Saturday morning, I reached for my phone and noticed the battery was at 21%. Though it was plugged in overnight, I sometimes need to wiggle jiggle or flip it—even though lightening cords have no polarity—in order for charging to happen. This is common for me. Electrical stuff just sort of doesn’t work, or stops working, or eludes me. I try to hide this from Bernie and the boys. Whenever I complain about a technological challenge they affect the sort of gaze glaze reserved for doorstep Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’ll shake their tired heads, give me un-followable instructions, and mutter, “blondie.” This never changes the fact that your screen will turn to BLACK the minute you hand it to me. I don’t know why this happens. But it always does.
Lazy Lees often skip breakfast on Saturdays and start throwing out lunch suggestions in the late afternoon. I won a minor victory (no Chinese food!) by installing the Shake Shack app to order the family burgers. Brodie was by my side to ensure I didn’t bungle this, and insisted on reading the app reviews, which were middling at best. Still, I successfully navigated a download (even though I never know the Apple ID password) and pre-ordered lunch that would be ready when they texted.
But they never texted. No call. No email.
When I finally found a human to explain this to me, he couldn’t. They had my phone number and email address and my food was hot and ready… but there was no way to let me know? Apparently. I knew it wouldn’t go smoothly, because, well, it never does. We ate our tepid burgers and limp fries, anyway.
Later that day, Teddy wanted a ride to visit a friend who lives beyond the interstate loop. Driving north on the highway, I was already lamenting a return trip in untold miles of stopped traffic… until I remembered that I had WAZE on my phone. Like some sort of app genius, I entered our home address, saw an alternate route and waved goodbye to Teddy as I planned to outsmart traffic with technology. But she wouldn’t talk to me. I swear I had used her directions before, and she was constantly saying, “Watch out!” for speed traps, stopped cars, and roadkill. WAZE probably has a button to report punch buggies and license plates with uncommon letters. But she remained silent. And now I’m in this weird part of Wellesley without traffic, or verbal directions. Responsibly, I pulled over to see why she was being so coy, but every setting I could find indicated she should be heralding turns at full volume. Distractedly, I drove home snatching furtive glances at my silent phone.
Our devices are designed to make life easier, and yet for me, they are unpredictably unreliable. I have honest to God wondered if I’m imbued with an electromagnetic jamming signal that prohibits device compliance. Could this be a thing? Or maybe I’m just an idiot? Do your iThings always deliver? Or are you like me, clutching a black screen on unfamiliar roads with cold takeout wondering how you can be so smart and yet so iStupid?
The ultimate stimuli and consequent reactions, or lack of them, are imminently human. i-Used to be a computer geek but i-Quit when they moved it to phones dictating our lives. I can relate to the bit about Jehovah’s Witness. I can sense the look in the eyes of the Millennials a mile off. I guess it is no good telling anyone I am just i-bored.
Britt, as you can see, I am lagging behind in reading your posts, but I TOTALLY AGREE with you on the elusive, mysterious and baffling world of technology, especially smartphones and computers, although I am sure an electrical outlet would blow my mind if I ever had to understand it beyond plugging in the prongs on a cord. I, too, experience the black screen the minute someone hands me their phone to look at something. I have said, so many times, “It’s gone. How do I get it back?” I like the term you have coined – i – Stupid – but I still want to believe that it is the technology that is tainted, and I am suffering through its major deficiency.