A first-person's account of being pissed off.
“The internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.” Dave Barry
Here’s my take on multi-functionality and why I kick televisions. If God wanted multi-functionality, my cat would also be a vacuum. God didn’t do that, obviously, or I’d have a clean house and a very tired cat. The reason God didn’t make my cat a vacuum is because God believes everything should have one purpose. A rock has one purpose (being a rock). The day it was put in a catapult, all hell broke loose. Many warriors ended up getting hit in the head and either killed or struck dumb (thus the term “rocks for brains”).
Yet rather than heed history — and God — we insist on buying things with many functions. Remember the snooze button on the clock radio? We snoozed, we were woken up, we snoozed again. If a gong had gone off, we’d be up, showered, dressed and out the door. That’s what alarms are supposed to do. That’s why they’re called alarms.
You know what Siri should do? Tell you she isn’t your mother, for one thing.
Oh, but that wasn’t good enough for manufacturers. We had to be woken up gradually with beeps, soft music, or a voice saying softly, “It’s 8:05. Your meeting’s at 9:05.” A clock radio isn’t your mother, for cryin’ out loud. I see people in their cars on the expressway, talking to Siri, probably saying, “I could’ve used another fifteen minutes sleep.” You know what Siri should do? Tell you she isn’t your mother, for one thing. Then she should release a thousand decimal gong. Still sleepy? I didn’t think so.
And speaking of expressways, did you hear about the crash caused by one of Tesla’s self-driving cars? Well, it seems the owner, Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, was driving home at at 2 a.m. one morning. He figured he could put his Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot and take a nap. His car hit an overturned semi, which I guess the Autopilot mistook for a deer. Besides killing Hendrickson, his car also killed a man who was helping the semi’s driver out of the wreck.
Tesla has since disbanded their public relations department (not even I can make this shit up, folks).
But before we go blaming Elon Musk, who has Asperger’s, and I suspect Asperger’s and multi-functionality are somehow connected, there are other car manufacturers doing really stupid things, too.
They’ve even decided key fobs shouldn’t be just key fobs. No siree, Bob. Did you know, for instance, you can hold your key fob up to your chin, and your body serves as a conductor, allowing you to unlock, or lock your car from a greater distance?
Now, if the ancient Roman centurions had held a rock to their chin, they could’ve sent the rock much further. That’s in theory, anyway.
“That’s because behind the scenes — or, rather, inside the scenes — the fluids of your head act as a conductor,” notes tech critic David Pogue, who has a video to prove it. Well, don’t we all want to unlock our car from a great distance? Like Terra del Fuego?
Now, if the ancient Roman centurions had held a rock to their chin, they could’ve sent the rock much further. That’s in theory, anyway. We’ll never know because while they were throwing rocks from catapults, the enemy was doing the same thing. Sometimes rocks got multi-functional and bounced around killing more soldiers and the occasional bystander.
But I digress. Let’s look at what else key fobs can do, like this nifty trick where you can press the unlock button, press it again for ten seconds, and your windows go down. If your windows are already down, the same exercise should make them go up, right? Nope. Your stereo comes on, the radio resets, and your mirrors flap like big ears.
This is a hoot in airport parking lots. Anyone who can’t find their car with the stereo going and their mirrors flapping isn’t trying.
Unfortunately, if you don’t push the buttons in the right sequence, your car goes to Pasadena and parks in a Denny’s.
Before you think I’m being terribly critical of key fobs, I’d like to point out one feature that’s truly revolutionary. This one is featured with the Tesla Model St and Model X. It’s called the “Summon” button. All you do is press the centre button until the hazard lights flash. This allows you to summon your car out of a tight parking spot. To pull the car forward, press the button on the front of the fob. To stop the car, press the button again.To make it go backward, press the roof button until the hazard lights flash. Unfortunately, if you don’t push the buttons in the right sequence, your car goes to Pasadena and parks in a Denny’s.
I predict a lot of Telsas will end up at Denny’s. If that’s what owning a Tesla is all about, I’ll pass. Just as I’ll pass owning any number of multi-functional conveniences that aren’t convenient at all.
Take my thermostat, for instance. Throughout my lifetime, thermostats have been circular dials that you adjust depending on whether you’re cold or hot. That’s obviously old technology, possibly going back to when Romans flung rocks with catapults. Today, thermostats are complex operating systems. They have many buttons, each one blinking like a myopic. Their purpose is to allow you to set temperatures for the day, the week, the month and the year.
“You must program,” they say, or your very smart furnace will determine that you’re an idiot and won’t turn on at all.
As I’ve told the manufacturer on many occasions, I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow, let alone in 2025. “You must program,” they say, or your very smart furnace will determine that you’re an idiot and won’t turn on at all. Since my furnace hasn’t come on in two years, I’m obviously an idiot — and a very cold one at that.
Meanwhile, my bank won’t let me into my online account because I’ve used the same password for two years, my operating system is in cahoots with my bank, and Grammarly has decided I’m illiterate. It no longer corrects my documents, preferring to send me messages instead like “Ha, ha, ha.”
I don’t need to be laughed at. I’ve since started using a grammar program that I think was developed by rappers and accepts “U” as you, or a sheep, or pretty much anything you want it to mean.
Better still, I now format documents by holding a piece of paper up to my screen with cut-out boxes showing where columns should go. As far as paying bills on line, I give them bank account numbers that are entirely fictional.
Others don’t need to be paid since I don’t have heat, I can’t read a water meter, and I’m stealing electricity from my elderly neighbour who still hasn’t noticed an extension cord going from their house to mine.
Some bills actually get paid this way, believe it or not. Others don’t need to be paid since I don’t have heat, I can’t read a water meter, and I’m stealing electricity from my elderly neighbour who still hasn’t noticed an extension cord going from their house to mine.
Meanwhile, another neighbour has a robotic lawnmower that runs on electric tracks buried under the ground. It goes back and forth, back and forth every day, cutting the grass to an exact length. At least it did until it ran amok and went under the neighbour’s car. The car—and the robot—are now in Pasadena at a Denny’s, while my car drips oil in the driveway.
At least my car is still where I left it, meaning it has no oil, and I don’t care because I still haven’t programmed the stereo, and I feel less guilty about it if I don’t drive—which I don’t, because I can’t stand the stupid stereo blinking.
All in all, I think I’ve removed multi-functionality from my life pretty successfully. I sleep better, I haven’t heard from a telemarketer in years, and I don’t know if my “snooze” button works or not.
Frankly, I think God would be pleased. My cat is, anyway.
Robert Cormack is a satirist, novelist, and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Robert’s other articles and stories at robertcormack.net