technology makes you stupid

It's been over 80 for the last few days, and I'm going up to Portland for the rest of this week to see my sister, so I took advantage of the warm weather and went for a run yesterday afternoon.

My brain quickly tuned out and started working on this story I'm about to publish, so my feet went their own way, taking me up a street I usually go down, and out onto a fairly major street that has a bike lane.

My brain stopped rewriting long enough to notice this, and said, "Hey, I bet we'd enjoy riding a bike. I wonder how much something like that costs?"

"That is an excellent question, and a very good idea," I thought back, "I'm glad we thought of it."

When I got home, I texted my friend Atom, who is an avid bicycle, uh, riding guy. (Bicycler? Bicyclist? Bicycloid? I don't know. Math is hard.)

Hey, I said, I'm thinking of getting a bike. Can you give me some buying advice?

Sure, he replied. Do you want a touring bike or a mountain bike or a racing bike or what?

Um. I want a bike, I texted back. The last time I bought one, I just wanted something that could do wicked jumps off the curb, you know?

Why don't you get on IM so we can figure this out, he replied.

Sure. What's your IM name?

He told me.

I tried to add him to iChat, and couldn't get it to work.

I picked up my cell phone and texted to him: I can't get it to work. Do you do Skype?

No, but I'm on Google Talk.

I'm not on Google Talk, I said. 

Did you try Adium? He said.

No, let me try that. I replied.

I set my phone down and typed Adium into Google.

I paused.

I looked at my phone.

I looked at my computer.

I looked back at my phone.

I picked up my phone and texted him, Hey, I just remembered that I can use my phone to call you. Maybe I'll just do that.

Your phone makes calls?!

Yeah, it isn't an iPhone, I said. I laughed in my empty living room, very pleased with myself.

I picked up my phone and dialed his number. 

..well, that isn't entirely accurate; I looked him up in my contacts list, and pushed the appropriate buttons to initiate a call.

The phone rang. When Atom picked up I said, "Man, technology really does make you stupid, doesn't it?" 

84 thoughts on “technology makes you stupid”

  1. Hey Wil!
    I don’t know if you have the bike thing worked out but I spent a few years in the Bike industry and have tried out most bike styles. For riding in Pasadena I would recommend a “cross” bike. Riding around Pasadena on a mountain bike would not be the easiest/funnest thing to ride on the streets. And unless you are dead set on riding the sandy trails we have around here a Mountain Bike won’t do you much good.
    At the same time I definately wouldn’t buy a road bike if the last thing you were comfortable riding was a BMX. TBH riding on those skinny tires means you go real fast and never feel very “safe”.
    A cross bike is like the best of both worlds. You get the ease of riding a bike with bigger wheels (700c like a road bike) but the fatter tires for a more stable/smooth ride.
    In town either go see Steve at Open Road on Sierra Madre or the guys down at Incycle. Incycle will have more high end stuff and therefore be more $$. But there service is great and so is there selection. Steve has EVERYTHING at Open Road but be sure to tell him what you are looking for because his store is huge and it looks like a bomb went off in it. So finding something specific will be nigh impossible with out his help. And Steve is the only one ever there.
    See you on the road!

  2. I have a phone phobia. I hate talking on the phone. Even to people I actually *want* to talk to…I still don’t want to talk to them on the phone.
    I’ve worked in call centers off and on (mostly on) for the past 17 years. After 8 hours + attached to the phone, the last thing I want to do is talk on the phone. If I could text/email/IM everyone I need to talk to, I would be very, very happy.
    A girl can dream, can’t she? Maybe someday…

  3. “I bet we’d enjoy riding a bike.” I bet you would, too. I got on a bike for the first time since jr. high a couple years ago, and just test-driving the bikes up & down the road outside of iMartin (a highly-recommended LA shop, btw) was like riding a time machine back to 1985. Whenever I ride it now, even though it’s really for exercise and transportation, I always think of it as “riding bikes.” As in, “Let’s go ride bikes!!” (Remember that?) It’s exactly enough fun to combat the any exercise-induced soreness. I can’t wait to hear about your experience getting back in the saddle.

  4. 17 years? Wow…I did phone tech support for only 2 years and it nearly caused me to go insane. I’m the same way now…I didn’t do it for that long but my call count was well over 10,000 when I finally quit. For months afterward I avoided talking on the phone…my family used to get mad because sometimes I left my only phone off for weeks. I still am not all that fond of it today.
    While I share and understand a little of how you must feel, I must humbly bow in respect! :)
    One good thing that did come of my experience is that I am now the kindest person ever when phoning any type of call center/support. I try as much as I can to make their day a little bit better if I can, even if their company has done something that I’m upset about, I always remember when I was in their shoes. It seems many people forget that there’s is a breathing person on the other side of that phone who certainly doesn’t deserve to be treated the way many callers treat them. πŸ˜‰

  5. I enjoyed reading this so much that I immediately attempted to upvote it, then realized I was here on your blog, not there where other cool things are written. Consider yourself upvoted sir!

  6. The New Silent Treatment.
    A friend of mine told me her sister and brother-in-law got in a fight last night about some of the things she was saying online and it ended up he un-friended his wife on facebook & and he won’t friend her again until she apologizes.

  7. This post is outrageous… LOL
    You are a MAC guy but dont have an iPhone?
    On the other hand I am pretty much just PC but do have the afore mentioned iPhone πŸ˜‰

  8. This post was great! Thanks Wil! I love reading your work!
    Your post reminded of my own “tech makes you stupid” moment that occurred after coming home from work particularly drained and foggy. I found myself standing at the front door of our house pressing the unlock button on the remote and I could not figure out why I wasn’t hearing the door unlock. A slow realization lifted the fog and a smile spread across my face as I looked blankly down at the remote in my hand; the remote key-less entry fob for my car…
    Then I began to think why can’t we have a ‘smart remote’ that just knows what we want to unlock or open?
    Mind you, I’m still waiting for my own personal jet-pack that my friend M.R. promised me in grade 5.

  9. Something like that happened to me and my friend as well some time a ago..
    It can be really shocking to see how technology can control us. I remember that when I was younger I just went outside to my friends house and rang the door bell or when it rained I called her and asked her if she wants to come over.
    Today you send texts or messages on facebook or via other online messagers… This sometimes takes so long ’till you worked out where to meet and what to do, that it’s already dark outside! πŸ˜‰
    But on the other side technology can be great to stay in contact with people who live far away. My best friend lives 500 km away and we only see us 3 or 4 times a year, but technology makes it possible to get over the time we don’t see us :)

  10. Hey Wil, as long as you’re in PDX if you want to go check out bikes you could do a lot worse than go to Clever Cycles on SE Hawthorne, around 9th. Commuter and cargo bikes: easy, practical rides for non-racers who want to get from point A to point B in both style and comfort. I have zero affiliation with CC except as a customer (you’re welcome to ping me for a ride on my sweet, sweet completely pimped-out electric-assist Xtracycle any time you’re here). And there are a bunch of other bike shops in PDX with similar inventory; CC’s is just the nicest and the people there are good. Tell them Lin and JJ sent you. :)

  11. Wil, Considering how long its been since you rode a bike regularly you may want to check out Electra:
    They are nice in that they aren’t so uncomfortable as to make you want to stop riding. I can do 80 to 100 mile riding days that I wouldn’t even attempt on a mountain or road bike. Plus they just look cool.

  12. Okay, now that is funny πŸ˜€
    I can confirm that the term is Cyclist. Cycling is awesome, though I have to add that I’m really talking about mountain biking rather than road cycling. Aerodynamics is cool and all but I still remain mystified by the shared belief of all roadies that using lycra to give all passers-by an anatomy lesson is cool. It isn’t.

  13. omg, all I could focus on was the part where you said 80 degree weather…I’d love to trade in this snow and 18 degree weather for that.

  14. Yes.. I am familiar with this feeling. The same thing happened the other day while I was texting back and forth to my Mother-in-law. I finally dialed her, she picked up, and I promptly said, “This is SO much easier!”

  15. Hey Wil, quick Q, is there going to be any more Radio Free Burrito Podcasts? I understand your time is limited, but I just wondered if you were working on any new ones for the future.
    All the best.
    Jodie x

  16. if you cant find a bike at a yard sale or craigslist, buy a huffy at walmart for $90. that way, when it gets stolen, you dont worry about it. alternative: get an electric bike.

  17. Hi Wil,
    I’m not sure what the likelihood of you having the time to see, read, and check this out, but I figured I’d try anyway.
    I don’t post often to your blog although I read it on and off. I’m more of a follower of your twitter account. And I have to say one of my favorite tweets of yours are the made up conversations you have with your pets. I find them hysterical and look forward to each one with anticipation.
    To that end, my buddy Joe just created a website called where you can post pictures of your dogs, follow other dogs, and like/comment on other people’s pictures.
    If you get a chance in your busy schedule I’d appreciate it if you could check it out and maybe post some pictures of your puppy. We also have a sister site for cats in the works once we get all of the kinks worked out of pupshot.
    Also, if you do like the site, if you could spread the word on twitter or your blog, one mention could do us a great amount of good. Thanks for your time Wil. :)

  18. Thirded. In-person or written things for me. Calling’s just… I don’t know, awkward?
    No, the funny part is not even thinking about calling. We’ve had telephones for how long now?

  19. Or “cyclist.”
    IIRC, most people end up with hybrid bikes, as they are more rugged than a touring bike, but not as heavy as an off-road bike. (And cheaper than a racing bike. Those things are insane.)

  20. To be fair, phones have become a more primitive way of communication these days.
    Back in my day (and by that, I mean last year) if you wanted a bike and didn’t know what the crap you were looking for, you would just settle for the nearest decent mountain bike at a flea market.

  21. Wow. You guys MUST be high. For a casual rider that might turn occasional that might turn regular, that’s laying down a LOT of money. Wil may not be a regular Joe, but I hope he’s more frugal than to throw down $1000 or more without a lot more confidence in regular desire and use. A guy could easily throw down a couple hundred and get a decent enough bike that will last a long time – or at least long enough to know if he’ll want to get serious with biking.
    Really, getting an awesome but costly bike for a beginning biker is like giving a 16 year old a Ferrari. They just can’t appreciate it and don’t need it, whether they can afford it or not.

  22. The worst thing for me is not knowing phone numbers. Before I had a cell phone pre 1997 I think, I had memorized phone numbers for family, friends, etc… now if I don’t have my cell the only number I have memorized is my cell, home, and dads phone. Once I had to call home to get them to call my mother (I couldn’t write the number down and if I tried to remember it I would end up forgetting it), to tell her to call me on my cell. Aside from that, I adore technology.
    My favorite tech gadget I have is my Kindle. I am actually going to see if I can get a RSS feed of your blog to my Kindle.

  23. Great story, Wil. I have a feeling that in some alternate, Hollywood-y universe, a technobabbling 15 year old “wunderkind” in a earthtone sweater is pointing and laughing at you, and likely the rest of us as well. Damn ‘l’enfant terrible’…

  24. This past summer my phone and I took an impromptu dip in the Pacific on vacation and I had to get a new one…The only phone numbers I have in my new phone are the six that I can remember. And I don’t really miss talking to anyone who’s not in my phone. Scary how little I can get by with!

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