I’ll bet you’ve done it, too, many times.
I’m filling out a form on my computer. The form wants to know my name, address, eccentric, eccentric. No problem; I type in the required information.
What’s strange is that when I come to the bit where they ask what state I reside in, something odd happens. If they’d permit me to just type it in, as I have written everything else, I’d write “CT” for Connecticut and be well on my way to the next part of the form.
My estimate is that it would take me approximately 3/8 of a second to type “CT,” but they’re not going to allow that.
No, I must click on a special gizmo there on the screen, something that would never have existed back in those halcyon, pre-digital, pre-internet days. Clicking on this thing suddenly turns it into a long list of states – good heavens, there must be nearly fifty of ‘em – and you must search out yours on the list. Mind you, it’s not hard. I can locate CT on that list with no trouble. It’s just that an action that would have taken 3/8 of a second if they’d let me type it in takes five times longer under this new system.
Again, it’s not all that difficult; it’s just symbolic of our way of life today: things that are supposed to make things better often wind up making things – well, “worse” might be too strong a word.
For example, I worked in film production for years. I remember what an experience it was then for a movie-goer to watch a great picture like “Lawrence in Arabia” in huge, wide-screen form. The high degree of clear detail in that film was an important part of its success.
Today you can watch such magnificent productions on gizmos that have screens the size of postage stamps – forget about detail. Progress.
Another case in point.
I’m standing in line at the cashier’s desk at Sears. I have just selected something for purchase: new socks. I have been standing there for quite a while. The reason for the delay is that there’s an old guy who has been trying to buy a pair of pants and he and the cashier are in the middle of a lengthy discussion. What kind of card – credit or debit – is he using, and why is it constantly rejected when they slide it through the slot?
I refer to the gentleman as “an old guy.” Not very nice on my part – I’m not exactly in the first flush of youth myself – but I believe his age is important. It would appear that he’s an example of a typical citoyen seigneur of our time who is having problems with this new-fangled digital age.
Some years ago that elderly chap would have handed a couple of bills to the cashier, taken his pants and left the store. And I wouldn’t have been standing there for three or four hours. (I have a tendency to exaggerate.)
The debating couple have now reached a new point in their fascinating discussion: the cashier has asked to see his driver’s license. (This can’t be good, I think to myself.) Naturally, the mature fellow has one; he just can’t find it at the moment – a lot of searching through pockets goes on.
Well, long story short, when I finally emerge from the store with my new lightweight summer socks the summer has ended and there’s a feeling of winter in the air, so maybe I should go back and stand in line for a heavier pair. :-D
1 year ago