Letter T is for technology versus loyalty.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter S was for a Shoot on an old cellphone, and so now…technology. ~
They didn’t start out as junk. At one point they were a prized possession. But your $1500 big screen tube TV became something you couldn’t pay someone to take away. Your friends were embarrassed for you for having held on to it for so long. Everywhere you went, people had replaced their clunky old tubes for sleek flat screens that cost less than your monstrosity did ten years ago when you bought it.
In a way, it’s like technology works in inverse proportion to inflation — if you think about the accompanying quality of life technology provides versus everything non-technological that simply goes up in price but not in quality.
People sometimes ask if I wouldn’t like to live in a past century. Absolutely not. Besides the unwillingness to give up a modern woman’s independence, I’m far too fond of technology. At the same time, I’m an anti-consumerist. It’s a kooky paradox. For example, up until recently, this was my phone.
It’s missing the “I,” “E” and a bunch of other letters. The rest are curling up in various stages of inorganic rot. I held on to it for five years even though I couldn’t “like” anything on social media without it crashing.
Why did I hold on to it, when I could’ve gotten a free upgrade years ago? There is a combination of reasons.
First, “shopping” as recreation is something I simply don’t do. It has as much appeal as getting an oil change. Sometimes it’s just a really boring, unavoidable necessity.
Spend a few years broke and it cures you of any potential shopaholism.
Second, I have a hard time chucking any object as long as it does most of what I need.
I’ve even gone so far as to eulogize some in the past:
Goodbye, old Razr, you were cracked, frayed, and temperamental, and I was hoping you’d die of your own accord. The dear ’86 Corolla of a few years back would’ve attested to my dislike of discarding still-working inanimate objects that have shown loyal if (very) faulty service.
Maybe that’s why machines apparently love me and rarely fail on me. They know I’ll hold on to them until the very end.
My hyper-consideration for inanimate objects might actually be genetic. I learned this after the following conversation with M, my seven-year-old niece:
M: Am I weird because I talk to plants? And to statues?
GG: No, you’re not.
M: And the weirdest thing is, I talk to the bathroom door.
GG: You’re hilarious.
M: I say, “I’m sorry for slamming you.”
GG: And considerate.
Third, there’s a closet conspiracy theorist/anarchist in me, raising her fist with a fuck the overlords mantra. The less you refuse to play, the less they can control you, and the primary way “they” control is through consumerism via the handy media: What phone makes you cool, what gluteny fad to cut out of your diet, what to shave, what catchphrase to use… I’m the person who turns off ad tracking in every available setting, and never fills out correct age or preferences on profiles. My Facebook thinks I’m 109, so my “targeted ads” are for dentures, walkers and reverse mortgages.
In the instance of the phone, my beef was with Apple. Not getting an iPhone, though it was the only phone I wanted, was my whimper of protest. You see, when it comes to my Mac, switching to a PC would be as traumatic as waking up bald after a full head of hair. My sense of elitism regarding the Apple aesthetic is no different than any other Mac user’s. But Apple had pissed me off by doing away with still-viable usability on Macs, like ports (firewire) and internal DVD players/burners. I felt herded, and didn’t like Apple dictating how I should use my devices. I don’t want to store everything on the internet, nor do I want to stream everything off of it. Discontinuing the use of my perfectly good firewire hard drives ought to be my decision only.
Right before Apple’s fascistic New Order of Things, I made sure to grab the very last Macbook Pro that came with the port, drive, and matte display, and only because my other Mac is twelve years old and not compatible with new operating systems. It can’t upgrade to latest version of internet browsers, and doesn’t have the power to run my editing software. It’s called planned obsolescence, a shady but effective marketing strategy: Design them for future failure and product incompatibility so they have to be replaced.
Otherwise, my old faithful is alive and kicking, and every once in a while I use it for portable word processing (while guiltily thinking, wow, you’re so bulky and outdated-looking, little thing).
If you haven’t already watched The Story of Stuff, which beautifully discusses consumerism and planned obsolescence, you should.
For my new phone, I went Android again. Android respects my desire as a non-consuming consumer to control my device in a way Apple doesn’t. No one will know, no one will care, but depriving myself of an iPhone is my stance.
But technology without the trappings of commerce? It’s a dance in heaven. I was a little girl during the time the only way you could watch a slide show was with a projector and physical slides. This struck even the five-year-old me as cumbersome and slow, and for whatever reason, I would dream of holding a flat panel the size of a pocket calculator in my palm that would automatically switch images. I have no idea why I even cared as a child, but recently playing with the pictures in my (new) phone and taking it for granted, it struck me: It’s doing that magical, impossible thing I used to make up in my fantasy world.
Even my decrepit phone that has received its third homage on this blog, houses more technology than an entire electronics store from the 80’s: Video camera, still camera, typewriter, VCR, television, tape recorder, answering machine, calculator, flashlight…
With all this technology, we have the potential to be ultra-efficient and have more time. But instead, our attention has become loopy: we have collective attention deficit issues. At any given time, we have half a dozen tabs open on the browser — music, video, gossip, shopping, happy hour drinks, email, travel, news.
The instant availability of digital dictionaries and grammar rules has done nothing to expand our vocabulary, or to stop those who confuse their with there, and the possessive ’s with the plural s.
We have the ease and relative wastelessness and costlessness of digital photography, yet we’re not better photographers; we just take more pictures and create more need for storage.
The more time we have, the less time we have because the one thing we’re good at is (wastefully) filling up every new time vacuum.
On the other hand, with social media, what started out as fun and games could sometimes change the world. Remember the protestors of the rigged votes in Iran rioting and live tweeting their outrage?
The internet is a strange realm where everything exists right in front of you.
On it I have:
- Stalked my stalkers.
- Watched a friend I haven’t seen for ten years sell her apartment on a reality show.
- Come across an article that revealed to me the strapping, young baseball player who tried to pick me up was up on rape charges in another state.
- Discovered the death of a loved one.
- Discovered the death of my former manager.
- Spent Los Angeles traffic in my car instant messaging a friend in Argentina regarding a script.
- Seen a man, who was relentlessly wooing me, tagged in a picture with his unmentioned…wife.
- Run into a random blog of a woman telling her readers how to cut off their own skin tags; she had learned this from the pictured “movie-star handsome” doctor I happened to have dated.
- The age, address and recent genealogy of the woman who appropriated “Gunmetal Geisha” as a username on Pinterest and Etsy.
The world online is an array of bizarre non-sequiturs and staggering discoveries. It’s both unwanted truth serum and expert fabricator. You can learn, barter, build, heal, delight or idle.
Technology is a heaven’s dance. Now all we need is the technology to use it to our maximum potential.
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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Very very cool GG. The technology vs consumerism comment is right on. Consumerism is not defined by how much you have or buy, but rather why you have or buy it. When you are getting your positive feelings from an object solely from the acquisition, that’s consumerism. When you get the fulfillment/ joy from the use of an object (or its beauty, or importance or whatever) then you own it for the right reason. It is possible to practice consumerism and have very little, or to not practice and have a lot. For instance a commercial sound mixing board in a studio that is used to its fullest, is simply good use and sense, Whereas the same sound board in someone’s home who rarely records and doesn’t have a clue what all the knobs,buttons and slides are, is consumerism. We’ve mentioned this before – consumerism is extrinsic: the value lies in the pssession; whereas the use of a product is intrinsic : it’s operation or use satisfies a personal need, an extension of self. To have vs to use: Extrinsic vs intrinsic.
Talking to doors, plants, statues, makes them intrinsic, a part of who you are. You don’t need to own the doors or whatever to have an intrinsic relationship. You do need to own them to have an extrinsic relationship. Extrinsic relationships narrow down, in time to a point, and then disappear. Intrinsic relationships widen out in time and become a part of all that is (infinite). I call the extrinsic effect over time convergent (like the vanishing point in linear perspective – the rail lines into the distance) It has much less value in time than a divergent concept which becomes broader in time (for instance the ripples spreading from a stone in the pond – ever wider in time. Or the concept of “Pay it Forward’ – a divergent intrinsic concept). These concepts are also related to the inclusive/exclusive discussion.
Ha! Anyway, I need to stop blathering here – suffice it to say I enjoyed and learned fom your post (so far). Carry on! (Oh, I can’t resist – see how the sound mixing board is divergent in the studio[adds to every recording made and has value in all the copies made thereafter], whereas the home bound board is convergent – the value gradually fades away as it sits getting older and collecting dust and worh less each day)
There is a great joke circulating online, and I don’t know the source, but it goes thus: If a person from the 1950’s appeared in front of you this instant, what would you tell them about the world of today? “I carry a device on my hip that can access the sum of all human knowledge. I use it to get in arguments with strangers and look at pictures of cats.”
I talk to apples too…apparently they are not fond of beef. Still no cell phone, my TV set is as old as my grown children and still amazes me with it’s quality, though it’s hard to find something worth watching on it.
I haven’t used a microwave in years, except the one at 7-Eleven for the odd Hoagie.
I had a major panic attack a few years ago when my original mouse died and I had to replace it. Then new ones felt totally different and this is horrible for a digital artist! By the way, if you see a great deal on dentures, please pass it on!
Now I must go…I have to get ready for my weekly Google Hangout with my stalkers…they get really pissed if I skip out.
I’m really enjoying reading your great blog posts…you’ve really found your groove!
I hate being told what to do as well. Herded is a good word for it. My relationship with technology is definitely a love/hate one. I seriously don;t know why I bother with any of it sometimes, but mostly I’m hopelessly addicted to it. My phone is an additional appendage. Perhaps in the future our phones will literally be a part of us.
Quite simply iDon’t.
I hate the way they upgrade everyone into requiring new tech. It’s mean.
Time will always be filled – ain’t that the way. I remember seeing someone share a poster on facebook, which said “I meditate for 20 minutes every day, unless I’m really in too much of a rush, in which case I mediate for an hour.”
Thought that was pretty cool (this coming from someone who severely resents SLEEP as an intrusive necessity)
So, in the wee hours of the morning, this morning (I’m 3 hours later than you), I was about to retire when lo and behold there was a new Gunmetal Geisha post! Excitement! So, I opened and read, and parsed my thoughts and, even though you made it clear that the post would be expanded later, I poured forth what I thought was a profound comment. A great deal of thought and lots of words and I was proud. I went to bed later than expected but happy with a sense of having actually said something meaningful. Plus, I was the first (or as I’m told is now “Frist!”) comment – an achievement in itself since your Freshly Pressed status. Soooo, I get up today, and by and by check to see how your post has been expanded. Imagine my suprise when I realized it had developed in a completely different direction than my comment, leaving my profundities hanging in mid air. Rats! Double Rats! All that profundity down the drain. Sigh. Oh, well, the comment may not be self sustaining but at least it is internally consistent. You should start labeling your post with 1,2,3,etcs to denote the various additions, so i can comment using, say #1. That way later readers won’t judge me too harshly for what is an apparently totally unrelated comment. Ha! At least I was “First!”
Love it, completely agree about consumerism. My current phone will be 5 next month – I’ve still no desire to “upgrade”. Also agree about the internet being wonderfully random – it never ceases to show me something new or unexpected.
I am a bit behind on A to Z, and have had your Technology post opened on my browser tab for a few days now, only to find you reference this behavior. Guilty as charged.
There is a reason why one of my favorite quotes comes from a Sage Francis song, The Best of Times: “Technology made it easy for us to stay in touch while keeping a distance,’til we just stayed distant and never touched. Now all we do is text too much.”
I just swooned a little bit. I hope you don’t mind.
No, in fact, I love it. (But why?)
Anti-consumerism. The Story of Stuff (which is so much about environmentalism). Caring about and caring for what you already own. Feeling a certain way towards inanimate objects.
It’s all very swoon-worthy for me.
It makes me happy that you get it. Someone suggested there was no heart in this post. But you picked up on exactly the heart.
No offense to whoever said that. But there is heart here. Everything you write touches my heart in a way that is sometimes deeper than I care to admit. I like to tell Samara at A Buick in the Land of Lexus that everything she writes feels like sex. And everything you write feels like a spiritual confessional. It’s what keeps me coming back. I would read your grocery list with interest because I bet even that would touch my heart.
That’s just lovely and it means a great deal to me because — I don’t quite know how to put this — there’s a special energy about you. Must be the unicorn thing.