This grumpy Gen X’er, who grew up before computers insinuated themselves into everything – even toothbrushes – has a question for the younger set regarding something that happened – or rather didn’t – the other day. I’d like to get your thoughts.
I got a request to do an interview but not via phone – which is how I’m used to doing them. It seems to me to be the best way to do them because what could be simpler than calling someone – or them calling me? The phone rings, I pick it up – and we converse. I like simple things over complicated things, especially when there doesn’t appear to be any advantage to the complicated thing.
For example, swiping or pecking at a touchscreen to get a car’s temperature control to go from warmer to cooler or to increase or decrease the fan speed – vs. turning a knob to achieve the same ends. I see no functional advantage to the former – and so regard the former as a kind of Rube Goldberg maze; a gimmick. A way to show cleverness that is arguably stupid as far as I am concerned. Stupidity defined as making something easy harder.
In the same vein, I got this request to do the interview and gave the requestor my phone number; at the appointed time, I was ready to ramble – but the phone didn’t ring. So I emailed the contact and asked whether they needed to reschedule or was there a technical problem?
A reply came that asked me to click on a link to something called Zencaster, which I’d never heard of before. And didn’t want to hear of.
Here comes the get off my lawn,you damned kids part.
I was ready to talk about cars and political philosophy – not learn a new computer skill, which interests me almost as much as the latest saaaaaaaaaaafety features of the ’21 Kia Seltos I’m driving right now.
I asked the guy to just call me. I had my notes; I was prepared to discuss the stuff he said he wanted to ask me about. Instead, I clicked on the link and a screen came up. Now, I dislike Big Tech as much as I dislike Big Brother, the two being brothers from the same mother – so more than a year ago, I had my young apprentice, the teenage kid I help with cars in exchange for him helping me with these blankety-blank computers – turn off/disable and otherwise gimp the camera/microphone on my Mac, so that I could be reasonably sure BB and BT weren’t watching or listening to me.
Well, the screen shows the guy is on and he starts talking. I can hear him – a Great Leap Forward over picking up the phone, eh? But he cannot hear me. A Great Leap Backward. I am now shouting, practically, at the screen.
Muteness – and aggravation – reigns.
So I email him. Again. Meanwhile, we might have been doing the interview – for the past 10 minutes.
I ask him to please just call me. Is it that backward – or just not the Hipster Way nowadays?
We continue the one-way non-conversation for another several minutes. I hear him saying “hello?” over and over. He continues to hear nothing. The interview continues to not happen.
One call would have done it all. Fifteen minutes ago.
But since he wouldn’t call, the interview never happened, which means I wasted my time and he got no interview. A lose-lose.
So I’m wondering – my question is – why do people (it seems to be the 20-somethings) insist on using computers to do what a phone does – as far as I can see – better? Is there something objective, tangible that can be adduced to show that “logging on” and staring at the Telescreen (maybe even talking to it) makes more sense than making a call?
I hit the bottle shortly after this debacle.
I didn’t need to log in to unscrew the cap, either.
. . .
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