When I worked at Wal-mart, part of the “training” given to the staff required sitting on our asses in front of computers to watch badly rendered animated people going through a work day doing things wrong so we could later answer multiple choice questions about the right way to get things accomplished. The training system had a built-in timer so a person would have to stop and take a computer-mandated break before more “training” could continue.
Now I read about a guy in the States who has essentially set up a system for his home computer to do something similar and kick him off the internet at regular intervals so he will get other shit done with his day instead of blow the whole of it surfing the web. And that’s not all:
many tools are now available to help people stay in line, including a GPS-enabled app that locks down texting once a car gets rolling and a program that cuts off credit-card spending. Another device monitors your workout and offers real-time voice feedback.
Have we entered an era in which electronics serve as mother, cop and coach because we can’t manage our own desires?
Yep, said Ann Mack, a trend-watcher for JWT Intelligence, an arm of the marketing giant. She named “outsourcing self-control” and “de-teching” as two top trends for the new year.
“The thing is we’re becoming more aware of these behaviors, and as a result, we’re trying to seek help to circumvent some of our more base impulses,” Mack said. “We’re bombarded more and more with temptations on a regular basis, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to deal with that.”
And before Christmas I ran across this romantic gift idea. The Phonekerchief will block cell phone signals so you and your special someone can eat a dinner uninterrupted and thus prove your love.
Me, I just keep mine turned off and never run into this problem. But I guess I’m ahead of the curve in terms of keeping the tech from overtaking my life. The Sun Times article mentions an app that blocks texting.
The app, sold in several other counties as well, hit the BlackBerry market Sept. 3 and has been downloaded about 2,000 times.
Among those downloading the app were three companies with a combined fleet of more than 1,200 trucks. Distler estimates about 48 percent of his sales are parents hoping to curtail the texting habits of young drivers.
“Nobody’s really going to just put the phone down and not use it,” he said. “The issue is we don’t police ourselves.”
I do. Mind you, I don’t have a job that requires constant contact with a supplier or client, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the same delivery (or whatever) jobs got done 20 years ago without this shit in the car to distract people. Throw the phone in the back seat so it’s unreachable. Lock it in the trunk. Shut the bloody thing off for a change. Surely the world won’t end if people can’t get in touch with you for an hour. Oh right.. some of this is ultimately aimed toward teenagers who have grown up in a hyper-connected environment and have never known any other way to get by in the world. Five minutes without a phone message must be an eternity to them.
Mack thinks a greater awareness of how we consume has produced a growing awareness of the limits of self-control.
“The spotlight has definitely been put on that,” she said. “We’re increasingly living in this era of mindfulness. Expect more technology coming out that saves us from ourselves.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that’s pretty depressing. Companies have created these technical wonders and their advertisers have lured people into thinking they’re all necessary and vital to own, just like drug company ads and the creation of new mental ailments that require these pills as treatment. Now they’re luring the weak-willed into getting even more tech stuff with the alluring promise of providing a cure for what ails them. The best way to avoid this trap is to not buy any of that shit in the first place. Save your money, save your time, save your fucking sanity.
And on that note, I’m turning my computer off for the rest of the day. I’ve got things to do.