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Stupid Things

I Hate Technology

Technology has made the fundamental aspects of my life more arduous.

a screenshot from the system shock remake showing hands at a keyboard and SHODAN
Nightdive Studios

The other day I went to a store to buy a dress. My shopping experience was regrettably enhanced by technology.

Like many people, I have gone clothes shopping a lot. Because my body proportions are somewhat unusual, I tend to prefer going to a store and trying things on over shopping online. I was buying a formal dress for a nice occasion, so I went to a brick and mortar shop hoping that I could talk to someone on the floor and explain to them what I needed so they could help me pull a couple garments. 

Here’s what happened instead: inside the store there were touch screens. I was supposed to select items from the digital catalog and then use the touch screen to request a fitting room. To say I was baffled by this would be an understatement. It didn’t help that the touch screen system was clunky and had the typical non-responsiveness that I’ve come to expect from objects that are touched by hundreds of people daily. I did my best to select some clothing and waited in a plush leather chair until my name was called and I was ushered into a dressing room.

a screenshot of the hacking minigame from the system shock remake

There was another touch screen in the dressing room. The dresses I selected were already in a closet in the room. I could use that touch screen to select even more garments, it seemed. Every few minutes, an employee came through to ask how I was doing and if I needed anything—I asked her to grab a pair of heels for me and if she could take some of the things I didn’t want. She was happy to grab a pair of shoes, but she told me that I should leave the garments in the closet. 

A few minutes later, as I was standing half naked in front of the dressing room mirror, the back of the closet opened with a loud thump and an anonymous person put a shoebox down, then slammed the door shut again. The touch screens were simply a system to hide the things that people who work in retail do all day—not so much a technological improvement as a technological smoke screen.

I did end up buying a dress, but I do not think I will visit that store ever again. Too much of my life has been disrupted by technology already.

a screenshot of the hacking minigame from the system shock remake
Nightdive Studios

Whenever I turn on my television, my husband and I first have to check if the speaker hooked up to it is operational. Because it’s connected through wifi enabled shenanigans instead of wires, sometimes the speaker just doesn’t recognize that the TV is on. The only solution is to turn the television off and then on again, but you can’t accomplish that through just pressing the power button on the remote control. Most modern televisions don’t fully turn off when they’re “off,” but instead enter a kind of rest state. Every time my husband and I want to restart our television so our speaker works, we have to go into the settings and specifically select restart. There are three nested menus we have to go through until we can select this option.

One morning when I turned on my television it had been emblazoned with ads for the Taylor Swift tour movie. I had no choice but to look at advertisements inside my own home. Before my husband moved in with me, he had possibly the world’s last non-smart television. It did not advertise to him when he turned it on because it was not wifi enabled. Of course, our new, enormous Roku TV that we received off our wedding registry is an internet enabled device. If the internet goes out, it becomes useless. We mostly use the internet features on this device to access the various streaming apps at our disposal. I’ve noticed recently that these streaming services are often offered in a “bundle,” in the exact same way that cable packages used to work. I haven’t yet done the math on whether or not just canceling all our streaming subscriptions and getting cable would be cheaper than what we do now.

a screenshot of the hacking minigame from the system shock remake

My husband and I also have to use technology to pay rent for our apartment. Initially, we had to pay through Zelle, which didn’t work for me because I use a small credit union for my bank and Zelle does not support it. My husband, who uses Bank of America, has to pay rent through his account. A few months ago, our landlord told us that he would only be accepting rent payments through a website called RentCafe, which automates late payment fees. Unfortunately for our landlord, this website has been down since the beginning of the month. As for our late payment fees, who knows what will happen. Our landlord lives in our neighborhood—we could just hand him a check.

Speaking of my husband’s bank, he recently opened a joint high-interest savings account for us so that we could try to build a little bit of a nest egg. When he tried to transfer money from Bank of America to this new account, he was given an error message. He spent weeks calling customer service to no avail. I suggested he visit the branch location near our apartment. It turns out that the bank tellers there aren’t authorized to do anything that the automated teller machines can’t do. They told him that is the case for every Bank of America location. The best they could do for him was call customer service.

a screenshot of the planet jupiter from the window of a space ship, from the system shock remake
Nightdive Studios

Technology is certainly disruptive. In many instances, it makes the fundamental aspects of my life more arduous. My Metro Card just works—why do I need to sign up for OMNY and pay for my subway rides with my phone? What would happen to me if my phone was stolen and therefore I couldn’t access the app? Would I just be stranded? I’m also apprehensive because New York contracted the same company that created the digital payment app for Chicago public transit, and the rollout for that service was terrible. A friend of mine put her transit card in her wallet and tapped it without taking the card out, only to discover she was being double charged for every ride because the system was registering both her transit card and her debit card with each tap.

I wish to escape this hell, but I’m trapped. A few days ago I tried to hit my weed vape only for the light on the bottom to flicker, indicating that it was out of battery. Technological advancements have created a situation where I need to charge my drugs. What a wonderful world.

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