London: A City Obsessed With Technology

I hate technology as much as the Queen hated Dodi Al Fayed; only I’m more upfront about it.  If I was on my moped and saw an Apple Mac sidling along beside me in its Merc’ I would definitely obstruct the driver’s vision. London is a city that lives and breathes technology. Its deep, smoggy pores are infected by deep grimy wells of wires, connections and radio waves. Its face full of 21st century cyber acne seems to grow a new pustule every day.

Like those new Underground escalator panels that are 3-D and all fancy and animated. What the fuck?  If they blew out cold air I’d be as ecstatic as a 40-year-old from Chelsea on botox day, but they don’t. Soon these nifty little moving-stair TVs will be able to change the brand being advertised to fit in with what is happening weather-wise; so say if we have a rare ‘sunshine moment’ the media buyers can swap to advertising ice-cream at the push of a button. Clearly London needs to consume more.

Londoners seem to spend their entire lives ‘touching in and out’ with their Oysters, staring at their Outlook, arranging Mpegs into folders, and doing thingies on their wotsits. The Underground was once retreat from modern technology, a sanctuary in which you could read from a piece of paper rather than a screen. But now people are drafting emails in preparation for their resurface and lobbying TFL for underground mobile phone signals; it’s as if not having a full set of bars on the left side of their Nokia screen is tantamount to a similar change on their parent’s life support machine.

Oyster cards should be called Lobster cards; the ticket-purchasing screen full of choices resembles that of Strike It Lucky and initially sent me into blind panic. The laptop-wielding villagers were grunting behind me and thinking where to hide ‘the body’.

It’s not just London don’t get me wrong, but being here has aggravated my condition. I don’t even like techno music. I like pop music. Incidentally it is pop that has broken my mum’s laptop; unbeknownst to any music connoisseur with a modicum of taste, it didn’t physically reject Girls Aloud but rather I spilled a can of Fanta on it.

I tried to convince my mum that Sid the Wily computer gnome was the culprit but alas mother’s finally off the sauce and will no longer believe such fantastical tales. Thus my insatiable dread; for tonight I must explain why the TV is now as much use as a colander is a method of birth control.

Perhaps I’ll fiddle with the Sat Nav in her car so that instead of taking her to AA it takes her to the Dog and Gun pub in Penkridge. Yes, I will lead the horse to water and get the poor fucker pissed. Then I can tell her she traded the TV for Scotch when the gin ran dry and the reason she doesn’t remember is because of the head trauma for tumbling down the stairs. The fatal flaw in this genius and Sun-newspaper-selling story of deceit and murder within my own family is TECHNOLOGY. I’ll no doubt be unable to use the Sat Nav.

Even the safety of relatively dated and simple machinery is precarious in my possession.  I recently bought a used (but clearly well looked after) Dirt Devil for £12 in the Oxfam in Notting Hill. I probably could have gotten a new one for that price but ho-hum, feed the starving and all that. It was working with the gusto of a hooker with a crack habit when I decided it was capable of suctioning up some gravelly stuff that I created in the midst of a DIY project…it couldn’t.

Given my technological dyslexia I mandate the use of manual tools; anything that sucks face with a wall socket is no friend of mine. I love each one of my limbs dearly, even the little ones, so there isn’t no machine gonna be taking my digits away; I said it to the Terminator sent from the future to kill me and I’ll say it to Black and Decker, ‘get out of my face microchips, ok???’

So this poor little Dirt Devil, or Dust Angel as I had newly christened it, was going to hell; I’m guessing it had spent more time as a Dirt Devil than a dust angel so the percentages won the case for Beelzebub on that one. I found this genuinely distressing.  It was clear that some very particular old dear had cared for it as if it were a close relative or family pet and some cold-hearted daughter in-law had just put it in a rubble sack and left it at charity’s door, not caring whose hands it would end up in as her hands were now full of her husband’s inheritance. Then I’ve gone and Hoovered up gravel and broken it before it could unpack its attachments and settle in.

If I were a film star I would inevitably be cast as a techno novice in pastiches of popular hits such as You’ve Got Mail…But You’ve No Fucking Clue How To Open It, Pretty Woman…Shame She Can’t Use a Laptop and Friday the 13th (Or Is It, Not Sure as I Can’t Open Outlook Again…).

My indelible past of techno inadequacy haunts me like a dead relative who was deprived their final resting place on the family plot. I wish I could escape this shocking past of computer deficiency but one of my best friends (who used to be my boss) still makes like brown owl at a camp fire every time I introduce him to a new friend or colleague.  Everybody gather round for the classic time-old tale of Jonathan’s ‘computer spills’ he quips. Ha-de-fucking ha. Let’s see you tell that story with no teeth when I internal monologue Patrick Bateman-style.

Frankly, artificial intelligence scares me; it’s like a blonde with fake 34G titties speaking with the scientific grace of Stephen Hawking, or me holding a conference on the future of Apple, it just plain spins me out.

Crux of it is this, can we not put the cyber breaks on before we hit an oil patch and slide right into the story from Terminator, where machines are so sophisticated they have developed a race of their own, intent on becoming the dominant, and might I add, metal and emotionless, race?

Let’s readdress this crazy balance; perhaps go back to good old fashioned abacuses and ink typewriters. Now who’s with me?

Of course, the truth of the matter is this, I’m like a plain girl who hates her pretty peers and claims to genuinely ‘love reading alone at lunch’; I pretend to loathe computers but if I had the skills I’d be exploiting them too.

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