Outlier

My web browser has been getting on my nerves lately. The company that’s made it is obviously — way too obviously — doing something with it again and I, on the other hand, are beginning to get fed up with this. I’m sure they believe they are trying to make life easier for a lot of users of this browser (and their cloud services) but I. Have Had. Enough. And there is nothing I can do, which kind of spoils the effect of the slashed up sentence above but, again, there is nothing I can do.

What’s the deal with these updates? Everything gets updated every week, it feels like. I probably sound like an old sourpuss and that’s because I am but I really cannot understand who needs all these updates. Or is it just trendy? Fashionable? The way to be for apps and websites and social networks, AND browsers? It’s ridiculous.

I often catch myself these days longing for the good old times when web pages were simply text and not ad upon ad (or a warning/pleading me to turn off my ad blocker, I love these!) and video upon video, which begin to play whether you want them or not. The videos are particularly insufferable because I often have to open several websites in a short time and when I suddenly hear human voices coming from my PC I get scared, okay? Voices talking about, I don’t know, private investment or a new fragrance are not something one would like to hear early in the morning while they are still waking up but trying to figure out how the latest EV battery actually works.

Here are a few other things I hate but can do nothing about, which is, needless to say, a perfect frustration storm. Headlines. Headlines you could read, as per my husband, from 30 feet away without straining your eyes. Videos I already said. Moving backgrounds. What is the actual point of these? No, really, who needs a video on a loop in the background of a web page? The bot checkbox I usually encounter on tiny little insignificant websites, which  leaves the impression they want to pass for more important than they are. Also, GDPR.

Did the people who came up with this oh, so brilliant idea ever think about people who need access to all sorts of news outlets on a daily basis? Of course they didn’t. They also didn’t think about a lot of other things such as the fact nobody in their right mind would feel their personal data is better protected with GDPR but, oh, well, expenses must be justified.

If you think my rant will be limited to web content, you are mistaken. I’m just getting started. Now, I know a lot of what annoys me is there because of devices. I swear, the phrase digital devices, or simply devices, is now right up there at the top of my black list next to disruption and innovation. Okay, not next but definitely right below them. How many of the people watching Black Mirror regularly and applauding Charlie Brooker’s genius stop to think the joke is on them and their smartphones, tablets, and laptops they cannot spend a whole single day without? What am I saying, I have friends who find it hard to spend two hours at the pub without looking at their phone, checking hell knows what. I’m sure you do, too, or, worse, you are these friends. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Here’s a recent exchange I had with a Facebook friend. There had been a power outage and I wrote a status detailing my attitude towards power outages in comparison with water supply outages (yes, this happens since there is so much construction going on in my neighbourhood). In short, I’d rather have no electricity than no water. This friend said “Ah, but your phone needs electricity, how will you go on Facebook to write about it when your battery dies?” It took me a while to grasp what he was saying and I may have shocked him with my response.

My phone is a five- or more-year-old Nokia with a weird OS and a special opinion of Wi-Fi, which has consistently refused to connect to any network. Do I care? Do I sound like I care? I spend my days in front of a PC with a wide-screen monitor. I have a laptop for out of town work. I don’t go out often and when I do it is to shop (tea and lenses, usually, they don’t deliver), go to the cinema or meet friends and engage in verbal communication. So, why would I need an internet connection on my phone again?

A while ago I ruined a telecoms shop assistant’s day with this when she tried to lure me into buying a new phone. “But you will have unlimited free calls to the network!” “But I use Skype for my communication on a daily basis. I only use my phone for birthday calls and, theoretically, for emergencies.” “But unlimited free…” “But I don’t need that, thank you.”  I also have a psychological aversion to phone calls of any kind, always expecting them to be news of someone’s death, but I withheld that information from the poor girl.

Why, you might wonder, do I need a phone at all, then? Okay, for emergency calls, maybe. But in fact the primary function of my phone is an alarm clock and a support memory. I have reminders for everything. There isn’t a day in the phone calendar without at least one reminder even if it’s just “Feed the sourdough!” (Saturdays at 10:30 am) What? I love Danish rye bread and I make it every week.

Most reminders are work-related, of course (Mike 11:34 am; Sunny 2:00 pm; Job numbers 3:34 pm). This is a bit alarming because I have reminders for things I do on a weekly basis. I should be able to remember to do them, shouldn’t I? Well, after once I forgot to do a regular weekly write-up and my client had to cover for me I don’t trust myself and I have a reminder for this write-up along with half a dozen others. It’s kind of pathetic but I see no way around it.

So, I don’t exactly have a smartphone (or a tablet for the same reasons), I hate frequent updates of anything, and I’ve never in my life used an app although I have benefited from some because I do live with a smartphone-equipped man. I’m an outlier and as you can see this is neither fun nor pretty. It ranges from mildly to horribly frustrating, depending on whether the latest update to news agency XXX’s website makes my PC stutter (and it is a powerful machine, I assure you) or not.

Living the digital life is certainly wonderful in many respects such as being able to work in the comfort of my own home minimizing interactions with people outside the family but it is also becoming increasingly annoying with all the updates and ever-changing appearances and extras nobody needs and who knows what else. In the end, we’d be left with decorations and ads only. And headlines, of course. Big fat headlines, easily seen from a plane on a huge smartphone’s screen. Set against a moving background.

P.S. I avoided mentioning Alexa and its likes but… Seriously, people, have you not watched Black Mirror?

 

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