Wednesday, June 04, 2014


I imagine it's a common escapist fantasy people have, a regular daydream where some tv interviewer is asking for their actual opinion. The same base desires that drive one to start a blog mayhaps.

Anyway today while running I was imagining a recurring scenario where I was being asked my advice for aspiring artists in some successful future of mine. And my advice was 'return emails' which is actually just a peeve disguised as advice. But being that I was running I had time to think why this peeved me so muchmost, that it has become something I would give advice on.

Straight up, there's a disparity between how much we notice emails sent that were never returned vs emails we receive that we don't return. For the past four years my mother has been sending me emails with attached photos each week that I virtually never respond to.

But I noticed recently something peculiar about my friends that seems too consistent to be mere coincidence. It was this phenomena of my sending emails, and then running into the person I sent it to who would then say to me 'hey I got your email...' the first couple of times I put it down to a personality quirk on the part of the recipient, now I'm not so sure.

Here's my current theory. It's the smart phones. People recieve emails on portable devices now. And these portable devices that are putting them in touch and keeping them connected are also driving the non-response phenomenology.

I assert this by projecting my own behaviour. If somebody sends me that quasi-half-email thing called a 'pm' on facebook I can read it on my phone and will almost never respond on the spot. Because I hate the touch interface and predictive text feature on my phone. And I have swipe which is much friendlier to the fat fingered than the iphone's non-swipe set up. But at any rate it's annoying to type anything of substantive length on my phone to respond. So if a message requires a response it goes on my mental 'to do' list for next time I'm at my desktop to use an actual keyboard and exert actual control over what I say.

I'd never type an email on my phone. Let alone a blog post.

And I know Plato or Socrates or some greek asshole said long ago that reading was ruining people for memorising shit, but the fact is that just because technologies ability to degrade our independence isn't a new observation, doesn't make it untrue. Frank Zappa's 'I'm the Slime' was a diss at TV, yet most of the great art is still made by people who don't sit around watching heaps of TV or consuming vast amounts of entertainment. They are people getting good at producing entertainment by spending their time producing entertainment.

Anyway I digress. Portable technology is shit. I had a very salient thought as a child when my dad got issued his first ever work mobile phone - 'now dad can be at work all the time' his fellow executives could call him weeknights and weekdays. Time stopped being partitioned and scheduled and Ricardo Semler wrote a very good book on it called 'The Seven Day Weekend' about how we'd learned to open work emails on a Sunday but not watch a movie on a monday afternoon.

So too heaps of people actually struggle with their facebook usage and other social media, I have friends that have quit facebook outright to get away from it. For me the answer is simple - you open up facebook once in the morning, write your birthday messages, check your notifications, post something (but don't force it) and log out. Manager tools have for years recommend that you actually schedule your email at work, so that you check and respond to email 3 times a day, instead of any time of day.

All this got me to thinking, portable technology is actually just plain and simple - pretty shit. The times in my life where I've been like 'damn I wish I had a laptop with wifi' I can count on one hand - the three 8 hour plus stop-overs I've had in airports. Even then it's probably a misnomer, it would have been good to have that shit then and then only, had I been lugging around a laptop in my travels chances are I would have exhausted all my entertainment before I actually needed it. I am often bored by everything the internet has to offer.

I haven't had a portable sound device for almost two years. I can remember because I was given a good set of headphones for my birthday one year that I still haven't used. And I don't really notice. I don't get music withdrawal like I expected.

Back to laptops, I don't know how so many peoples got so convinced that laptops were so great. They are virtually all ergonomically really bad, I find they run like shit within an alarmingly short period of time and they are just amazingly low quality, expensive and fragile. I think the notion of a work station - a physical place you go to do work is now a best kept secret. I feel I get so much work done from being a primary desktop PC user over my competition. I somehow think that junior sales rep or consultant travelling for work is secretly not thrilled that they can unfold the laptop computer and do work wherever they can. A shitty job gets shittier.

Plus like music that plays a note every beat, our lives increasingly lack rest, lack punctuation. Lack an absence to drive appreciation. It's all sugar, all the time baby.

Just look at this blog, and realise, the internet is actually pretty shit. You can do without it for awhile.

I quit.

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