because that’s when the bars close and people can make optimal decisions)?
Who knows? I don’t even know why they give people an option, because there really is no option. It will poke and prod and annoy the heck out of the user until they agree to do what the phone wants to do.
So I decided to update my device then and there. I could visualize little coal miners going to work inside the cell’s power pack, shoveling teeny bits of coal into the tiny steam engines that make it work, and over the next few minutes the device flashed on and off, alternatively plunging the room into darkness, then bathing it in a beautiful lightshow (broadcast straight from the Aurora Borealis, I presume), all the while humming and buzzing and bleeping away to its little heart’s content.
After a few minutes it finished the floor show (missing only a brass pole and dancer), told me it had successfully completed its task, then went back to sleep – something I was no longer able to do. Sigh.
I guess that’s why it’s called a cell phone. You may be “free” from a landline’s tether, but you’re shackled to five ounces of a digital Bubba who is NOT to be trifled with.
I suppose it’s a small price to pay for progress, but is it really worth it? That’s what I want to know. Stay tuned; I’ll let you know tomorrow at 2 a.m. with an update in this, our valley.