No One Should Read This. I’m just Whinging

 

All my devices are hopelessly outdated. I like working on Windows 7, for example. I even bought a backup refurbished laptop with that system just in case this one hit the skids. But I was just scolded by Microsoft: “No longer going to be supporting this. Upgrade, or else.” My expensive iPad is “too old” for the OS system to update to the current one. As a result, programs are no longer working. There’s not a thing wrong with it, other than Apple loves to make these things obsolete as quickly as possible. I lost Skype credits because Skype won’t work anymore on it, either. Nor my Kindle app. Instagram is only allowing three of my library photos to upload. And I won’t even embarrass myself by telling you about my phone. It’s like when walkmans were switched out for ipods at the gym. The eighty-year old on the treadmill next to me had an ipod. I had a pack around my waist with my old tape player in it. The 80-year-old mocked me. I never managed to update to the ipod. There were so many songs on those workout tapes I loved. Who had the time to transfer all of them? The walkman finally stopped working too.

I know I need to do this, but the amount of work and the learning curve is daunting. It’s not that I can’t learn, or don’t want to–it’s the TIME involved. We finally got ourselves a VOIP phone so that we don’t have to stand on one leg on the balcony ledge to get a cellphone signal. That took hours to set up, because we tried to port our phone number, and AT&T are being asshats about it. It’s still not working properly And I have to wait until tomorrow to see if the port finally went through. If not, we have to start again.

And yet, one needs these devices to talk to the world, if one wishes to do so, which I do. Short of taking Reese Witherspoon hostage, there is no other way to announce, “By the way, I wrote a book you might like.” Especially because the only correct response to that is, “Yeah, girl, you and seven thousand other people per day.”

That is correct. At last count by the book industry, 7000 people were publishing or self-publishing per day. I am not complaining about that. The world needs books. The problem for those who write them is that it’s our goal and our publisher’s goal to get people to read ours, in particular. So you have to let readers know its out there, and social media truly helps.

I know I need to do it. It’s gotten to the point that if I don’t, I am causing extra work for myself. It’s just that I see people on them, and in some ways, it makes me sad. I have seen people ignore a sunset right in front of them because they’re busy clicking ‘like’ on a photo of a sunset. I see tourists with their phones up, filming the man-made wonders on the Strip, and not looking at them. It’s a head-scratcher to me. Google “volcano at the Mirage, Las Vegas.” Thousands of those videos come up. Does the world really need another? But there you are–standing right there, in front of it, so close you can feel the heat. You took a plane or you drove to get there, and now you’re looking at the blasted thing through your phone?

I’m serious. Watch tourists today.Years ago, people returning from vacation subjected their families to “slides.” Now we have our phones. “There’s Uncle Ned by the giant ice cream cone.” Really? How much vacation time did you waste getting that photo? And who, besides Uncle Ned, really feels its a must-see?

And those selfie sticks. First we pose. Then we pose again. Then we take the photo. Then we hate it, and delete it. We take it again. We edit out that pimple which is still right there on our chin. And we upload to Instagram, and wait for “likes”. In the meanwhile, Saint Mark’s Square behind us sunk another ten feet, and we haven’t even been inside the cathedral yet.

And don’t get me started on the comments on celebrity photos. A citizen journalist uploads a photo of dead babies hit by a drone and we don’t comment because it’s us who sent the drone. We just click “sad-face emoji” out of guilt and a sense of decency that is getting more tattered by the day. But Chrissy Teigan uploads a photo of herself with her two-month old, and thousands and thousands of people comment that she hasn’t lost her baby weight “yet.”

What’s wrong with us?

I feel young parents are missing lots of small moments with their tiny children because they’re on their phones. I don’t imagine this–I SEE this. I saw one little boy in a stroller. He was too young to speak well, but he was trying to get his mother’s attention to show her how big and round and orange the sun was looking. “Sun, Mommy, sun,” he said. She didn’t hear him. She was texting. He looked so woebegone at the same time he was awestruck. There was one of his first amazing views of nature, and the person he loved most, who was right there, wasn’t sharing it with him. It was sad for both of them.

I’m not placing blame here. These devices are so beguiling. And I enjoy them. But I purposely carry a low tech phone so I don’t get sucked into it. My husband is the same way. We were happy when we realized cellphone reception in both our home locations was dismal. That meant when our adult children came to visit, they would actually have to talk to us and to each other. But then, my mother-in-law contracted an illness, and now we need that open line so she can communicate with us whenever necessary.

This week, I’m going to get an upgraded phone. It’ a must. I can’t even get an Uber when I’m in a strange city, and sometimes one must take an Uber. But I know once I do, a last hidey-hole from the madness of our world—of hatred and shootings and neo-nazis and new emojis, and Mitch McConnell and the Kardashians is gone. When I pick up that phone, it will all be blaring at me. And I’m so afraid there will be a child with me one day who is trying to get my attention so I can see what he sees—a big, round, orange sun—and I will miss it.

But, here’s a photo of it.

Comments

  1. I’ve admired you for so long, Patricia. But this one is priceless. You said everything that I’m experiencing and seeing and cursing over.

    And Microsoft didn’t just scold me, they punished me by downloading the 10 without asking. The fact that it is now there is tolerable, but without permission is infuriating.

    And the rest? Selfies? What’s that about? Politics? I now rarely watch the news – and I used to love CNN,

    And, sorry to tell you, but I am self-published, with two more in the wings. (Do you realize just how hard the process is. by the way?) Gave up on the conventional route after 100 unsuccessful agent queries for two books. They don’t sell, but I’m comforted that they are out there, in the web wilderness.

    But thank you for your words. You are so insightful. I’ve been considering a similarly whingey post on my blog, but it’s just all too much for me, and I wouldn’t be able to stop. You have far more whinge energy.

    • Dear Fran, to clarify, self-publishing is (sometimes) the way to go. Books that get traditionally published…it doesn’t always make sense. o, if you are getting your work EDITED for content, as well as copy edits, your work has as much right to be out in the world as any of us. Thanks for the kind words about me. I am not that admirable, but I am indeed whingy. ; )

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