Lately I’ve been watching a lot of this guy Marques Brownlee‘s tech videos on the YouTube. He’s a very likeable super nerd who apparently knows everything about everything that’s worth knowing about computers, tablets, smartphones, apps, operating systems etc., and he’s only nineteen(!) years old and much wiser than his age would indicate.
Watching his videos gives me an irrational urge to go out and buy a smartphone which is so out of character for me it’s in a different galaxy or even universe, partly Luddite as I am. But there’s so much to choose from out there; Windows phones, iPhones, Android phones, even Ubuntu phones, small ones, big ones, phone/tablet hybrids so I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Add to that my disdain for being hooked up to the cyber world 24/7 and everybody knowing everything about me and my recent rants against Google and Facebook for being douchebags and my cognitive dissonance on the subject becomes even more obvious. Smartphones may be a trick that this dog is too old to learn properly. Or the straw that broke the camel’s back; pick your metaphor.
I actually own a cell phone (non-smart) that was given too me years ago accompanied by a pay-as-you-go plan. You could roll over your minutes one month, but after that you forfeited whatever was left in your account. Which I think is banditry of the third kind (that’s a movie reference from before Marques was even born) at high noon. It’s been sitting quite dead in the glove compartment of my car for years now and I don’t even know how to reactivate it.
I’m also quite unhappy with the planned obsolescence policy all phone/tablet makers seem to employ as their marketing strategy. Add a new hyped up feature, a new wizzbang super-duper trick to the device a couple of times a year or so and all the millennials bite and line up days in advance of the release date outside stores to get the latest magic phone assembled by suicidal slaves in China.
Clearly I’m not a millennial (actually I’m a mid-to-late boomer; I’ve got more than a decade left before I qualify for Medicare if they don’t change the rules and if I should be so lucky to live that long) and not the target demographic of the tech companies. I thought it was a big deal when we got color TV way back in the day. I bought my first computer ca 1990. No mouse, no Windows. Everything had to be opened through DOS and multitasking was an unknown concept. Viruses spread by infected floppy disks (google it if you’re unfamiliar with ancient technology). It had a 25 megabyte hard drive, a quarter meg of RAM and a clock speed of 25 Hz and was considered bleeding edge at the time. Truth is it was more like a glorified typewriter that you also could play Pacman on. I didn’t get on the Internet until 2000 because I was convinced it was a fad that would go away.
I was able to keep up with the breakneck speed of tech development for a while, even taught myself how to build websites, do affiliate marketing by bombarding the Internet with mini sites (literally thousands built by hand without any auto-generating software) and make some pocket change out of it. Then some douchebag came along and invented Web 2.0, social media, wearable tech and my aging CPU (the one inside my head) wasn’t quite able to keep up anymore. I can still see the train in front of me, but it’s pulling away and the image is blurred by the dust it’s throwing up.
I’m still hanging on by the skin of my teeth, but I think it’s gonna be a long while (if ever) before I buy a smartphone, or a smart watch, or Google Glass or whatever the next fancy gadget they come up with. Because what the fuck would I do with it? Play Pacman?