The technology that is supposedly making our lives easier is not. In many ways, it has made life very difficult, especially for those who are older than 45 and who are burned out by the complexity of life today.
Instead of a person answering at a company, you get the nightmare of voice mail, now using voice (non) recognition, so that you find yourself screaming at a computer that doesn’t recognize what you’re saying. That’s usually followed by hitting random numbers in desperation, trying to either find a real person or the right department. It’s not easier. It’s abuse of customers. And it’s just about saving money.
You can’t repair newer cars in your garage and even changing the oil yourself is not possible on some of the newest. A technocrat described driverless cars being the norm in the next 15 years where you’re, in essence, being driven by computer code that may or may not have bugs in it. The recent crash of one was an ominous look at things to come. Imagine trying to integrate these “driverless” cars with texting and obnoxious manual drivers. The mind reels.
For every website where you have an account you have to remember “Usernames” and “Passwords.” The Post It notes where they’re written are either curling up with age on your desk or already in the trash. It is not funny to be locked out of a doctor’s site you need to get on, because your tired mind can’t remember what combinations you used to get in. And there’s always more characters needed to protect from criminals trying to steal your info.
Every product you buy requires maintenance or some nonsense you have to pencil in on your schedule. They’ll tell you that monthly, you need to do this or use this expensive conditioning product we happen to sell for $20 a bottle. My Keurig coffee maker is a prime example. It’s 18 months old, and the vinegar descaling – the descaling on the cheap – didn’t work and now it doesn’t work at all. Utter fail. We had a home once where the previous owners had installed a spa tub with jets on it in the main bathroom. Fantastic, right? The manual said we had to buy this product from them and “once a month” do this and that and this and that to make sure “residue” didn’t build up from soap scum. It did anyway. As IF a busy mom has time for that nonsense. With two young children to bathe at the time, I remember saying, “Just give me a plain old bath rub I can scrub with Comet cleanser. Clean and white, for $1.50 a can. ”
Tom and I have both said we would gladly move to a 1960’s era house in terms of technology. Everything manual or basic. TV’s that didn’t require six remotes and hocus pocus so you can get the local TV channels. TV’s like ours that I just read can be turned into listening devices because of the way they are made. Great. Give me a phone on the wall. Not a “smart” phone where people text a sentence—that’s what comprises relationship now. Hey, ball’s in your court, honey. Your friend just wrote, “How ya doing?” Nobody has time for an actual phone call much less a visit.
Yes, I hate modern life and what it’s done to the level of complexity. Just the digital photo nightmare is bad enough. I can’t delete this blog, because 10 years of our family’s life is on here. Videos I don’t know how to download are on here. If I delete this, they’ll be lost, and it’s our daughter’s childhood she will someday value. All the photo files on the computer (yes, they’re safely on a “cloud” somewhere, i.e. another computer at a tech giant) but how will my kids ever access that? We’ve forgotten the username and password. Again. (Oh, and the computer I’m writing on is telling me I have to pay more money to update my virus protection by a certain date or be at the mercy of the dark lords of hackery. It’s extortion, but who can afford to not pay it?)
It’s only going to get worse. Technocracy ultimately is going to destroy us. Mental health, social interaction, all of it has worsened in our high tech world. Yes, good has been done in certain areas. Overall, most of us over a certain age would return gladly to a simpler time when neighbors would check on each other, when people had real friends who showed up with a pot of soup when you were sick instead of sending a cheery text. “Get well soon!” A smiley face emoji is a bonus.
Tom and I were talking today about all the things we would like to simplify in our lives if we could. But the truth is, so much is out of our hands, it’s not even very possible to do anymore, particularly when you have grandchildren living far away (Facetime lets us see them), and when your isolation will only increase by shutting off your computer. Everybody else is in cyberspace. Be there or live alone even before you are elderly and unable to travel.
It’s sad that this is the way life is now. I yearn for the old simplicity, even of the 1980’s when my meanderings on this blog wouldn’t have been possible. I’m not even kidding. But this is how we communicate now. Some irony there as I write for the readers as far away as Australia. It’s not going to slow down any time soon. What would you like to go back to if you could? Even with inconveniences? I’ll bet a lot of people feel as I do. I read this article today on a related issue. People are supposedly more connected than ever, but even the young are feeling the social isolation. There is no app for real friendship and human contact. Robots and artificial intelligence are all taking this to an even more psychotic level. It’s a problem of our times.