Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Useless Pop Technology

When I first bought a cell phone, I sent a text message to my wife's phone in order to learn how to do it. Since then, I have never sent a text message. I have never needed to. I would rather express myself faster and easier with voicemail than give myself arthritis by poking laboriously at tiny cell phone buttons. Along these lines, Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker is highly skeptical of the many 'features' on his cell phone:

It is lumbered with a bewildering array of unnecessary "features" aimed at idiots, including a mode that scans each text message and turns some of the words into tiny ani- mations, so if someone texts to say they have just run over your child in their car, the word "car" is replaced by a wacky cartoon vehicle putt-putting onto the screen. There is also a crap built-in game in which you play a rabbit ("Step into the role of Bobby Carrot - the new star of cute, mind-cracking carrot action!").

When you dial a number, you have a choice of seeing said number in a gigantic, ghastly typeface, or watching it moronically scribbled on parchment by an animated quill. I can't find an option to see it in small, uniform numbers. The whole thing is the visual equivalent of a moronic clip-art jumble sale poster designed in the dark by a myopic divorcee experiencing a freak biorhythmic high. Worst of all, it seems to have an unmarked omnipresent shortcut to Orange's internet service, which means that whether you are confused by the menu, or the typeface, or the user- confounding buttons, you are never more than one click away from accidentally plunging into an overpriced galaxy of idiocy, which, rather than politely restricting itself to news headlines and train timetables, thunders "BUFF OR ROUGH? GET VOTING!" and starts hurling cameraphone snaps of "babes and hunks" in their underwear at you, presumably because some pin-brained coven of marketing gonks discovered the average Orange internet user was teenage and incredibly stupid, so they set about mercilessly tailoring all their "content" toward priapic halfwits, thereby assuring no one outside this slim demographic will ever use their gaudy, insulting service ever again. And then they probably reached across the table and high-fived each other for skilfully delivering "targeted content" or something, even though what they should really have done, if there was any justice in the world, is smash the desk to pieces, select the longest wooden splinters they could find, then drive them firmly into their imbecilic, atrophied, world-wrecking rodent brains.

My phone offers a variety of ringtones, and I know that I can purchase whatever sound I wish online and load it into my cell phone. But I prefer the simple, discreet sound of a ringing telephone, which is the default setting.

My old phone -- the one that died in a washing machine -- made a beep when it turned on. My new phone plays a long cascade of notes, which I cannot turn off. This is inconvenient when I find that I have left on my phone in some place improper, like class or church, and must turn it off.

I don't have a mp3 player, nor an IPod. I don't even have a stereo in my car, and barely a functional radio. It stays off anyway, because I like the quiet of driving. The sheer lack of sound in my car is soothing in a world of endless noise: ringtones that play Welcome to the Jungle, cars with stereos so loud that my car vibrates when I stop next to them at a red light, and display TVs with the volume turned all the way up at the Wal-Mart.

Later in the column, Brooker attacks the concept of 'bling':

The word "bling" refers to any unnecessary accumulation of metal or jewellery which impresses the simple-minded. Examples of bling-related activity include: driving a car with shiny platinum rims, arriving at a movie premiere in a hat made of glittering diamonds, or pointing at a big block of gold and cooing away for hours on end like an unforgivable moron whose mere existence ultimately cheapens us all. Bling is the single most shallow, boring and wilfully superficial cultural phenomenon ever to excite humankind, which is saying something for a species already hooked on internet poker.

Hat tip: Instapundit

1 comment:

steve campbel said...
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