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Monday, Nov 21, 2011

A dumb guy’s take on smart technology

Count me among those longing for simpler times

By Enrique Limon
enriquelimonsandiego Enrique Limon

Tip: for full effect, read this in an Andy Rooney tone or bounce it back and forth with a buddy in the voices of Edith and Ellen, the elderly twins in the Walgreens commercial.

You know what gets my goat? Keeping up with the technological devices in the modern world.

Don’t get me wrong; I bask in certain techie luxuries like my car’s GPS, without which I probably wouldn’t make it to the corner store. But I’m an analog boy to the core. Case in point: my microcassette recorder, which I refuse to give up and sometimes causes others to react as if I’m pulling a baby pterodactyl from my murse.

I long for simpler times. In fact, that’s the name of a shitty beer whose taste I’m not particularly fond of but buy whenever I see it on the shelves. I’d drink it on my front porch wearing nothing but boxers and a wife-beater while sitting in a rocking chair if it weren’t for the fact that I live a couple of blocks away from an elementary school.

I’m quick to jump at new developments like, say, the iPad, a device that has become an extension of my body, Terminator-style; I also hopped aboard the Twitter train early on, and six years and some change ago I told all my friends about this newfangled website called YouTube that they just had to check out.

When it comes to improvements on existing stuff, however, I always put up a fight. No, Gmail, I will not switch to your new look. While I secretly had a Facebook account I used only in the event I had to get in touch with, say, a story subject who was unreachable any other way, I refused to make it part of my everyday life. Though, after realizing what a great sharing and promotional tool it is, I was hooked. What’s that? Twelve new friend requests? I’ll be right back.  

I now live in fear of not being able to keep up with the cyber Joneses, and I hold on to antiquated gadgets like my WWII-era recorder to keep balance in my life. 

Another passé device I held dearly was my slider phone, a clunky thing that stuck by me through thick and thin and was stolen during a Tijuana-drag-queen-bar-hopping adventure.

Determined to make lemonade, I upgraded to a shiny new Android and quickly procured my old contacts one by one, linked to their Facebook profiles, created groups and dove into this brave new digital world whole-hog.

A few months passed and I was drunk with power. Sure, I’d fallen victim to the dreaded autocorrect on several occasions: I once accidentally threatened my niece with beheading, the name Gary inexplicably pops up constantly, and ever the fan of sexting, I made the mistake of saving the word “cock,” which now shows up in almost every other reply. But, still, why I didn’t upgrade sooner was beyond me.

Recently, I came down with the mother of all flu cases (should have listened to Edith and Ellen and gotten my shot early) and the ol’ HTC Hero was my only link to the outside world. Around Day 4 of my ailment, I noticed something was askew. For some reason, people’s pictures wouldn’t come up when they called or texted. In a cruel twist, my phone had held on to all my numbers but erased their identifying characteristics. 

“What’s up thug? I haven’t heard from you in a while,” an incoming text read. 

“That’s because my damn phone erased all my contacts. Who’s this?” I replied, digging for clues. I never heard back—a damn shame, since anyone who refers to me as “thug” is forever golden in my book.

I was too sick to worry. I’d probably pushed something with my cheek, and I’d fix it once I felt better.  

When I felt better, my first outing was to my cell  phone provider’s nearby authorized shop. “Yeah, I’ve seen this before,” the man behind the counter told me. “Your device decided to update itself.”

Hold the fuck on. My phone decided to do something? I know they call them smart phones and all; I just didn’t know they possessed free will. Still in a pseudoephedrine haze, I imagined it gallivanting around the house while I was asleep, getting buzzed on 3-In-One oil and angrily barebacking my George Foreman Grill on the countertop.

“You should have backed up your contacts,” the guy continued. “You can never be too careful with these things.”

Later, at a house party, the contact reconnaissance mission was in full force. I asked my friend Bobbi, a yarn artist, to give me a ring so I could store her info, and I gasped at the magnificence coming from her clutch: a cinderblock-size lo-fi Nokia beauty.

“I’ve had it since sixth grade. I’ve dropped it in the toilet, run over it with a truck, and it’s still ticking,” she boasted. “It even has Snake and Space Impact, and I didn’t even have to pay extra for them,” she continued, as a tear ran down my cheek. 

“Surely you must hate not being able to access Facebook?” I asked. “Facebook? I refuse to join that cult!” she replied. It’d been a while since a lady gave me wood, but that pretty much did it. 

Having gone through all five stages of grief—plus the little-known sixth one: random erection—and having downloaded a backup app, the reconstruction of my digital self was begrudgingly underway and I could finally rest with both eyes closed again. 

Just in case, though, my George Foreman Grill now sleeps in an overhead cabinet. One can never be too careful.


Write to enrique@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Enrique blogs at elzonkeyshow.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @enriquelimon.




 
 
 
 
 
 
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