The Demon Technology
Yesterday Himself and I celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day we met. At a hen party, but that’s another story…
Today he said something to me he would never have said 40 years ago, or even 20. I was in the kitchen, he was in his office, whence issued some very strange noises. ‘Is that your printer making that noise?’ I enquired.
‘No,’ sez he, I’m watching YouTube.’
‘Oh, OK’ sez I, and went on peacefully chopping vegetables.
It got me thinking. There’s so much about life today that we take blithely for granted. Got a problem or a question? Google it. Want to post on Facebook? Take out your phone. What, your phone battery is flat and you’re away from home? Then charge it up in the car, silly. We Tweet on the move, we Instagram in bed, we read books on our phones and watch movies on our tablets.
And then there’s email, which my young(er) friends tell me is soooo last year. Well, I’ve got news for you, kiddies: it’s actually last century. I remember email back in the 80s: we had it at Granada and it was called PROFS. OK, it was only an internal system (that is, it connected my office in London with my friend’s office in Manchester, but not with the outside world) but we thought it was the bee’s wotsits.
And while we were thinking ourselves fine fellows, communicating without leaving our desks, Himself was out in the real world, marketing… email. Whisper it not, a Swiss-American corporation called Service 800 introduced ‘electronic mail’ to a startled world way back in 1979.
It didn’t catch on. Puzzled that his crack sales team wasn’t making any headway with this revolutionary new invention, Himself went to investigate. Of course, this was (nearly) the 80s, so ‘investigate’ was another word for ‘went out to lunch’. Over a post-prandial brandy or two, Himself broached the subject with the communications director of a major bank, one of his biggest clients.
‘It’s wonderful,’ he enthused. ‘Just think, you can send an instant message to colleagues in New York or Singapore and it’ll be there on their desks whenever they turn on their computers. What’s not to like?’
‘But who does the typing?’ demurred the reluctant client.
‘That’s the beauty of it. You do it yourself. You don’t need to waste your secretary’s time with dictation.’
‘It’ll never work,’ said Bank Man. ‘Men don’t type.’
And there’s a salutary lesson to all of us whose lives are increasingly ruled by the demon technology. Never diss it. Never say ‘it’s not for me.’ Trust me: tomorrow, you’ll do the typing.