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June 29, 2006

Gadgetzan nation

Aside from the crude World of Warcraft reference there is a lot of truth in that title. I have noticed, and recently become a victim of, the many gadgets in our lives that are paraded around like badges of honor, serving as crude indicators of our successes or social status. I see many people using gadgets in a way that suggests everyone should look at them and notice how successful they are. Unfortunately, these people need to figure out for themselves that most of the people in the industrialized world are not impressed by their iPods, Razors, Blue Tooth earpieces or PDAs that rival most desktop systems.

You know the type. They use their little gadgets and look around to see if anyone is watching them. Put them away and do something that most kids do to give themselves a high sense of self esteem- weld a bigger more obnoxious sounding tailpipe to your Honda Civic.

Look, to all you people who think the shit you use is cool I have news for you- it's not. Perhaps 10-15 years ago it was cool to walk around with that Gumby sized cell phone but that indicator of social status faded away like the digital wristwatch with the calculator on it or the miscreants who walked around with a 50lb boom box on their shoulder.
"Wow, that guy must be important."
- Easily impressed bystander

That bit of technological ego boost is no longer relevant; I see grade school kids with cell phones now. The only people impressed by them are the other kids who live sheltered or deprived lives and are forced to use pagers. Oh, the humanity!

Take the Blue Tooth out of your ear. It makes you look pathetic and starved for attention. Unless you are the Secretary of Defense, or bringing down disabled aircraft in between PS2 games or a pimp keeping track of his bitches take the damn thing out. I am not impressed when I see a guy with this mechanical earwig permanently attached to his head.

My wife got me an iRiver, the distant cousin of the iPod, because it is compatible with the Rhapsody music service. I think the reasons for this Father's Day gift are twofold- 1) the morning radio shows suck in Hawaii and I now have something to listen to as I drive to work, and, 2) my wife wants me to quit downloading illegal mp3s. I wear this little blue piece of technology around my neck like some pseudo honky bling. This keeps the mp3 player in close proximity to me, out of my backpack where it could scratched and damaged by the random paraphernalia that gets shoved in that front pouch, and, in a small way, makes me feel cool. If Flavor Flav can wear a huge timepiece around his neck then I should be able to wear a discrete music player around mine.

I usually take it off when I disembark my vehicle to avoid the snide comments people like me make when we see other people clinging to their gadgets like some sort of a portable medical implant.

"If I take this Blue Tooth earpiece off then my eyes will start bleeding."
- Self absorbed technodork

I think cell phone usage has gotten out of control. No matter where you are there is somebody on a cell phone. I walked out of my apartment building last week and I followed a guy to the parking garage who was on the phone- at 6:30 in the morning. His car was on the third floor of the garage like mine and he had the phone up to his ear the entire time but never said a word. I thought, "Who the hell gets on the phone this early in the morning and stays on that long without saying anything?" He wasn't even giving that obligatory, "Uh, huh" that guys do when they are talking to their wife or girlfriend.

We have become so dependent on our gadgets. I can’t walk out the door without checking the three essentials: wallet, keys, cell phone. I will make an exception for my cell phone tether because I have no land line, however I do not feel the need to be connected at the ear at all times to my phone. That’s what voice mail is for. But we do feel naked without our technology accessories, don’t we?

I have also noticed that our gadgets afford us the opportunity to ignore people more often, to sidestep human contact. Who would dare to bother someone engrossed in a PDA or talking on the phone? The inconsiderate jackasses that will tell you their life story while you are trying to thumb through a Maxim magazine will have the social etiquette to bother someone else if you are playing Tetris on the cell phone. There are some benefits though, as my NYC friend and fellow blogger, Andy, pointed out. It is much safer to whip something out to divert your attention away from the creepy people on the train or bus than to have to inadvertently make eye contact.

As I am writing this at work a Senior Chief comes in to talk to me about the pending office move to the other side of the building. We will only have one phone line over there and, since we have 22 instructors, he wants to have a cordless phone station with 22 walkie talkie style phones so that everyone can have one on their desk, ready to answer the phone at a nanosecond’s notice. I explain to this guy that we only have one phone line in this office and the 3 phones we have coming off a splitter seems to be working out just fine. I recommended that we not spend money on useless gadgets and perhaps divert that money towards the asbestos removal my next office needs.

“Just don’t mess with the asbestos tiles and you won’t have to worry about it. Besides, it costs too much money to get rid of the asbestos. It’s HazMat.”
- Clueless Senior Chief

That’s awesome. While we’re at it, why don’t we just throw up some lead based paint in your office and hang barbed wire from the overhead. Just don’t mess with that shit either and you’ll be fine. By the way, it isn’t going to get any cheaper the longer we wait to remove the tiles. Maybe if we stop redecorating the Commanding Officer’s office every 2 years we will have money for this stuff. But, I digress.

The interruption from that Senior Chief has caused me to lose focus on my original post. No matter; I was wrapping it up anyway. Now I just need to find my mp3 player before I go home.


  1. OK, my cell phone gripe - why is is that people will call you, say later "I tried to call you, but your phone was off", and then not leave a voicemail? How am I supposed to know they've called until I SEE THEM if they don't leave a message.

  2. That's what the 'Missed Calls' selection is for, at least with the Cingular phone I have, but I can identify. I hate talking to a recording.

    "Uhh, yeah, it's me. I was just, uh, wondering... ah forget it." [click]

    If they don't call back then I just assume they were calling about something unimportant. Most of my calls are from illiterate locals who confuse my number with a friend of theirs who likes to stay up past midnight.