Saturday, August 25, 2012

Contorted Commerce

My entrance into the world now generally called “technology” began with an Apple IIe. I was a rank beginner, and it took me some time to discover that Apple’s general strategy was to obsolete its products on what seemed to be a schedule. This irritated me enough to abandon Apple for IBM; I never bought another Apple product since. The other day our cell phone finally failed. I thought it might be fixable, so naively I took it to a shop. They looked at it and laughed. I ended up with a Samsung product. Satisfying, that. Apple at least temporarily prevailed over Samsung yesterday—and it pleased me that I was helping Apple’s opponent.

I belong to what might be a silent majority—people who treat tools as tools. Especially in the “technology” category—until it too gets absorbed into ordinary reality—the corporate impulse is to exploit the customer by obsolescing product at regular intervals. Microsoft is working on yet another bloody version of Windows. Facebook is terror-ridden because it can’t as yet put ads on smartphones. I’m in the majority that only needs a stupidphone—and I get those free with a wireless telephone contract. Never bought a car except to get some transportation. My ego is big enough without a $50,000 emblem that spends virtually all of its time waiting to be used.

But what about progress? Well, where are you progressing to? The funeral home is a pretty good guess. Back before “technology” appeared, I’m thinking of the Egyptians, the big egos in that day had themselves embalmed. Call it the terminal technology. I’m waiting for the Market to launch LaZer-Cremation as the Baby Boom finally reaches its collective apotheosis. After that we might actually return to normalcy again. It’s coming. It’s coming.

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