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. Well you figured it out, so you can’t say you’re stupid; however, I think the situation begs the question: Is the multitude of options afforded by technology causing us to create our own hierarchies of preferred methods of communication? Or wait, that sounds stupid.

  2. During the last federal election here in Canada, I was on the CBC website, looking at the returns. They stream their radio broadcasts online and I wanted to listen, but they only stream in wma and I don’t have anything that can deal with that format, so I was being very cranky about their lack of open-format content. It took me ten or more minutes of being cranky about it until I realized that I have an actual *radio* that I could use to listen to their *radio* broadcast.

  3. I gotta say, though, after four and a half years at an answering service… actual phone calls are my communication of LAST resort. If I could text my doctor’s office for appointments, I’d be one happy camper.

  4. I don’t know if that’s really stupid. Personally, I just don’t like talking on the telephone, so I tend to avoid it. In-person or electronic is preferred, phone only if I have to.

  5. I hate talking on the phone, too. It doesn’t seem to matter what phone I’m using or what service I’m using, everyone seems to be mumbling in a foreign (or possibly extraterrestrial) language. So using the phone to actually TALK to people is definitely my option of last resort. Perhaps if I get a hearing aid that incorporates a universal translator, things would improve. :-)

  6. I hardly ever use the phone these days. I loath texting and I’m too tight to make calls. Facebook/Email/Blogger/Googlechat are my prefered options. Your post made me laugh though because I’ve done the same thing, spending ages trying to communicate when all I had to do was pick up the phone and speak!

  7. I think you meant “cyclists”. 😉
    Heh, typical answer from someone who knows a certain amount about something. People always ask me which camera they should get and I have to ask them back what they want to use it for, how big it can be and what their budget is.
    For me, texting and talking on the phone (cell or landline) costs money because I’m on a PAYG contract, using an internet service has no additional costs so I tend to use online based communication.
    The whole using technology instead of talking gets really silly when you text/IM someone who’s in the same house/apartment or even room as you…

  8. About a month ago, i sliced the underside of my arm early monday morning. In the midst of my panicking (and some wailing), i had my son grab my cell phone so i could call “people”. I frantically looked in my contact list for my bosses but couldn’t find any of them listed. That’s because i smartly listed them in my “bosses” section (which i have since removed btw). The only number i actually dialed? 911. I had to make my daughter call my parents. Yay. Technology! On the upside? I texted often from the ER. And took cool pics with my phone. Yay. Technology!

  9. “Your phone makes calls?!” “Yeah, it isn’t an iPhone.” My husband, an iPhone owner who frequently borrows my Droid Incredible after failed attempts to make a call, often makes comments to that effect. His comments are generally grim and bitter, rather than humorous, though…

  10. This reminds me of the story I heard once about a woman who couldn’t get into her car because the batteries on her remote had died. She ended up calling 911 (IIRC, it may have been AAA) for help getting into her car. When the guy arrived he took the key from her, physically put it into the lock and turned. This is why I still drive a car without a remote – I don’t want to lose that portion of my brain.

  11. Agreed. For whatever reason I have a slightly difficult time tracking a conversation without a visual element. So e-mail/texts/whatever (or in person) is better for me.

  12. And that salesman would then make bold faced lies to you that you couldn’t verify because you had no way to talk to someone who knew this stuff for reference points because you didn’t have a phone with you. Or you couldn’t double check the going prices online, etc.

  13. Yours was the second blog post I read this morning about cell phone technology (and tech, in general) and how it affects our lives. Well done, sir!
    Actually, you make a good point. I just received my first smart phone last summer. I made the leap into the 21st century, and although I admit to absolutely loving my Droid, I realized very early on that I really didn’t need it to be constantly alerting me to new Twitter statuses (statusi? Math IS hard.), FB updates, and new e-mails. That was a very freeing experience. I still use it to check those things, occasionally, but when I’m out and about, it’s more a cell phone for calls (and texting) than for anything else.

  14. Maybe it’s different for most cars now, but I bought my Saturn over ten years ago, and they guy told me that if I used the remote to lock the car, the steering column would freeze up if I tried to unlock it with the key–probably an anti-theft safety mechanism. I’m planning on getting a new car soon–bigger, with electric windows and cruise control! Yeah, and I’m waaaaaayyyyy behind technology in the car department.

  15. Huh, I guess I’m the first Cyclatron (If Female I’d be a Cyclatrix)to read this but have you decided on a bike yet? if not, I wanna’ plug the Swobo Novak. I don’t work for ’em or get any sort of compensation but I DO think you’ll be pretty darn happy with that bike. It’s perfect for the casual “have fun riding bikes” sort of fellow and it’s feature set is geared toward robustness so you can still do awesome jumps off curbs if ya’ wanna’ Linkage Below
    Oh, and the company is decidedly un-evil. So y’know, WIN

  16. My whole family plays the same MMO. I have watched my wife (on more than one occasion) walk to her desk, log in to the game, and then send a message to our boys that dinner is on the table. I facepalm every time she does this but it is funny to watch.

  17. I dunno, Sweden has a really standardized way to IMing ^^ Absolutely the majority use MSN messenger, the rest use Skype and most also use Facebook chat in tandem with those :p Makes it really easy.

  18. Either a hybrid/city bike or a road bike.
    Spend money, good money, and get a good bike. $3000 is NOT unreasonable. (On a road bike this means Ultegra level stuff or the equivalent Campagnola stuff.) Getting cheaper stuff usually means it will wear out and break way too fast, even for non-serious people. This is most important when shifting gears. That’s the most important. Wheels should be bomb proof but no need to spend on really light wheels which is a waste unless you race professionally. Same goes for tires.
    Trust your biking friend (a cyclist or bicyclist). And maybe get him to look for good used bikes on sale and save yourself $1000.

  19. $3000 is not unreasonable for a road bike you intend to have forever, once you know you like the sport of road (or mountain) bicycling. On a road bike (assuming that’s what Wil would want in this case), Tiagra’s perfect for the beginner, tends to come on bikes that have decent (if heavier) wheels, and can be had for ~$1000 new.
    How the bike fits the rider, and matching the intended use of the bike to the intended use of the rider? THOSE are the critical points, not what parts are on it. And regardless, Wil’s already talked to his friend the bike-person, so why add unsolicited elitist suggestions?

  20. There used to be a time when I would phone friends to hang out, go for ice cream and that. Now they want e-mails instead and prefer chats to meeting in person. Calling someone up is a rarity.

  21. This post made me giggle greatly. My wife loves to have avid text-a-thons with our friends who live upstairs. Almost daily. A 3 minute conversation would solve it, but no! Must text!
    Perhaps I should stop texting her in the living room, from my office, to tell her to desist in this behavior. Perhaps…

  22. I agree that $3000 will get you a very good bike with good components that will last a long time. Although, $2000 is quite doable as well. If you get much below $1000 quality becomes suspect and the bike might be a hassle to maintain.
    I would recommend considering a “Cyclocross” or Randonneur style bike. They ride well on pavement or “gentle” offroad (dirt or gravel roads).
    Since you are in CA you might check out Rivendell bikes.

  23. Sometimes I think I’m not nearly enough geek when I read bits like this. Then I recall that I’ve never been a phone geek. It took forever for me to get my first cell phone because I didn’t want people to be able to get a hold of me “anywhere/anytime,” and I didn’t need anyone else that badly either. I’d get home eventually and I’d call them back or get a hold of them.
    That said, I eventually did get an iPhone… so nothing’s changed. Bazinga!
    As per texting, when I heard “kids” used it all the time my jaw dropped at the notion that they used their PHONE to text. That’s like pushing your car, I thought. For the most part, I still think that, but I do now appreciate that there are times when texting makes more sense than phoning.
    Then I think, imagine trying to text on a rotary phone? And I laugh. Good times. :)

  24. Bahaha, classic. The Jaroness and I were talking last night about how neither of us know anyone’s phone numbers anymore. I commented that phone numbers have become like IP addresses, and we’d be lost without the DNS of our contact lists.

  25. I lost count of how many times a day I ask people “well, did you call _____?” and I get a blank stare back. “No but I sent an e-mail.” UGH. Better yet, I’ll actually take a flight of stairs to go talk to someone in person. We all remember that don’t we…actually standing face to face and talking to someone?

  26. Sometimes it’s the little things.
    I’ve been having a rough go lately and feeling quite sorry for myself (tears may or may not have been involved…for a lengthly time) but “Bicycler? Bicyclist? Bicycloid? I don’t know. Math is hard” sent me into a fit of laughter that I’m pretty sure could cure diseases.
    And then “Your phone makes calls?!” and “Yeah, it isn’t an iPhone”…sent me over the edge…or called me back from it.

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