Just a few years ago it was slightly humorous for a techno-challenged Baby Boomer to mention that they needed help from a 10-year-old to use their cell phone.
However, before you could say “Ma Bell,” even octogenarians have become wired in, leaving very little room for ineptitude.
My own 82-year-old father is so fascinated by his access to “the cloud” and all that rains down from it, his home now has more data streaming in and out of it than the Fermi Lab during the Manhattan Project. I now just refer to him as “Wiki-creaks.”
Not long ago, he was at my house as I was streaming my Apple Music to a wireless Beats Bluetooth player. He said to me, “Let me get this straight, you just ask your phone to play any song from any artist at any time and it plays on that little stereo, without any downloading or wires, from anywhere in the world?”
I said, “Yup,” and he followed with, “Hmmmmm.” Now in my 52 years on this planet, I know “Hmmmm” is usually followed by two weeks of researching Consumer Reports, followed again with the FedEx man showing up at the front door.
And just like clockwork, I received a phone call saying, “I need help getting all the music in the world onto my phone so I can listen to it on my new Bluetooth player anywhere in the world.” (Translation of “anywhere in the world:” Listening in the same chair where he currently listens to all the music in the world streaming to his home computer and home theater).
Once he had full access to all the music ever recorded, I asked him what he was going to listen to first? After explaining exactly how high the level of fidelity was on his new macro Sonos device — he had his phone play a little Hank Williams from 1951.
“Doesn’t that sound great? Just like it did on my scratchy old phonograph back then,” he said.
I guess if that is the direction technology is going, I can live with that, however I don’t think that is the case — and it concerns me greatly.
Just the other day, I saw this hip and obviously successful couple on a commercial for a new refrigerator. In the ad, the man calls to ask his wife, who is sitting in the kitchen, if there are any eggs in the fridge. Apparently she is “soooo” busy making melon balls at the table, she can’t be bothered to open the door, so she has the fridge automatically email him a photo of the contents of the ice box to his phone, so she doesn’t have to get up and check.
A refrigerator that automatically e-mail its contents to you so you don’t have to look in it anymore?
Is that the level of laziness we have been reduced to? We need our appliances telling us whether we have any French’s mustard, soy sauce packets, or half a burrito laying next to some old Jell-O which has been there sooo long it has become shriveled and hideous like Hillary Clinton’s jowls.
And what about fridge e-mail security? What if someone were to find a way to hack into Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s refrigerator, what would they find there (God help us all)?
It was been 32 years since 1984 (the year, not the book) and this is where the cyberbus has stopped? Do I now have to worry who is checking to see if I have any beer in the fridge (other than my college son)?
I once texted my daughter in the next room and asked her to fix me a dish of ice cream. I was pretty sure that made me the worst and laziest person on earth.
I wasn’t even close; that honor goes to whomever believes they need to pay for a text alert from e-condiment.com about the status of the pimento loaf in the crisper tray.
So thank you, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Al Gore. You wanted to change society through digital connectivity and worldwide data sharing. You wanted to shrink the planet so it would fit in your front pocket. Well, you got it, along with an old gentleman with the ability to listen to “Your Cheating Heart” in the middle of the Gobi Desert on his phone, or a refrigerator that allows cabbage to have its own YouTube footprint.
Todd Lancaster is a columnist and sports writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org