Tech Overload

Curse of the Nerd Dildo

July 03, 2013

Multiple Pages
Curse of the Nerd Dildo

When I was a larval nerdling in graduate school, I allowed myself to be seen in public places with a ridiculous pocket computer in a hip holster. It was a tremendously useful device for a physics graduate student. This compensated for the opprobrium rightly hurled at me by people less touched by the dork side of the force. It came with the ability to do symbolic integrals and work out the Feynman diagrams. I could also check email, run a Web browser capable of accessing the AltaVista search engine, and write useful software I’d upload to the school’s Cray supercomputer. I kept notes and “to do” lists on the thing and even managed to read the Iliad on it. It was a most useful, if nerdy device, rightly relegating me to the outer limits of social respectability in the mid-1990s.

Regardless of my early exposure to its predecessors, I hate the “smart” phone. Smart phones, despite being vastly more computationally powerful than my old pocket computer, are dumb. Other than a few people with unusual jobs, no human being on planet Earth needs a networked computer with a camcorder in their pocket. Certainly no civilized person needs to be mainlining the Internet machine all day.

“People feel lost without looking at the world through an electrical version of a toilet-paper tube.”

Despite usurious “data plans” and preposterous sticker prices, nobody seems to be able to do without the doofus things these days. People feel lost without looking at the world through an electrical version of a toilet-paper tube. People fiddle with them incessantly. The average user has a relationship with his telephonic device not unlike that between Gollum and his precious. I call them “nerd dildos.” 

I am not a technophobe. I have a laptop when I need to use an actual computer outside the house, which is most of the day. I have a $10 prepaid cell phone I use on the rare occasion I need to be reached outside the office. When I want to have an actual conversation, I use Skype or my landline, both of which work better than the alleged telephonic features of your typical nerd dildo. Telephones using wires also do not mysteriously drop phrases or entire conversations, and they never run out of batteries. Mine is even free of charge from my ISP. It’s bad enough that a client may be attempting to communicate with me using one of these imbecilic things; a two-way spoken-word conversation using nerd dildos is a lot like communicating with a deaf mime.

People wonder how I live without a priapic doodad serving me constant advertising and tracking my every move. It is easy. Unencumbered with a $500 target for thieves and $100-a-month “data plan” bills, I worry less about my finances. When I need to meet someone, I agree to a time and place in advance and meet them there. If I’m going to be late, I call them on my $10 telephone. If they require constant “text message” reassurances that I’m actually going to show up, I don’t want anything to do with them anyway. Should I need directions, I use the ancient invention known as the map to find out where to go. Should I get lost on the way, I use the even more antediluvian invention known as spoken language to ask someone where I am. Neither technology requires data plans or battery chargers.

 

The one helpful social side effect of “smart phones” is a reduction in the number of loud idiots bellowing half a conversation in public places. Since their wireless ding-dongs don’t work so well as a legacy telephone, most rude gits have taken up texting. Unfortunately, otherwise polite people now find it impossible to refrain from hypnotically stroking their electrical pork sword in public places. Fiddling with your precious nerd dildo in public ought to be regarded the same way as picking your nose: It’s occasionally useful if done discreetly, but it’s always rude and shameful. 

What unmet psychological need causes people to alert the universe that they have “checked in” at their coffee shop? What perverse compulsion makes Tweeting blockheads want to share their neural misfirings with the world 140 characters at a time? What pathological dopamine loop causes people to fondle and caress their chirping nerd dingus while attempting to converse with civilized people who are corporeally present? What debauchery of human evolution causes people to post snapshots of their godforsaken lunch, their tasteless concert-goings, or their general drunken idiocy? Am I supposed to be jealous of the really excellent times being had by people so screwed-up that they think live photographic updates of their parlous existence makes them more interesting? If there is something very important happening on the Internets, maybe you should stay home and use a real computer to find out about it. If you’re attempting to maintain a 140-character limited conversation with people all over the world, is there a chance you’d be happier making friends without the aid of the creepy spybot idol in your pocket?

I have a couple of friends who develop software for the things. These experts have informed me that the real-world utility of smart-phone software is to make money for software developers. There are no applications for doing useful work on “smart” phones. The screen is too small, and in any case, nobody seems to want useful programs for their nerd dildo; they want distractions. Blessed with a shorter attention span than the common fruit fly, modern homo sapiens uses his nerd dildo to distract himself from the horrors of being alone and conscious for more than a few seconds. 

Computers have inarguably increased human power over nature. They allow us to plumb the universe’s mysteries and run statistics on systems of incredible complexity. They make cars run better, and they make the trains run on time. They even allow us to communicate more efficiently. Nerd dildos do no such thing; all they do is prevent people from excreting an uninterrupted thought that lasts longer than a couple of heartbeats. 

 

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