Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bigger Badder?

Remember when people called the word ‘applications’?  I miss it – dearly, even.  This shortening of the word to Apps in a commercialized frenzied powering a marketed brand is exhausting.  I’m writing a lot on exhaustion lately; it’s all going somewhere, I promise.  And I’ll be sure to let you know where that is when we get there.  Big, flashing neon lights and all that jazz.

Apps- right, sorry – got distracted.  Music players used to be just that; now every portable media player is trying to mimic iPods.  iPads?  - I had a TX-84, bitches.  With tetris on it.  iPhones? – I was rocking the windows phone when it was 5.0, suckers.  I had one of the first sliding phones with a full QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen. 

What did I need this technology for, though?  See, that’s the big kicker: we’re told we need all this technology, but I have yet to have someone at a store tell me why I need it.  It’s a big thing in retail sales – this method of telling you how a device will make your life easier because of this, that, and the other thing.  Which, after you get over the twelve month learning curve, you might agree with.  To my observation, a lot of the tech market’s growth can be contributed to ‘grass is greener’ concepts.  We simply believe things will be easier and better because we’re told it will be, so we bite.

The tech-splosion is an interesting phenomena beyond the psychosis it has created.  The technology we are encountering now is evolving so rapidly, that a ‘learning curve to integration’ ratio does not exist.  We give a cell phone to people that has video chat functions, texting options, music players, full Office suite integration, and we stand perplexed about why they try to use all of this while driving.  The desire to use the technology available to them inhibits their ability to understand the limitations of interfacing with it.

Which leads me into multitasking and multitasking devices.  I can handle two or three jobs at once, but when you actually look at what I’m doing, I have three separate jobs staggered at such a rate, that while I have nothing else to do with one, I’m working on either of the other two.  I’m not literally working on three things at once.  I’ve tried that before, and found that I end up doing each of the three tasks slower than doing each separately.  Also, I don’t favor multitasking devices.  My computer, sure, but a record player that plays eight tracks, bakes cookies, and records to MP3?  I just want something that can play my vinyl.  Not to mention, while I can get all that bundled cheaply, I’m usually getting something of equal quality in construction.

In high school, one of my first larger paychecks I used to buy a portable cd player.  It was phenomenal, but even better when I realized I could play MP3 discs on there.  700 megabytes of sweet tunes was a hard thing to scoff at in an era before gigabytes could go in your pocket.  I used to tote that thing around with just one disc, and cram as much of the music that I liked on there, and then act like the cat’s pajamas whenever someone needed a music fix.  It chewed through batteries like a fat man at a bacon bar.  Despite this, I would still buy fresh packs every three or four days.

I realized I was spending as much money on batteries as I was cigarettes.  For a seventeen year old to have the kind of revelation is epic in scope.  To decide that the cigarettes were a better investment is a testament to being a smoker.  I scrapped the device, and began using an older discman that went through a pair of batteries every third week.  Had to carry a few more discs around with me, which, within a week, meant only two or three at all times.  No one came clamoring to me demanding music all the while I had the other player.  They sure as hell didn’t now.  Once I got used to it, I actually asked myself why I had gone with all that other jazz. 

I realized the exchange was solid.  I spent less on batteries, and got just as much music.  So, when I went cellphone shopping last year, I realized I didn’t need iTunes support.  I didn’t need a web browser for porn.  I’d like something that played music, but above all else, I needed a phone to talk on.  A camera wouldn’t hurt, but I already had a lovely 35mm.  That was fourteen months ago.  I’ve now had this phone long enough that I can text rather well on it.  I’ve just learned it had voice support for that.  I’ve also just learned how to make folders on an Android phone.  I work in IT for pete’s sake, and before that, with video games, and I did not know how to make a folder on my cellphone.  Why do I need folders on my cellphone? – It’s for making calls, not drafting the powperpoint for my next symposium.

Do we make our lives harder?  That’s really a loaded question.  It seems there are so many ways out there to make life easier, but they just do one of two things.  That make it inherently harder, or, you become bogged down with even larger to-do lists because of everything you should be doing with this much technology.  Either way, having this tech around just to make our lives easier, is seemingly making it harder.

I’ve reflected on the lack of communication these past few weeks .  I don’t mean in person – I’ve actually seen Rae more times in the past two weeks than in most of last year.  I mean the work emails, non-stop through the night.  Phone calls at odd hours; requests for Excel files, Access files, reporting, reporting, reporting.  When I left work Thursday, I turned off my email client, because there was no need for it through the weekend.

I’m finding myself less hostile.  Not having the stress of all the additional work that went with the other job, I have easily mellowed down to t a six or five out of ten.  Are all of these multi-tasking devices and wunderkind electronics getting in the way of me just enjoying life, or is the expectation for me multi-tasking higher because of these devices?

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