The Public Eye

printed 07/05/2019

I’m buying a new computer, and I’m reasonably certain that it will be just as stupid as the one it’s replacing.

Let me amend that. When a piece of equipment is designed, developed and delivered by some of the most intelligent people on the planet, boasts technology far beyond the grasp of ordinary humans, and is sold for thousands of dollars to unsuspecting non-tech yokels like me, you’d think the least it could do is correct one simple operator mistake.

But no. Forget the multi-core high-speed whatzits, the sincazoid node blasters and the anti-photonic neutralizing shields, if you punch the wrong emoji character at the end of a computer-based text message, what you get is — a wrong emoji.

You would think when something costs so much because of its so-called technological superiority, the least it should be able to do is fix the occasional problem, like recognizing and addressing immediately the wrongness of answering a text about the dinner menu at home with a regurgitation emoji.

That is unlikely to produce a positive outcome, especially when it’s your answer to, “We’re having ribs tonight.”

But rather than saving me from a long night of explaining that this was all the fault of an errant thumb, the stupid computer let it go, a little green face that was reminiscent of the time that my brother suffered from a kale overdose.

In other words, the only thing these more advanced computers can do is allow you to make mistakes at blazing speed with high-definition detail, as opposed to ordinary speed with ho-hum detail.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think being stupid faster is what you’d call a major step foward in the course of human development.

Which, incidentally, is why the emoji miscue is more than a matter of me having to sit in the closet and eat something out of a can just to stay out of the line of fire.

The thing is, I never use emojis, because they suggest to me that we are regressing as a society, no matter what the tech magazines say.

Consider the facts: the first known forms of written communication were pictographs. These were followed by alphabets consisting of letters that would be drawn separately to create words.

It wasn’t until the 1700s that cursive writing became the modern and fashionable approach to handwritting, at least until now.

It’s being phased out, as school systems are saying that knowing cursive is a waste of time, when students can study more important subjects — such as how to write with their thumbs on their phones, in block letters like we used a thousand years ago.

Of course, there’s no point in thumbing all those letters when you can relate what you’re thinking by expressing it with an emoji, which is nothing more than a digital pictograph.

So, here we are, 10,000 years after the time we were putting pictures on cave walls, doing exactly the same thing on our tech gear.

We are not getting ahead, because if we were, my computer would have said, “Excuse me, friend, you spent thousands on me, so you can’t be stupid enough to send that.”

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