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 Aug 8 - 14, 2013 
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Wilde Humor

High-tech Headache

By M.J. Wilde

We can’t round a corner these days without being slapped in the punim by some seductive new piece of technology.

It’s becoming heinously difficult to indulge in special quiet moments to ourselves to just … think. Yeah. I believe it’s called thinking.

Every now and then, in a fit of positive imagination—that often begins with the question, “What if someday soon I have more money to spend on technology than I do to buy two cans of Vienna sausages on sale at Walmart?”—I take a little sightseeing trip to Best Buy … where I walk around trying to look like I can afford more than a battery.

On one of my recent trolls, I stumbled on a line of shiny new refrigerators. I know. Older folks—by older folks, I mean you—used to call them “iceboxes.” It was a fitting name as they were boxes containing ice that kept milk from curdling, eggs from hatching and butter, well, hard. Shut up.

And that’s pretty much what you’re supposed to use a fridge for. Keeping foodstuffs cold so’s they’ll last longer. Awesome, right? Apparently not awesome enough.

The first refrigerator I came across had the usual filtered water and ice cube-dispensing door deal. But it looked fancier than usual.

See, apparently a horde of consumers complained the fridge was just too boring. I mean there was nothing—zip, zero, nada—to do while you wait three seconds for the sophisticated machine to piss cold water into your waiting cup.

Heaven forbid you should spend even a few seconds away from technological bombardment. That would mean you'd have three seconds to think for yourself and perhaps even birth an original thought. And now—thanks to some lame idea wizard mainlining Ritalin—you can push a button to continue that conversation about the pros and cons of naval vacuuming you're having on Facebook with 700 of your closest friends. Woo-hoo! LOL! Or you can fill that three-second gap by blasting your face off with, well, whatever is on Pandora. Just push the button. G’head, poke it.

Don’t get me wrong. I dig computers and cool programs, and I’m all about making life easier for the masses. But, ultimately, this kind of thing doesn’t make life easier. This makes life stupid … stupider. More stupid.

Then again these extras don’t endanger anything but your brain cells—unlike all the stuff they put in cars these days. Don’t get me started. Too late.

As I noted earlier, helpful, efficiency-boosting technology is fabulous. GPS, for instance, is a godsend when roads are squiggly and your directions came from your great-grandmother … who’s never driven one of those newfangled “magic gas jalopies.” But I gotta say, the ability to read a map is an important skill to have—just as a part of a human's general knowledge base—but it’s a skill most people (yes, I mean you) don’t have anymore.

When I brought up cartographic illiteracy to a tech-savvy friend of mine, he said he likes having somewhere else to store directions so they don’t clutter up his brain. As though his brain was some low-RAM digital camera and when the memory got full, he was gonna need to purge information to make room for incoming data.

Hey, Sparky, your brain can’t get full. It’s impossible for your brain to get overfull. Just … FYI.

GPS is one thing—a darn useful thing on occasion—but now they’re trying so hard to make things convenient in your car that it’s downright distracting.

Some cars now have iPhone-ready buttons for your hands-free gabbing convenience. But wait! Access to your email, Facebook account and hell, for all I know, your prostate exam, is right there on your steering wheel. I jerk the wheel every time I try to set the cruise control on my 2007 Saturn Ion. And they want me to steer straight when my boyfriend and/or girlfriend posts naughty pics of me on Facebook? (You know, if I had a boyfriend and/or girlfriend. And was, um, naughty.)

Anyway, it’s all just too much. Can’t a fridge just be a fridge? And when I’m in my car, I just wanna be left alone. I just wanna drive. And listen to music. And dictate my column into a digital recorder. And eat. And change my pants and shoes. And brush my hair and teeth. And eat again.

And think. That’s it, mostly. Can’t I just raid the fridge or drive my car in peace and just think?

Great. Now I’ve done it. I think my brain is full. Gah!

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