Last time I wrote about all the technology that is part of our lives and how we’ve come not only to rely on so much of it, but to get pleasure out of some of it. But while there are some things we enjoy or at least appreciate having, there are others….
I think it’s fair to say that there are at least some pieces of technology in our lives that we have a love/hate relationship with, or love/appreciate having it around when we or others can use it for our benefit, but hate it when we or others use it in ways we don’t like, or it behaves in unpredictable or even hostile ways.
A family friend used to call his computer his “disputer.” We can all relate to that. Remember this screen-saver image? (At least I’m not inflicting you with the animated one that never stops running!)
Many of us appreciate having a radio/sound system in our cars, particularly on long, boring road trips, but we’re not so appreciative when the teenager in the car next to ours has the volume on their system turned up so loud that the bass rattles both all the loose pieces on their car and our teeth too. Not that we ever did anything similar when we were that age.
Cell phones. Enough said.
But telephones generally: they’re great for staying connected with family and friends near or far, but not so great when the 27th telemarketer or robocaller of the day calls at dinnertime.
Embedded and Unavoidable
Last time I noted how deeply embedded technology is in our lives. While we tend to think of “technology” as electronic things, perhaps, it goes far deeper than that. That’ll be part of a topic for a later post, but that embedding is what can make technology so annoying: we can’t get away from it. Or if we can, it’s not easy to learn how to do.
Here’s an example. This morning I was reading an online article from the Washington Post’s web site. If you do this any at all, no matter what the news source, there are almost always ads on the site. (I can think of only one commercial site, Ars Technica, that is intentionally ad-free.) Yes, I have an ad-blocking app on my web browser, but many sites, when they detect that it’s working (yes, they can do that), whine about it and threaten to cut off my access if I don’t turn it off.
Maybe you’ve noticed that tiny blue triangle in the upper-right corner of these ads. If you click on it, you may be given the option from a company like Google to control which ads you’re shown. When I clicked it this morning, Google showed me all the categories they think, from tracking my web browsing (yes, they do that to all of us), I’d want to see ads about. There must have been over 60 categories. I have no idea how they associated some of them, like “Reality TV,” with me. Even after clicking off 27 of these categories (they counted them), there were easily that many left.
Now, I have no problem with web site owners trying to make some money off of their sites. They have to at least cover their costs of creating, maintaining, and putting “content” up on the site. That’s called “monetizing,” and I get it. Print newspapers and magazines are full of ads, after all, and we’re so accustomed to them we don’t really see them. While I don’t run ads on this site, I do have expenses and costs for having it: hosting fees and the time it takes me to write posts like this and to keep the site up to date, to name just a few.
What I DON’T like are a site’s blinking, flashing, attention-sucking ads that try to pull me away from the content I came to the site to see.
Least Favorite Things
So what’s your least favorite bit of technology? The technology of the comment box stands ready to accept your answer, and the technologies of the web site and e-mail will happily let me know that you’ve written something.