Digital age madness
It was a lifetime ago, 1967 to be exact, when I sat listening to a lecturer at Columbia University in New York City.
The lecturer turned to the blackboard and drew a horizontal line. Above the line he drew a typewriter. Below the line he drew a newspaper press. Then he drew two lines connecting the typewriter and the press.
“That’s the future,” he told us. “No more paper and editing pencils. Your keystrokes go directly to the press then out to readers.”
I rolled my eyes, smirked and walked across the street to Chock full o’Nuts to get a coffee and escape the fantasy world.
Six years later I sat in a newsroom and typed a story into a computer screen. No typewriter, no pencils, no paper. That future fantasy world had arrived.
Now, after more than 50 years of working almost every day on a computer connected to the internet I yearn to go back to typewriters, pencils and paper. The scams, the technical complications, the social media sewage and the bureaucratic nonsense of the digital age are overwhelming.
Some recent examples:
I open my Gas Buddy app to find the least expensive gasoline nearby. I notice for the first time a tab that says My Vehicle. I tap on it and discover that I own a 2018 Toyota.
Indeed I do. I bought the car a few months ago to replace the two aging vehicles in our household. But I didn’t tell Gas Buddy that.
The only official sources of my new car information are the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, my vehicle insurance company, the dealership and my bank. Gas Buddy presumably got my vehicle information from one of those, which makes me very uncomfortable.
Then last week I had difficulty connecting a device to a WiFi printer. I called the printer company for help. The technician said he needed to take control of my personal computer to find the problem.
When the guy begins controlling my computer remotely he says it is running slowly and needs a tune-up, which he says he can provide.
I found that odd because only a few days earlier I had my computer into the shop where I bought it. I asked them to assess its condition and that, if necessary, I would buy a new one or at least get the old one updated. Despite the fact that they sell computers and service, the guy there tells me that my machine is fine just the way it is.
So I tell the guy at the printer company I don’t need any computer upgrades and to just move along with the printer fix. He says OK and that he can start the fix for 70 USD.
I cut the connection, call back and talk to a supervisor, telling her to expect a call from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police fraud squad who I am about to call. Then I plunge into the frustrating online banking world to change my passwords in case the technician has grabbed that information from my computer.
Finally, I calm myself down, get focused and return to the printer connection problem.
It is truly amazing what the calm, focused mind can achieve. I find the problem on my own and fix it in 30 seconds of keystrokes. Then I sit back and think about how wonderful it would be to have a job that pays 70 USD for 30 seconds work.
Speaking of the RCMP I received a letter from them saying I must renew, for $60, my firearms licence. The letter says I can do so quickly and easily by going to their website.
I go to their website and discover that I need to register for a GCKEY, whatever that might be. I need a GCKEY to access Enhanced IWS, whatever that is. Once I obtain a GCKEY then I should log into IWS through two levels of security.
So I shut off my computer, telephone the RCMP and ask them to send me a paper application. I have my own pencil, thank you.
Yes, the digital world has become overwhelming. I want out, but once in, there is no easy way out.
And, for all its frustrations there is no better place to produce a good rant.