It Ain’t All Sunshine and Google Out There in Technology Land

It Ain’t All Sunshine and Google Out There in Technology Land

Recently, an Active Rain member seemed to get a kick out of my statement that “I am old enough to remember when you couldn’t really search for anything on the internet, at least and hope to find it,” in my post “Are Your Blog Posts Just Cyber Garbage?”  You see, I am admittedly a big fan of Google; the idea that information is right there at my fingertips has completely reshaped my life.  The fact that I don’t have to sit through a cocktail hour with a bunch of people who are under the mistaken impression that John Denver was an original cast member of “Gilligan’s Island” makes my life infinitely more bearable.  When I was growing up this sort of thing happened all the time, and although I did learn to suffer fools, I did not do so gladly.  Anyway, that comment got me thinking that there are quite a few things that exist now that didn’t when I was growing up, and unlike Google, not all of them are good.  In fact some of them are downright awful.   Here’s my list, feel free to add to it:

“Reply to All” – I thought I’d start with a classic.  True, this one has been around awhile but it burst on the scene with a ferocity that could not be ignored.  I can remember the precise moment I saw that button and I can remember thinking “Gee, it would be so easy to mistake it for the ‘Reply’ button.”  And, I will always believe in my heart that its invention was nothing more than a computer geek “frat prank.” Most people simply don’t understand how the gifted mind of a software engineer can turn devious after days of writing mindless code.  Indeed, most corporate types totally missed what an evil invention this thing really is.  Heck, those bozos even let them put it right next to the “Reply” function.  Why be a hacker and write a virus in your spare time?  “Reply to All” is the Trojan Horse that keeps on giving.  From the simple, “I’ll make a joke to my friend in accounting about the email the boss just sent out,” to that “confidential” report on office misbehavior you sent when the head HR asked for input, to that “secret” affair you were enjoying with the friend of a friend until you hit “Reply to All” to a joke that was sent out to your entire social circle.  Terminations, divorces, and damaged reputations ensued.  Ahhhhhh – good ole “Reply to all,” I know people have gotten smarter, but I wouldn’t go so far as to count you out just yet.

The Pocket Call.  You haven’t been around long, but you have left your mark on us all.  First, they started making cell phones smaller and smaller until they fit comfortably in your pocket, even when you were sitting.  Then they moved all the buttons to “convenient” positions so you could answer your phone easily and not miss calls.  Then, they made the memory so large that it could store every phone number known to man.  You thinking what I’m thinking?  That’s right, the “Reply to All” programmer finally went out and got a new job.  Hopefully, you received one of these pocket calls before you made one, so you could learn the lesson.  You look down at your phone and there’s a call coming in (usually the last person you spoke to on the phone – but not always), you pick up the phone – you can hear them, but they can’t hear you.  Hopefully, the conversation is innocuous, but of course, it isn’t always.  I mean “in person” is about the only way you can safely show your friends exactly how ignorant you can be, right?  Not anymore.  The result is that I treat my phone essentially as a bugging device.  Before I say a bad word about anyone, I make sure my phone is off or out of the room, and I have been known to whisper around it.  “Shhhh – the phone right is over there.”

Collision of Worlds.  Remember that episode of “Seinfeld” where Elaine starts hanging out with George’s fiancée and he loses it?  While primarily a Facebook phenomenon, the collision of worlds can occur on almost any social network:  MySpace, Linked In, Active Rain, or basically any site that allows someone you know to know – who you know.  I mean my friends from junior high don’t always share the same sense of public decorum as the people with whom I attended Georgetown Law.  I wouldn’t exactly pair up my homey from freshman year that types in all caps and has a picture of his extended middle finger as his profile pic with some of my friends that are running for political office or are already sitting on the bench.  Believe it or not, I still enjoy the (virtual) company of both.  But seriously, if I were thinking of giving a cyber party, I don’t think I would invite all these people to the same party, you know?  So what gives Facebook the right?  (Oh that’s right I signed up).  Even on a site like Active Rain, there are people that have grown to dislike one another, and if they see you making a nice comment about someone they hate, well let’s just say you won’t be getting re-blogged anytime soon.

Pedestrians with cell phones.  Admittedly, this is a California thing.  In New York, people know how to walk and talk on their cell phones.  But where I live in California, people rarely walk on the street.  Usually, if someone is out walking they can’t afford a car or they are exercising.  Sorry that’s just the way it is.  I have had the experience of going for a walk and having friends pull over (small town) and ask me if everything is alright, i.e., is business THAT bad?  And, exercise WAS probably one of the few things people actually put the phone down to do.  It also took awhile before cell phones were actually affordable enough for someone who couldn’t afford a car to afford one.  But that day is here, and that combined with the dawn of phones that double as mp3 players means that people are running around the streets of California while on the phone.  This is very dangerous, as drivers in California aren’t really “pedestrian focused.”  They’ve seen pedestrians about as many times as they’ve had a bird hit their car window, and they are about as prepared for it.  In addition, most Californians have very limited training as pedestrians, and when you add the distraction of an active phone conversation, well things can get real ugly, real fast.  New Yorkers have real walk and talk training (I think it is mandatory in their schools) and they are usually working in groups.  But in California, when you step out into that cross walk, you are usually stepping out alone, and no one is expecting to see you there.  Get off the phone, buddy!

That’s the end of my list, did I miss anything?

Copyright © Tni LeBlanc 2010 *It Ain’t All Sunshine and Google Out There in Technology Land*

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