Complexity Conspiracy

In the midst of a mental meltdown Josie flung the computer mouse across the living room where it crash-landed on the floor, startling the snoozing cats.  She was tempted to send the laptop sailing after it, but wisely decided it was time to step away for a breath of fresh air instead.  Patience wasn't Josie's strong suit, and the recent upgrade of her laptop to Windows 8 was proving to be less user-friendly than she had hoped for...

"Tech Support... the embedded videos on Facebook and my friend's blogs won't play." "You can't play them in the metro view ma'am, you need to click on the tool  icon that pops up at the bottom right of the screen and select View on Desktop", you can watch them from there."

"Tech Support... my Yahoo mail isn't working properly, there are no longer tabs at the top to switch between pages, and when I hit reply I am given a tiny box to type in that's about the size of a cellphone text box."  "I'm sorry but Yahoo Email's latest upgrade wasn't optimized for Windows 8, maybe it will be included in their next Beta version."

"Tech Support... I can't open any  of the Word documents I use, including my monthly budget."  "I'm sorry but Microsoft no longer includes MS Word, or a free trial version of it with their software.  If you need to access and manipulate documents you will need to purchase a copy of MS Office at the discount price of $169."  "Can't I just reload the previous version of MS Word that I already own?"  "I'm sorry that version isn't optimized for Windows 8."  "Arrgghhh!!!"

Although she liked the concept, Josie struggled to learn to use the new metro view, to find settings which it seemed had all been given new names and hiding places, and all she wanted to do was to check her Facebook, send some email, and post to her blog!  It seemed that every new  update or upgrade to her tech toys  (laptop, tablet, cellphone, etc.)  required the acquisition of new knowledge to operate it's system...Windows... Android...iOS.  When she bought her tablet the salesman told her she would find Android easy.  He either lied about that or greatly overestimated her intelligence.

It wasn't just the "smart" equipment that was driving Josie mad with its endless options, apps, and menus; she never had found time to learn all the bells and whistles of her digital camera before was left in the dust, replaced by cellphones with cameras of their own, and she had yet to pull out the manual to her car to find out how to reset the "change oil now" light that the man at the service station forgot. Sometimes it was just easier to put up with such annoyances than to look up the solutions.

 Then there was the new multi-functional remote for the Dish Network and it's new Hopper and Joey.  Cute names, really cute.  But what was that they'd said about recording five shows at a time? After much fumbling and fussing, she found out that they'd forgotten to mention that three of the five were mandatory Prime Time network stations, so you could really only record two shows of your own choosing simultaneously.  No wonder there wasn't an increased charge, nothing gained.

Oh, and don't forget the GPS for the car, which is awesome once you learn to use it, except that every now and then it decides to take you to an "alternative" destination of it's own choosing, having nothing to do with where you intended to go.  And it's important to update the files for $69 a year to include any new highways or perhaps a new city they've located on the ocean floor.  If  you find that a bit  pricey, for just $189 you can buy a lifetime upgrade plan, unless of course the GPS itself becomes obsolete before you do. 

Josie figured it out one day, it was all just a giant industry marketing conspiracy to keep her constantly wanting and needing something new just about the time she'd almost figured out the last gizmo.  She thought it was called "planned obsolescence" or something like that, but she had another name for it... something about the byproduct of a large farm animal.  It all seemed designed to make her feel incompetent and very, very old. 

Josie found herself spending way too much of her life learning new gadgets and gizmos and how-to's, and longed for the simple days of her childhood when most devices came with an on/off switch, the one and only phone in the house was attached to the wall and calls were made by spinning a numbered dial, cameras were made by Kodak with prints developed from rolls of film at the store, both her watch and the clock on the wall indicated the time by the position of two hands pointing to numerals or numbers, and the alarm clock had to be wound; books were printed on bound sheets of paper that smelled and felt wonderful, mail came  to you straight from the writer's hands,  tv reception included just two stations  - Dad decided which show would be watched and kids were the "remote" channel changers, and if you wanted to know how to get from point A to point B you learned to read a map.  She now understood why her Grandmother, who lived to be well past 90 and was raised in the time of kerosene lamps and horse-drawn wagons, was so skeptical of tv news that showed a man walking on the moon.  Maybe it was just too much change to assimilate.

Sadly, Josie realized that simplicity had given way to the desire to reach further, know more, and do  more.  She readily admitted that she loved the Internet, with it's infinite access to information and friends around the world.  She loved her smart phone, and her laptop, and her tablet, and her GPS, and her Kindle reader, and the tv satellite dish which enabled her to access a hundred boring fascinating channels... but it all came with a price, and she wondered to herself if all that technical information constantly bouncing around in her head wasn't crowding out things like common sense, and wisdom, and personal communication, and simple pleasures, and stealing the time that she used to spend just looking off into the distance and pondering the meaning of life.  

What if every now and then we "pulled the plug" for a week or so, do you think we would survive?

I'm linking up with Msrupole's Theme Thursday 
where the prompt this week is "complexities"


  1. Things are moving at warp speed compared to when I was a kid and it's getting faster and faster and more complicated by the minute.

    I've pulled the plug more than once and you do survive. Actually you don't want to come back. You have time to do many other wonderful things.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  2. Oh, amen. When Bill & I were forced to downsize, it created some problems, but it has magnified the difference between wants and needs. We need so much less, and have remembered the true value of things.I am a believer in "Less is more." It doesn't take much to make me happy. Good post.

  3. Metro view??? Never even heard of it, Dahling! I think I'll stick to the Country Bumpkin view for as long as I can.

  4. Survive yes..but maybe the quality of life would change - for me it would be worse because my world is largely virtual..but then imagination doesn't need a plug!

  5. Josie
    This is a great post..your writing is awesome and you paint a great word picture about the complexities of modern life and the wonderful calm life we used to lead. I always thougth that with more modern gadgets we would have more time, but nada...gotta go now and learn how to use my new smart back in about a month.

  6. This is a fantastic use of the prompt

    I admit that I am using a cellphone that cost less than 5 dollars and can literally do nothing but call and text (which takes me forever anyways), I am not really keeping up I am afraid lol. I miss libraries though they still have real flesh and blood books they have cafes and computers and there so noisy and chaotic that I can just relax. Oh do I ever miss libraries and buying CDs, there is something about physically going to the store that I miss.

  7. I see my husband and I always struggling with this. Its even worse for the kids though, you get them a DS something they've been begging for for months now and not even 3 months later out comes the new version. Then they only make games for the new version. Maybe unplugging would help them even more than me.

  8. I love your stories about the past. I too sometimes think times were simpler and we were a lot healthier. We had the "Party Line" on our phone and our big treat was to listen to the other phone calls and then we would giggle, get caught, and get in trouble. And calling long distance meant you had to get the operator because area codes were not yet invented for us to use. And when we finally got a TV, we too had to take turns being the remote. We lived in SoCal and so we had more stations then just two and sometimes you had to stand there while they made you switch it during commercials. Or you had to hold the rabbit ears so the signal could come in. I remember when they came out with cable and it was just one channel, we were so excited. Or when a computer took up the whole basement of a building at my college and we used keypunch to talk to it. And we cooked without all these kitchen gadgets which I am so addicted to even more so than my computers and cell phones.

    Yes, I do think life was simpler. We all ate dinner in the dining room without the TV on. We played games together at night. Monopoly was probably the favorite or any card games. Now we seem to eat dinner in front of our own TV's, play games by ourselves for the most part. I do at times like to turn everything off and just talk to the other person or person's. It is kinda nice and much simpler.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful trip down memory lane for this weeks Theme Thursday. I hope you are having some moments of simple, quiet time with your family. It is wonderful to do that.

    God bless.


Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)