Technological Quandaries

They’re everywhere, touching every wall, in every purse and pocket. A little computer. Or a big one, depending. I’m sitting across one right now—that is, several. And tapping on one as I sit.

There’s the Firestick and the Apple TV. Tiny brains that present me with choices, like “What movie do you want to watch today?” Or, “Would you like to resume episode 4 of Stranger Things with 27 minutes remaining?”

On my lap is the other computer, which offers me ingress into my banking accounts, provides me with answers to everything—or not, and locates an address in Amsterdam with a satellite view of the Van Gogh Museum.

When I compose on it, it highlights my typos and and tries to assess my grammar, often in inexplicable ways. It’s keyboard is tidy and quiet—the keyboard is backlit in the dim room. The recliner I’m sitting on also must be chipped because when I press on the correct button, the foot rest will rise and the back rest slides underneath me.

I’m forgetting a critical device which brings the Internet into our home. The modem/router is awake twenty-four/seven, blue lights blinking busily. I don’t know what is going on inside it, but it certainly appears to take its job seriously.

In the kitchen, it’s the combo washer/drier that offers countless combinations of wash and dry. Then the remotes in the dining area for the air conditioner and fan that instruct the instruments to blow, cool, reverse. The remote control is, in a crude way, probably the earliest hand-held computer.

On my desk is the computer with the big screen, and it does the same things the laptop does but it’s, well, bigger. Nice for drawing. There’s a smart drawing pad with a smart pen, blue tooth headphones, and an array of teeny tiny storage devices with very big memories.

And then there’s the iPad—portable reader, Internet portal, photo album and game reservoir combined. And not to mention my now constant companion, the iPhone, which I am told can do all of the things the aforementioned devices do, and perhaps even more.

The phone talks to me—alerts, texts, reminders, calendar dates (the laptop software told me I misspelled ‘calendar’ and just now that I misspelled ‘misspelled’). I keep notes in it, I enter the reminders, and it contains the majority of my current music library. It tells me where traffic is slowing down. It tells me where the local Costco is. It provides the phone number, too.

I don’t even remember when it all changed. Perhaps with the personal computer revolution. Or maybe when I got my first mobile phone. It’s been gradual, like aging, something that happened while I wasn’t really paying attention. But it’s everywhere.

Along with the astonishing plethora of conveniences, come an astonishing plethora of inconveniences. Like when modem/router got mucked up with crappy code and went on strike. Then the purchase of a new modem/router and the four hour set-up period of deciphering manuals and entering the 26-digit key code incorrectly four times.

Downloading and installing innumerable upgrades. Dead batteries in desperate search of resuscitation. Misplaced, lost, broken. Figuring out apps. Too many apps. No app.

Outdated, outmoded, too slow, too fast.

And yet, to imagine life without Amazon shopping is just not possible.

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About Jill Zeller

The author of numerous short stories and novels, Jill Zeller lives near Seattle, Washington, with her patient and adoring husband, two English mastiffs, and one self-centered tuxedo cat. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination were as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Maybe it is because she was raised as a Christian Scientist. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

Comments

Technological Quandaries — 3 Comments

  1. For variety, add being allergic to the materials these things are made of…or living so far out, if your phone is only slightly too old, you can’t hook into wireless to make phone calls. Cell towers here are useless.

    It’s getting scary out there.

  2. I agree with Cat — we’re getting overwhelmed with all these devices, apps, programs to learn. And the need to think about which shiny new toy will actually enhance our lives or just prove to be one more time suck. I refuse to get a “smart house” or “smart appliances” if I can avoid them. Big Brother watching?

    • Last Christmas my employer bought us “Alexas” as a thank you gift for all our hard work. It’s still in the box.