Cell Phones and Other Gadgets Are Great, But Are They Going too Far?

I am a gadget nut. I tend to like the small electronic gadgets. I think this goes back to my childhood. When I was in about sixth grade my dad bought me a micro-cassette recorder. I had no idea what to do with the damn thing, but I thought it was really cool just to look at. Those tiny cassettes were so cool too. They looked just like the big ones but I could fit about four in my mouth. Not that I tried that or anything.

Still, even as a confirmed gadget nut, sometimes I think technology goes to far. Nowhere is this more evident that with cell phones. I love cell phones. Again, I am the first to admit it. However, over the years I think my needs in a cell phone have rapidly decreased. I am one of those people whose main phone number and main phone is his cell phone. This means I need a phone that, oh, I don’t know, makes and receives phone calls? You try going into a cell phone store and find one that just does that these days. Do I really need to take pictures and movies with my phone? I am just not enough into making my own porn to think such a thing is necessary.

These days your cell phone can watch television, play music, take pictures, take short movies, wash your car, control the weather and alter the orbit of Jupiter. Many of those I made up. I think. Who really needs all of that stuff? I bet a lot of people were like me when those first phone camera doo-hickies cam out and thought it was cool. I bet a lot of people went out to buy them. Now how many of them actually use it to take pictures? How many grainy, tiny, blurry pictures of things do you really need? I see phone cameras being used to take pictures up unsuspecting women’s skirts more than anything else these days and you hear about that whenever one of those guys get busted at the airport or in a bar somewhere.

The gadget most of my friends are trying to cram down my throat is TiVo. Yes, I understand that it will change the way I watch television. The thing is that when it comes to things like televisions and stereos I tend to be a simple person. Does my television work? Yes? Great, I’m set. I kind of like having a schedule. I like knowing that “Smallville” is on at a certain time on a certain night and I look forward to sitting down in front of my television at that time on that particular night. I look forward to that night all week long. Same goes for shows like “24” and “Lost.” I just want to sit down on a Monday night, after work, and watch “24.” If something else is on, well, it’s not “24” and that means it loses out and that’s that.

I have sat with my friends who have TiVo. They rave about it. The thing I notice, however, is that they are almost vehemently AGAINST watching a show when it is actually on. It’s like now that they have TiVo they aren’t going to be made to sit and watch “24” on a Monday, dammit. The Man isn’t going to tell THEM when they can watch “24.” No, they are going to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to watch “24” during the time when one of their other favorite shows is on and THAT will sure teach those network guys who’s boss.

I like flipping. The big selling point I get about TiVo is that you can fast-forward through commercials. I like being able to flip during commercials. It’s a man tradition I want to uphold in my family, thank you very much. I also like to actually pay attention during a show so I have no need to rewind. I have too many friends with ADHD, I think.

On the other hand, I can see how it can be seductive. My parents have a cable network that comes with the OnDemand or InDemand feature. I forget which it is. Yes, yes, yes, TiVo nuts I know it isn’t exactly the same thing. On the other hand, it kind of is. See, I am a big fan of several HBO shows. I love “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood,” and “Entourage.” All of them pop up on Sunday nights. Well, I don’t have HBO on my home cable so I tend to catch the shows using the OnDemand feature the week following the new episode. I slipped right into that routine with barely a nod or a wink. You can even fast-forward past the opening credits with that. My parents have even gotten into it so they can watch those shows on other nights without having to worry about using video tapes.

Still, I do not have TiVo so it is easy for me to poke fun. Once I have it I am sure the sky will open up and angels will sing and a beam of glorious light will fall upon my forehead just like all of my friends seem to indicate will happen. I will understand the inner-workings of the universe and I will not be remotely creeped out by a machine who apparently can read my mind and determine what it thinks I want to watch.

One of the greatest moments with gadgets came between myself and my friend Scott. Scott loves his satellite dish. He has raved about it into my ear non-stop for roughly half a century or so it seems. I am happy with just cable. He can’t believe that this is the case. I have suggested if I were to upgrade maybe I would just go to digital cable. This somehow insults his sensibilities. I tell him how I have been over at a friend’s house who had the dish and that when it rained or snows sometimes the satellite went out and the picture went nuts. The reaction I typically got was like this:

SCOTT: What? You’ve been at my house when it rains. The entire time I have had that it has NEVER gone out when the weather was bad.

I shrugged. OK, maybe you get lucky. I just know what I saw. So, one day, not long ago, we are with a group of people to watch the Super Bowl. Scott starts talking about the satellite TV with another friend’s sister. She mentions that she loves it. Scott thinks he has me. I can’t remember the exact details of the conversation but it went something like this:

SCOTT: So, you love your satellite television?

SISTER: Oh yea, it’s great.

SCOTT: And your service never goes out or anything does it?

SISTER: No, it always seems to work.

SCOTT: I’m glad you said that because I was just talking to Bryan and he was saying the satellite would go out when it rains and I – –

SISTER: Oh, when it rains? Yeah, it goes out all the time when it does that.

Scott was defeated and I admit to doing some version of a touchdown dance. Apparently Scott got the satellite dish with the forcefield feature.

Or maybe that was something that came with his cell phone.

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