Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Conspiracy of Inanimate Objects


It is now just over Two years since I joined Twitter, sixteen months since I started this blog, and I can't remember the date when I set up my Facebook page. All of which is NO EXCUSE whatsoever for revisiting some of the more popular blog posts. But then, when have I ever needed an excuse.
Remember this one?


A vexing week at Hedges Towers. I think I am developing Copenhagen Syndrome. Every time something goes wrong, I find myself putting on a different jumper and thinking: 'what would Sara Lund do?' The new mobile phone is a case in point. I decided to upgrade to a new phone when the B H  E and U keys died on my ancient one, and the predictive text stuck on 'I am in the bar' rather than 'I am in the car'. Wrong impressions were being conveyed, I was having to think sideways every time I sent a text and my street cred was rapidly descending into the clown zone.

What I had failed to grasp however, was that mobile phone technology has moved on considerably since I bought my little silver 'mum-phone' many moons ago which means that currently, if you chose for so many reasons, most of them associated with sheer terror and no money, to lurk down the shallow end of the technology pool, your choices are few. Basically it was either the black Nokia one that looked almost but not exactly the same as my previous mobile, or the Hello Kitty phone with free pencil set. I chose the Nokia; I chose wrong.

Getting it out of the box was, in hindsight, the easy part. It then took me ages to unlock the keypad - simply couldn't get the Press * key to align with the Press Unlock key. By the time I'd mastered that, my faith in the ability to absorb new skills had melted away like snow in summer. Two days later, tentative progress has been made, despite the instruction booklet not being aimed at someone with technological skills so low you couldn't limbo under them. I still haven't worked out how to switch it off, though. (Am I the only person on the planet who turns off their mobile phone to save the battery? Apparently so.)

It's all part of what I see as the Conspiracy of Inanimate Objects, something I've observed is becoming worse as I grow older. Although the truth of that sentence could lie in the reverse premise. Whatever. Everything just seems to be getting proactively more annoying. For example, I'm fully expecting Sainsburys to post a notice any day banning me from the store, because I always end up rowing with the invisible purple gremlin inside the self-checkout till in a 'That's not an unidentified object in the bagging area - it's my SHOPPING, you stupid woman!' sort of way. I've noticed that assistants now seem to hover apprehensively whenever I approach.

In the same category is the Orange phone lady who tops up my pay-as-you-go account, and will not allow me to deviate from answering either 'yes' or 'no' to her questions. But my life is full of uncertainty, I wail, how can I possibly commit myself to only two possibilities? Is there no room for 'maybe'? At which point, she cuts me off and I have to restart the whole process from scratch. See what I mean?

 Before writing this post, I had to restore and reload Chrome, as it had decided to stroll off somewhere and commune with itself. Oh - and the printer is currently not working, despite kicking it, feeding it with paper and pressing all the buttons. Stuff that is supposed to make my life easier is by default managing to make it far more complicated. I am careening towards a farcical cliff. Time to break out another jumper?


35 comments:

  1. Probably not what you want to hear, but it really helps to have a teen in the house! If you dont have one perhaps you could borrow one from somewhere? I'm sure there are loads of people who would be willing to share.

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    1. Hahaha! Funny you should say that: Showed phone to one of my students on Fri : she taught me how to turn it on and off (and laughed a lot!)

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  2. Brilliant post, Carol!! Really great writing! I also think it's one that many of us... dare I say... more mature readers van relate to. Mind you, I've always had an unreasonable attitude towards inanimate objects that didn't cooperate. In my earlier years, this was confined to drawers that wouldn't close and simple things like that. I sigh at the memory these days, because technology has got the better of me too. I dread the day I have to give up my old car with windows I can wind up myself. The thought of being stuck in a vehicle that needs a computer to solve its problems is enough to send me to the psychologist for advance treatment of anxiety...or is that treatment of advanced anxiety? In a word, I sympathise!! Have a lovely weekend, wonderful Carol.

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    1. My 2CV, which everyone laughs at, is very 'fixable' coz you can take it apart with a no 8 and a no 10 spanner. And all the 'bits' under the bonnet are reachable. BH's Alfa is all run on some computer system, and has to go to a specialist garage. QED!!!!

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    2. QED indeed. I LOVE 2CV's for that very reason. My next car is definitely going to be retro - a Beetle (which you can take apart with a number 11 and 13 spanner..haha) or a 2CV like yours. BTW I think you should buy a narrowboat the same colour as your car and put a 2CV engine in it...The duck and the duckling :-) (hmm, do they call them 'ducks' in England or is that just a Dutch thing?)

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  3. I can SO identify with this, Carol!! I myself purchsed a new HTC Wildfire phone just before Christmas and you'd think it would be simple to answer a call wouldn't you? No. It has a virtual 'ring pull' whatsit that locks the phone in case you put it in your pocket and it accidently rings a stranger in Austrailia or something which you must free before answering. Nearly every time I do this I cut the sodding caller off!! How annoying is that? And I'm annoyed now as my laptop packed up yesterday so I am using this ancient clapped out one which freezes every sentence or so. I started typing this on Thursday. So I can totally sympathise with you. Life was much simpler when I was young... AND I can't get on Twitter!

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    1. I thought it was just me, but amazed at how this happens to others! Honestly, I do think life is NOT getting any easier. Unless you are a teenager (see Joy's comment!)

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  4. Sooo funny!..I'm still laughing, which is annoying because my laughter has interrupted the attitude problem I'd organised for the day! Ho Hum...never mind. I empathise completely with your techno troubles as I too suffer from such a malady. Whilst I still lament for the demise of the abacus my two year old granddaughter flicks through her mother's tablet with all the dexterity of a NASA scientist! Even that baffles me...'tablet, as I think of it, is a word either reserved for medicinal reference or Moses favourite medium of communication! Regardless, I remain embarrassingly stupefied!...Anyway, must dash...got to put the heating on...need to find two sticks.

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    1. Somewhere, there are geeky weirdos coming up with ever more complex stuff to baffle us. Sadly, we are all 'conned' into thinking it's good. See queue outside Apple store. BH and DD have IPhones. They terrify me. And the phones do too!

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  5. Carol, if ever I decide to go mobile, you'll be relieved to know I won't be coming to you for instructions. Then again, maybe kicking the darn thing works!

    I'm rooting for the human conquest of the machine. It may be a futile hope, but if anyone can conquer an inanimate object, I know you can! heheh

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  6. I've started to get grumpy with technology quite young - it's not the hardware, which I just avoid buying, so much as the endless series of shiny new software app type things I'm supposed to get my head round both at work and home which brass me off. Pinterest anyone? Give me a break. There's always one more thing.

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    1. Guys, I'm amazed, because technically ( a word I use with great apprehension) YOU are supposed to be the gadget geeks!!! Not much hope for the rest of us, then!

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  7. Attack of technology! Poor Carol! I hope you get control over all your gadgets.

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  8. Oh, Carol, you are a woman after my own heart. I do like technology but can definitely identify with some of the things you've highlighted here. I'm also horribly impatient when it comes to instructions too. I may just embark upon my own jumper search for future reference ;) xx

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  9. It's obvious from the above comments that you have struck a chord here. I'm howling with laughter which is empathy-generated. I'm sure he won't like my saying it, but my husband has regular noisy exchanges with the self-service checkout: 'Unexpected item in the bagging area? There's nothing there, you stupid ******! That's the trouble, it's unexpected when you're not greedily guzzling my money!' and the like. I also turn off my mobile to save the battery, so you're not alone; it has less power than I do on one of those silly treadmills! Never have the same trouble on an ordinary walk. Rant. That certainly means your post is a wow! Wow. And you stopped the gargoyle grumbling.

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  10. Ladies ( and gents) I was just about to post a witty response to all your amazing insights and: THE INTERNET DIED ON ME!!!
    I think that says it all. ALL.

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  11. I am so with you and the jumpers! I think that's why god invented children, so they could go all patronising and help us with this stuff.

    Because that, at the end of the day, is what it is - stuff. Phones - we cannot eat them, nor do they keep us warm. Yet somehow they have become indispensable. Grrrrrrr!

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    1. I look back on my yoof, when there was 1 house phone, and you could go out and nobody could contact you or know where you were. Bliss. I got through 3 years at Uni with only a couple of calls home - 1 phone in hallway.

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  12. I'm with Joy on this. Ask a youngster! Or alternatively do as I did. Buy your new phone from Carphone Warehouse and get them to set the whole thing up and show you how it works, especially if you flutter a few of your aging eyelashes. I kid myself that this still works but in reality they probably think I'm about to have a stroke and so get me sorted and out of the shop before I become a burden!

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    1. Hahaha! Amazing what one can achieve by using the old charm thing. Tho in your case, not 'old' of course. I often try the: 'I might develop dementia RIGHT NOW so give me what I want' move. Sometimes works...

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  13. Hoho. Very funny. I sympathise, having spent most of the past four days trying to resurrect McAfee on one of my computers, with the help of some Indians.
    The concept predates computers. Paul Jennings wrote 'Les choses sont contre nous' long before the IBM PC was un;eashed on an unsuspecting world.

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    1. And how right he was. And they still are.

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  14. The lady in the shop told me I needed a Samsung Galaxy SIII - "odd" I thought, I want to make calls not fly to other planets, but I heeded her advice and made the purchase.

    "Oh you should have gone for the Blackberry", said my brother in law. "Why" - I thought, I want a phone not a fruit cocktail?

    Finally a voice from the ether informed me of my error and advised an IPhone would have been best! Next time I am buying string and two paper cups for sure!!!!

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    1. I'm with you entirely!!Plus, the scorn one is subject to when one just doesn't understand this stuff - I'm fed up with 'ability to understand technical stuff' being a benchmark of intelligance.

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  15. And I thought it was just me that all things electronic had decided to hate! It started at school when I broke two electrical sewing machines then extended to every phone I've ever owned, my laptop and now the Sky box which makes the screen go blue when i press the buttons (but works perfectly for my sighing other half). My ipad won't let me comment on people's blogs and those Sainsbury's self-serve machines are in league with each other for sure! Fight on Carol, for we will defeat them one day! :)

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  16. And I thought it was just me that all things electronic had decided to hate! It started at school when I broke two electrical sewing machines then extended to every phone I've ever owned, my laptop and now the Sky box which makes the screen go blue when i press the buttons (but works perfectly for my sighing other half). My ipad won't let me comment on people's blogs and those Sainsbury's self-serve machines are in league with each other for sure! Fight on Carol, for we will defeat them one day! :)

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  17. Great post, Carol - brightened up my Monday morning! Just don't leave your mobile near your printer or they may cook up even more mischief between them. And I HATE those Sainsbury's self service things - maybe we should stage a sit-in and become 'unidentified objects in bagging area' ourselves?

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    1. Glad someone else feels like this! I think we spend so much time at the behest of these things, we begin to question our validity. Or is it me?

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  18. Oh Sainsburys checkouts ! Grrrhhhh! Why do you have to go online for instruction books? I want a booklet in my hands to browse through. I have a new fancy camera and it will take me months to learn how to use it plus I have to sit at computer to read instructions. I'm great with ipad and phone ,oh except for the problem I had with sound on phone,I told son it was very faint he took phone from me and turned the volume up...oops!!

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  19. Girls, PLEASE! Don't you know any teenagers? Grab one, quick, while they still know it all!

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  20. Love it! Partic the 'I am in the bar' bit, which actually made me titter out loud!

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  21. I shouldn't be laughing at the misfortunes of department store assistants and technology, but I am! Also, can I just say: the bride is gorgeous, and I would steal that shrug off her back in a second ;)

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