Hmm. Just been reading “Our Gigantic Impulse Control Disorder” (which, in turn, is a commentary on another blog post by some guy named Chris Brogan). And I wish I hadn’t. Cos it seems I now have to add something else to my list of addictions. Dammit!
It’s all about internet compulsions and behaviours. A number of tests or “scenarios” are outlined, and I was fine. Complacently reading through them, chuckling and thinking “Doesn’t apply… what plonkers!” with each. Until I hit the sixth one. Oops!
Do you start sentences with: “Good question, I just wrote a blog post on the very same topic…”
Um. Possibly. Or something very similar. And…
Do you find it impossible to go through the weekend without checking email?
Now it’s a well-known fact amongst my little circle that if you want to get in touch with me and be sure that I pay attention, and maybe even respond reasonably promptly, send me an email.
Letters? Well, they’re slow. And there’s no guarantee that I’ll even open them in anything resembling a timely fashion. And responding? I’m beginning to think I’ve forgotten how to write a letter… to say nothing of the ages I’d likely spend rummaging around for a pen and paper. Envelope? Forget it! And I’d still have to buy a stamp. No, definitely not on.
Telephone? Not a chance. It has an answering machine permanently attached… with no facility to leave a message! Heh heh. And cos I can’t stand the noise I generally have that ringing thingie switched off as well.
Mobile phone? Well, if I don’t have it on “Silent” (which, when I’m at home, I usually do), and if I hear it ringing (which, nine times out of ten, I don’t), then I may answer it. Providing the caller’s number is not withheld. And providing I recognise the number. And providing I’m not doing anything else that’s far too interesting to be interrupted by a paltry phone call.
(Why do phone calls have to be so damn intrusive, demanding immediate attention? It’s just plain rude. Well, stuff ‘em is what I say. Either phone me by arrangement, at a time convenient to me, or don’t even bother cos I’ll likely not answer.)
Text message? You think you’d be in with a chance here, wouldn’t you? Not a bit of it. Half the time I’m not even aware that one’s arrived. And when I am aware of them I hardly ever read them. And if I do read them it’s usually way past the time to do anything about them anyway. Very often days, or even weeks, after they’ve arrived.
But email? This is it. This is the thing. If I can get anywhere within even sniffing distance of some sort of infernal machine it’s guaranteed I’ll be checking me mailbox. Several times a day in fact. The only exceptions being when I’m far removed from a computer… like when I’m out and about. But what’s the first thing I do when I get back? Check the emails of course! (Well, second thing actually. First thing is make a coffee.)
Now here we come to the interesting bit.
Y’see, for a long time now I’ve had some sort of vague awareness that certain types of mobile phone let you check your emails. And get onto the Web and stuff. When you’re out and about.
In fact, one of the phones I’ve had for quite a while now theoretically has that capability. I say “theoretically” cos in practise it won’t actually do it. Mainly on account of me having messed up all the settings or something within hours of first having it. And being totally unable to get my head around how to sort it out, or even having the inclination to do so. It’s fine as it is. I can still make phone calls with it, can’t I?
But then there’s another factor that comes into play here. A lot of the photojourno types with whom I mix, or have knowledge of, are using things like the iPhone (shudder) and suchlike when they’re out doing their stuff. So they can send emails, and pics, and post to blogs, and tweet (another shudder) “in the field” so to speak. Gives them a bit of an edge sort of thing.
Consequently, the savviest of your photojournos and media types now sally forth into battle equipped with so much technological wizardry you’d think they were a mobile version of Maplins or something.
Well, I can’t have me being left behind, now can I? The first move I made in this direction was when I acquired that little netbook thingie. Which is fine. But only if I’m going to be away on a project for a few days or so. For the one-day (or less) event it’s just too much like hard work lugging it around and getting it set up and everything. What with me being a lazy slob an’ all. So I don’t.
Hang on a minute! Just back up there a little ol’ mo’. Did I just say “post to blogs”? Ooh. I could have me some of that. Then I could do some more of that starting sentences with: “I just wrote a blog post on the very same topic…” And if I hadn’t, well, I could do so straight away. Heh heh.
And checking emails. And posting photos to a blog. And then there’s the keeping up with all the other photojourno types. And writing blog posts while out and about. And I can make phone calls as well of course. And check the blog.
Thing is though, if I’d be using it to write stuff with I couldn’t be having one of those stupid combo keypads like wot most mobile phones are equipped with. For starters I hate that “predictive text” thingie that usually takes me ages to find out how to disable it once I’ve accidentally enabled it… for the umpteenth time. And it takes me ages to write anything with them, even a simple one-word text message. Hence my text messaging tends to be along the lines of “k” (meaning ok) or “no” (meaning… er… no). So I’d want a proper, qwerty-type keypad.
So that’s what I did. A few months back in fact. Got meself a Blackberry-lookalike (a Nokia E71 actually). And in all the time I’ve had it (nearly six months now) I’ve only switched it on for a couple of hours or so!
I should have known it was a doomed exercise, right from the start. When I was in the shop and this ’ere sales-type guy was explaining all the wonderful things I could do with it and so on. About ten minutes into his spiel I had to interrupt him to ask “Yes, but can I make phone calls with it?”. That should have warned me.
And if that wasn’t sufficient, the next little event occurred when I arrived back home with the new toy. Get it all unwrapped. Get it all set up. Or nearly. Then instantly discover a slight snag. Arising from a conflict in instructions between the manufacturer’s user manual and the network provider’s manual (Orange, as it happens). And yes, I do occasionally read those things. Um. After having messed up my other mobile phone cos I didn’t read the manual.
A question needs answering. As soon as possible. Something to do with registration. So I ’phone Orange. From the landline. And having finally negotiated one of those damned irritating menu systems get to speak to a real live person. Who, not answering my (very simple and straightforward) question, informs me I need to call them from the actual mobile phone itself.
So I do. Or try to. Same old story… negotiate irritating menu thingie; speak to real live human; ask my simple and straightforward question. To which said human responds with a load of completely irrelevant questions; answer those and repeat my question; and then lose the network connection! Wait to see if they’re gonna call me back… but it doesn’t happen. Hell, that would mean them having to pay for the call, wouldn’t it?
Back to the landline then, cos I’m already fed up with this brand new damn stupid mobile phone. Dial the number; negotiate the menu system; speak to human being (yet another one); explain what’s happened so far; ask my question; rant (in rather loud voice) at human being when dipstick human being tells me to call from the mobile; explain that unless they can answer my very simple and straightforward question then and there, over the landline, cos the network connectivity they’re providing just sucks, then I’ll cancel the contract, send the bloody phone back to them, and they can stick it where it’ll do the most good (or least harm, depending on how you look at it).
So I finally get my question answered (there, it wasn’t that difficult, was it?) and proceed to start playing with this thing. Although by now, admittedly, somewhat half-heartedly. Rather angrily in fact. It’s now become a toss-up between getting it working or chucking it straight out the window and to hell with the cost.
Moreover there was one little thing I’d rather overlooked y’see, but that I was now discovering… painfully discovering. There’s a whole new learning curve to be mastered. No-one actually told me that. And, stupid me, I hadn’t quite made the connection that new mobile phone = many frustrating hours trying to find out how the damn thing works and where everything is.
Now, as I’ve only recently commented elsewhere, I have no objection to learning new stuff. In fact, I rather enjoy doing so. But only when it’s stuff I want to learn, and that’s gonna have some lasting value. Meaningful, in other words. Not stuff that’s only useful for about a coupla years or so cos what I’ve learned is no longer relevant cos the damned manufacturers have changed everything again… just to earn themselves more profit!
That’s a total waste of brain power and I have precious little of that to spare at the best of times.
It’s one of the main reasons I really don’t like mobile phones. Why is it, whenever you get a new one, the interface is entirely different to what you’ve become used to? Things are in different places. Commands are different. The whole menu system itself is different. Compounded by the ever-increasing number of “features” that are added on. Most of which are just gimmicks anyway.
And it’s all double Dutch to me. Can’t get me head around it at all. Though I did manage (finally) to get some sort of email set up. (Though I somehow appear to have acquired, in the process, a half-dozen or so duff email thingies… that I can’t seem to get rid of!) And I did succeed (would you believe) in sending a test blog post with accompanying pic, all via email, to an experimental blog that had been set up just for the purpose. Wow! One of those rare (oh so rare) occasions when I actually impressed myself.
In the course of doing which I discovered another really irritating thing. There’s no proper browser! Only that stupid app provided by Orange, that doesn’t seem to work the way I’m accustomed to proper browsers working. So I had to locate and install (once I’d found out how) a real browser… Opera mobile in fact. Which meant I could access the test blog in a sensible fashion. And post stuff to it.
Which is really all I wanted the gadget for. That, and making phone calls. As for the rest of it there’s just too much, most of which I neither want or will use.
That’s the problem with all this modern technology stuff. The trend for manufacturers to insist on cramming as many so-called “features” into things as they can think of… “Oh look, it can do this. And it can do that. And it’ll cook your breakfast for you!” Sort of thing. And it’s all too confusing. Nor does it cater for the simple souls like myself who just want to be able to do one or two things. But really well. And without having to read a 100-page (or whatever) manual to find out how.
Consequently I haven’t even bothered to switch the damn thing on since that first little trial run. Having completely lost patience with it. And interest in it.
Which prob’ly means I’ll be scuppered for using it when (if) I do take it out with me for real… cos I’ll have forgotten where everything is again, and likely even how to make a phone call with it.
And by the way, the camera it’s equipped with is rubbish as well!
So whilst I may be addicted to the internet (along with all the other stuff), one thing I’m certainly not addicted to is mobile phones. Or not this most recent incarnation of them at least.