Why modern technology is such a turn-off

Sally Hopman 27 August 2021 1
Mickey

Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine: Mickey checking out his reflection, or how those other people got in there, or whether any snacks would fall out. Photo: Sally Hopman.

Have you noticed we don’t talk anymore? Sorry, that’s a song title. Take 2.

It seems we don’t communicate the way we used to. Like with our mouths. Face to face, even. In the same space. To people we have actually met in the flesh.

Rather, in these strange new times, we’re switching to devices, platforms, sites and tablets. Talking is so, well, 2020.

We seem to want to do anything but talk to each other. It’s not like I’m a fan of meetings. Well, I was, until while working in the Public Service, I was invited to a meeting to discuss a meeting. I couldn’t really see the point of life after that.

Apparently, many people are getting into the act when it comes to being really smart and knowing all the answers.

Used to be that you’d ask your partner, mother or a commercial radio shock-jock for personal advice. Now it’s a perfect stranger.

Yes, we know her name is Siri, but what else do we know about her? Did she go to school for the technically challenged? I bet she doesn’t even know what a Luddite is. I mean, she lives in a computer for pity’s sake. She’s also regularly asked whether she’s a robot. As if. Yet we ask her the most personal of stuff. Like where is the closest chemist that sells one’s favourite brand of unmentionables? And she’s such a show-off, almost always claiming to have all the answers – and making you repeat yourself if she doesn’t so you feel like a fool.

She should be ashamed of herself. Butting into perfect strangers’ lives – even if they ask her to. What a nerve. Someone should shut her down.

Then there’s someone else we don’t know who we ask about the traffic. I mean, can’t you just look? If you leave your home, get into your car and can’t get out onto the road because there are lots of other cars there blocking your way, might it be best to go back inside again? There, that’s good advice from someone who knows and cares. Just don’t ask me where you’re going (in your life) because I’m likely to tell you exactly where.


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But when it comes to one new phase of communication technology, I have to admit I am a fan. Or became so this week when our dogs virtually took over a meeting.

Seeing me sitting at the desk talking to the screen, my dog, Mickey, must have thought there would be an opportunity for snacks there. Somewhere. He could see the screen divided up into about 10 squares and faces looking out smiling at him. They weren’t, but there’s no point hurting his feelings.

So he crawled up my leg and stood perched half on me, half on the desk, gazing at his handsomeness on the screen. The virtual meeting was with a fabulous group of women who write and direct for Region Media.

Mickey must have heard about the interesting things we talk about because he lobbed down right in the middle of the screen. Then, as if by magic, almost everyone else’s dogs started appearing either in arms, baskets, on the floor or in charge – that would be the office HR Manager, Mr Smiggle. It was bliss to be back in the real world where dogs rule and people smile at each other.

I love that it was the dogs who brought back why we communicate face-to-face with our own kind. Yes, it was by device, but at least we could see each other. There was no turning back, just off.

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Cath Cath 4:17 pm 08 Sep 21

What a lovely face Mickey has!
I’m finding that all the video calls are making me sad and stressed. They feel like we’re all pretending. I thought I would be used to it by now, but the need to keep up appearances and carry on working is exhausting.
Sally, you are right: pets, children and other comforting elements of normality should be acceptable on our video calls. They really help humanise this very abnormal new part of our working lives.

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