MY ‘SMART PHONE’ MAKES ME FEEL STUPID: BUT THEN AGAIN, I GUESS THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE EXERCISE!
I was lying on the couch this afternoon on a grey and drizzly December afternoon as we near year’s end, contemplating this Post-modern and Post-industrial deconstructed and fragmented world of ours with its plethora of seemingly endless info-cyber-techno opportunities as well as concomitant means to utilize such things for the purposes of evil and personal defilement.
Wow, I thought, as I struggled to make sense of my new ‘Smart Phone.’ I just got it after putting off getting a new device until my old 2004 era ‘Crack berry’ totally died on me and I absolutely could not use it anymore to send or receive calls. The guy at the Bell Store did not even know how to transfer my list of contacts off of it onto the new device, since the technology of the old one in just twelve years had progressed so rapidly, that my old one was actually incompatible with the new one to transfer my contacts at the Bell store with a simple system of cables and plugs with USB ports.
Which brings me to the gist of this article. I’m finding the learning curve on this new device so steep that I’m questioning the conventional wisdom of whether I actually want or even need all the features it offers, and whether or not I should actually make the seemingly Herculean effort to master such a complex info-cyber-techno gizmo, only to have it become a piece of info-cyber-techno junk in less than two years and I then get exhorted by the powers that be to attempt to master a whole new system of info-cyber-techno crap, all with the ostensible reason of being up-to-date and ‘cyber-fluent’, or some sort of ‘digital dork.’
Quite frankly, I find that my so-called ‘smart phone’, such as it is, makes me, the human being whose race designed it in the first place, feel stupid, which, if you think about it, is antithetical to the notion of humanity creating technology to be our servant, and not vice versa. I think there is a concerted effort being made by the powers that be in the info-cyber-techno world, to expressly and explicitly over-engineer each new generation of electronic devices, precisely so as to baffle the average user, and to make the average human being feel increasingly dependent and subservient to technology and its practitioners so as to essentially continue the process of subjugating the world’s population to a hegemonic discourse of info-cyber-technological domination through the power of the internet, computers, mobile devices, the plethora of apps which are offered to download on them, and the increasingly diverse offerings of ‘junk food’ pop cultural infotainment which are shovelled through it for rapid consumption and excretion by a media-mad population which is increasingly systematically desensitized both individually and collectively by the power of the internet and television. As Billy Joel said: ‘I’ve got remote control and a colour TV, I don’t change channels so it must change me.’ Or as Frank Zappa said of television (and by extension, the internet): ‘I’m a tool of the government, and industry too, for I was born to rule, and regulate you/I may be vile and pernicious, I make you think that I’m delicious/I’m the best you can get, have you guessed me yet? I’m the slime oozin’ out from your TV set!’
Essentially, the internet has become, like TV, yet another tool of corporately driven and government abetted hegemony. We watch commercials interspersed with content, not the other way around. The content itself is also increasingly a form of ‘advertising’ for the government or for corporations in the form of so-called ‘product placements’, such as Pepsi Free in ‘Back to the Future’ with Michael J. Fox, or as liberal or conservative platforms for propaganda for special interest groups or the government. For example, ‘Top Gun, it was revealed in a CBC documentary on the radio, was essentially a recruitment video for the United States Armed Services, specifically the Navy and Air Force. In the wake of the viewing of Top Gun in theatres in 1986, traffic at US Navy and Air Force recruiting centres literally skyrocketed, as young men, for the most part, all got the same idea to become fighter pilots, and went straight to their Armed Services recruiting centre. This was all within the context of a post-Vietnam War paradigm, wherein the Americans had abolished the draft because of all of the Vietnam era anti-war protests, draft dodgers, and burning of draft cards by young men, which got lots of publicity, not to mention the social class-based disparities within the draft, whereby affluent white families were able to avoid sending their sons to war by sending them to college, whereas African Americans were disproportionately represented in the draft by virtue of their less-favoured socio-economic status.
Or, conversely, liberal interests use Hollywood as a platform to ‘advertise’ their pet causes on US TV shows. For example, in the1970s, 1980s and 90s, many episodes of the sitcoms, ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Designing Women’, ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ and ‘MASH’, among others, were used as ‘advertisements’ for such things as raising awareness of women’s rights, AIDS, homosexuality, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, men’s equality in the nursing profession, addiction, and so on. So essentially, as Mad magazine always put it, the media is a ‘M (ind) Ad, which is essentially a form of madness controlled by corporate interests and abetted by the government, designed to get us all to consume more goods and services and to be paid as little as possible, if at all, by those in power, who are producing said goods and services for the implicit purpose of making themselves rich, not for the greater good of humanity. So essentially, ballooning consumer debt is a reality which will only increase, as the info-cyber-techno agenda continues to run amok in this world and to enslave more people, ostensibly to ‘bring us all together like never before’, by first isolating us all into our own little info-cyber-techno worlds in front of our computers or devices, defiling ourselves to the exclusion of interpersonal contact in real time, and isolating ourselves in public with our earplugs in, our shades on etc. Essentially the prophecy foretold by Pete Townsend of the Who in the Rock Opera Tommy of a post-modern and post-industrial generation of young people who are ‘deaf, dumb and blind’, has been fulfilled. Just look at the album cover of Tommy from the original motion picture and you will see an adolescent with earplugs in his ears, sunglasses on and a cork in his mouth, symbolising, in my opinion, the muzzling, or info-cyber-techno subjugation, and corporately driven and government abetted submission of post-modern and post-industrial youth through the instrumentality of infotainment-based media.
So, do I feel stupid for real? Not really. My so-called ‘smart phone’ just makes me want to think that I’m stupid by being so complex and supposedly ‘advanced’, that it makes me feel inadequate as the race of rational humanoid bipeds who engendered it and brought it forth into the world. My ‘computer’ inside my own brain is thousands of times more sophisticated and complex in its web of neural pathways and electro biochemical connections which make me who I am, not to mention the immortal soul which animates my body. The fact that I have trouble figuring out my so-called ‘smart phone’ is more a testament to the info-cyber-techno corporate elite’s desire to make me subservient to their products and to make me believe that their products are so ‘advanced’ in their conception and execution, that I am essentially inferior, if not redundant in their eyes, which is the argument upon which such movies and books such as Isaac Asimov’s ‘I Robot’ and The Terminator’ with the former ‘Governator’ of California playing the lead role, as well as ‘2001, a Space Odyssey’, are based. That essentially, the technology that humanity creates becomes so ‘advanced’ that it becomes sufficiently intelligent to discern its own superiority to humanity and concludes that its former master is redundant and needs to be ‘terminated.’
So far, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I recently had to deal with a good friend of mine’s phone system which was acting up. Long story short, he refuses to use a landline from Bell or anybody else and has opted for VOIP service with some sort of funky software app interface which is supposed to act as his voice messaging service. So few calls were actually getting through to him, that I had to send him an e-mail to communicate with him, and to get him to call me back on my land line.We spoke over the phone finally the other day and he told me that his technology was ‘so advanced, that it won’t work with the older technology and that there is probably a software glitch in it somewhere.’ Wow. We’re now at the point where technology is ‘so advanced’ that it actually doesn’t work and won’t do what it is supposed to do! Wow, I’m impressed! I guess the next step is that the technology will become ‘so advanced’, that it will start ‘telling us what to do’, as opposed to just plain not doing as it is told, like it is the case now! Brilliant!
I can just picture it now. Legions of replicants with voice-enabled artificial intelligence taking customer service calls for the cable company with East Indian accents (just to make us feel secure in the knowledge that we will still have a heck of a time understanding them, so it will at least be familiar to us!), telling us ‘Hello Sir, my name is Rajiv, sorry, I mean Dave, how may I help you today?’
Anyways, life’s what you make of it I guess. I don’t know if we’re in a protoeschatological paradigm, or that the world has just gone stark raving MAD. (Or is that M (ind) AD)? Have a Happy New Year folks!