Paul Wilson

 

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Monday, December 19, 2021

 
MORE BAD MANNERS

Iím so dreadfully sorry, but I have to take back some of my criticism of Lynne Trussís new book, Talk to the Hand, on the "utter bloody rudeness of the world today." I thought Canadians were, by and large, mannerly to a fault, but I realize Ė and please, do forgive me for not pointing this out sooner Ė that in one regard, weíre as bad as the rest. Iím talking about the bad manners that seem to come, or go, with technological advance, the kind Truss discusses in the chapter on internet rudeness and other digital nightmares, entitled "Why Am I The One Doing This?" Technology always promises to save us time and labour, and it always takes more of it than we bargained for. Is that ill-mannered? You bet.
For instance, Iíve just spent the last three days trying to reconfigure my computer, rescue lost data, and reinstall things that used to work, all because Ė or so Iím told when I brave the automated phone hell called "the help line" Ė the operating system has been superseded, and the software it runs is "obsolete" (though it works just fine for me) and is no longer "serviced" by the company that developed it. I know an eight-year-old could sort out my problem in an hour, but to me, it feels like a costly betrayal. Itís as if Detroit suddenly said, "As of the end of this year, we are no longer putting internal combustion engines in cars, and we wonít be providing service or spare parts to the cars that still have them. Sorry Ė youíll just have to buy our new models. They run on environmentally friendly single-malt Scotch and you have to grease the wheels with virgin olive oil, but hey, they look really cool, and youíll be able to drive them up the side of a mountain." But I only need it to go to the store, I protest. "I hear what youíre saying, sir, but I canít help you." (I hear what heís saying too: it ainít his problem.) But what about the old engine? "No problem, sir Ė just hit 'Delete,' or drag it to the Trash. Now, which credit card will you be using?"
The word that best describes how I feel about all this comes from an older, less evolved technology: "Railroaded."

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