A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
This weekend I’m going to fly down to Vegas. I’m going to have 3 shots of tequila at McCarran. Then, I’m going to go to the Consumer Electronics Show. I’m going walk in the door, go up to the first techie I can find, grab him by his dickie little shirt and slap the living snot out of him. Then, when he (or she, I don’t give a damn which) is laying semiconscious at my feet, I’m going say — loudly and aggressively — “The next time any one of you sexually repressed mega-mathematicians even thinks about changing Facebook, Google, WordPress, YouTube or anything to do with Microsoft, just remember what happened to this guy, ‘cause if you mess with me again, I’m comin’ back here and I’m bringing Hell with me!” Then, I’m going to turn on my heel and go have a nice quiet lunch — maybe at the Eiffel Tower. I’m going to do all this because somebody has got to strike a blow for every one of us ordinary people who is fed up with all this geeky techno-crap.
As you probably don’t know, the Consumer Electronics Show is going on this week. This is an annual event where a bunch of really, really smart people go to Vegas to gamble on what’s going to be the Next Big Thing in consumer electronics. (Just as an aside, this year’s no big surprise is tablet computers.) Anyway, it always works like this. Every electronics company in the galaxy — except Apple — shows up with their machines (remember, they’re just machines.) They give one each to any journalist who can spell their company name, along with all the booze and hookers they can consume in seven days. They take whatever’s left over and throw it to the packs of snarling nerds, waiting outside. Then they set up their booth, turn on some pasteurized hip hop music, smile for the cameras, and wait for the journalists to sober up. A week later, they take whatever the nerds didn’t break home with them, assemble 80 million copies and ship them to Costco, Best Buy and Future Shop. It’s the circle of life, Grasshopper. I’m content with it.
And this is true. I really don’t mind re-buying my electronic crap every couple of years. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes, and I’ve grown to accept it. I’ve come to realize that the world is spinning a lot faster than it did when I was a kid, and I can’t possibly keep up. I know, for example, that my phone is now technically smarter than I am (it certainly remembers more than I do) my television is better than being there, and my laptop is so powerful that, if it ever really gets mad, it can reach out and kill me. I also know that — even as I write this — there’s more new and better stuff getting loaded onto a boat in Asia, and by the time it gets here, it’s going to be way cheaper than the last stuff I bought. Once again, the circle of life, Grasshopper, and I’m content with that, too. There will be no punches thrown.
The thing that has finally driven me to violence, however, is that smart-ass techie who’s busy changing all the applications out from underneath me – practically over lunch. You go to something like Facebook, (connecting with friends and family) to tell them you’re doing important stuff like eating spaghetti, and you can’t recognize the page you used less than an hour ago! Some jerk in Loma Lonely, California, has changed it. (I know Jessica Alba doesn’t answer your Tweets, but don’t take it out on me.) Everything has a different name, and it’s in a different place, and you can’t get there from here, anyway. It’s like waking up in the morning and finding out your toaster has forgotten how to make toast. (Bread goes in the top? Bread goes in the side? Where the hell does the bread go?) Nobody is going to convince me that Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 are so radically different that the whole configuration had to change. There was junk on XP that I never figured out, and I’m sure there was stuff on Vista that was born, lived and died and not one person on this planet even knew it was there.
There are only 3 people in this world under the age of 100 who don’t care about computer technology: The Pope, The Dalai Lama, and Stephen Jobs’ mom. The other 6.8 billion of us need computers to function — every single day — so it would be in everybody’s best interest to set some standards and quit changing things around once a week. Believe me, if something isn’t done pretty soon, I’m not the only one who’s going to show up in Vegas with a bad attitude.