Absolutely No Help


Technology, eh? I know it’s very smart, but why is it always trying to muscle in on our lives? It appears that, whatever we do, some hi-tech brand of help is never far away, and invariably wants a piece of the action.

Nowadays, I cannot even type a letter without some obsequious animated paperclip fawning all over me. I am always given the option to “just type the letter without help”, but clicking it seems a bit rude, somehow. Perhaps we are hard-wired to be very polite when offered help. You can almost hear the petulant ‘tut’ as your would-be assistant mopes back into the bowels of the computer. Still, he needs to be told.

The last time I typed a letter, I included in it the address of the person about whom I was writing, and was intrigued by the appearance of a little information icon by their address. Thinking I had unwittingly typed in an address with particular significance to Microsoft (maybe Bill Gates once lived there, or something) I clicked on it. Microsoft Office then offered to give me directions to the address, in the event that I should wish to abandon my letter and pay the person a visit instead (not likely). Fascinated, I thought I’d call its bluff and give it a click, upon which the whole system gave an audible cough and keeled over. Ha!

Technology promises so much, but each development in technological intelligence seems to be accompanied by a certain deterioration of our own.

It would be churlish not to mention Satellite Navigation Systems here. These are everywhere, as are the cautionary tales of what can happen when their suggestions are allowed to replace common sense. Only this morning, I read of a lady who, in dilligently following the instructions of her Sat Nav, found herself driving for some distance along an active railway line. Oops.

We mustn’t switch off our brains as we switch on our gadgets. Otherwise we’ll all end up like this next poor chap. The Weirton Daily Times ran a story a couple of years back, about an unfortunate Oklahoma chump who, thinking he would test the capabilities of the cruise control feature in his new Winnebago, set his crusing speed to 70mph and ‘calmly left the driver’s seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee’. Luckily (for him) Winnebago were found to be to blame for the inevitable carnage, since they hadn’t warned him of the likely outcome of such a course of action.

Of course, they had recognised the limitations of the technology, but had (mistakenly, as it turned out) assumed that others would too.

I say just stick to the pedals. Press down equals go fast. Simple. And just write your letters with a pen. And learn to read a paper map. All this artificial assistance just complicates things.

Explore posts in the same categories: Computers, Culture, News

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