Technology: Bah Humbug

by John Delach

Slip slidin’ away, slip slidin’ away, you know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip slidin’ away.

Paul Simon


I cannot recall even approximately when I began to feel naked, alone and afraid whenever I discover that I am beyond walking distance from my cell phone. This awful realization hit me like a ton of bricks the other day when I called my carrier, Verizon, to accept a discount in return for electronic billing. The helpful young lady pleasantly thanked me for my loyal service. I murmured, “Whatever.” But then I realized she was saying in amazement, “Why you have been a wireless customer since 1992.”


Nineteen ninety-two, “Damn,” I said to myself after I had hung up, “Chances are she wasn’t alive in 1992.” Not only that, Verizon wasn’t alive in 1992. Neither were its predecessors, Bell Atlantic or NYNEX. Heck, when I first signed up it was with New York Telephone then an orphan of the broken-up AT&T, Bell System.


My first phone was a Nokia brick (small size), not as big as those Motorola walkie-talkies. I’ve gone through L.G.’s, Samsung, the Motorola Razor and one made by Qualcomm, whoever the hell they are / were. (Incidentally that relic is still in my garage and bears the name, Bell Atlantic Mobile.”)


Now I am blessed / cursed with an IPhone 5C that does everything except offer sex, at least I think it doesn’t, as I probably utilize less than 15% of its capability. My friend, Mike calls it the work of the devil. (Mike swore allegiance to his flip-phone until dragged into the dark side at a family intervention where his flip-phone was forcibly removed, replaced by a hand-me-down IPhone 4 from his teenage son.)


Worse, a mobile device doesn’t even scratch the surface of my skitsofrantic relationship with technology. In fact, if it weren’t for Google, it would be impossible for me to spell skitsofrantic!


Just last night, I miss-hit some button on my key board sending my tool bar into never, never land. The cold sweat of fear descended upon me, my hands became clammy and my heart raced as I contemplated being unable to make next Wednesday’s blog deadline.


This blog is another thing. Every Wednesday morning I sit down at this computer with absolute dread and certainty that today will be the day that I will not be able to access WordPress or that it won’t work.


Computers, IPhones, IPAds, Kindle, all those devices frighten me. So too in my vehicle- OnStar, Blue Tooth, GPS and XM – each of these things are traps waiting to turn on me when I least suspect it.


The house in New Hampshire has gone from a bucolic place for peace and quiet into the nut house. When we took ownership in 1984, the only devices were a radio, telephone land-line and a roof-mounted antenna that picked up a single television station out of Burlington, VT. We replaced the antenna with one of those old monster dishes that combed the sky for C and K-band satellites. In all we could access two or three dozen satellites each with 15 to 24 stations both domestic and foreign. That was fun especially during football season as we could access the raw feed of every NFL game for free. But like modern pizza discs that replaced it about ten years ago, we quickly discovered that most of the content consisted of, sex, obscure religions and shop-at-home. (Back in the day, late one night after a few pops I bought two Bill Clinton backward-watches because the price was right!)


Now we have semi-adequate cell-phone service (unless you have AT&T) and a Router that works well except when our offsprings and their families overwhelm it with their war chest of devices or when the not infrequent blackouts play havoc with it.


Windows 10 is knocking at the door and what future shock will next strike? I avoid all social media and clouds though I hear this voice inside that repeats, “Soon, sucker, soon.”