Issue #120 – “Connected at the Chip” – December 3rd, 2007

-This year, I spent more time on the phone with technical support than I did on the phone with my mom.  No one benefits from this – not me, not the support reps I become surly with after about 90 seconds, and certainly not my mom.  The fact is, our generation is more dependent on technology than ever before.  I’m beholden to anything with a computer chip – be it a laptop, cell phone, or DVR that always cuts off the end of Grey’s Anatomy.  While my dad thinks an email address and a URL are the same thing, and can’t copy and paste without using the mouse, I think meeting a girl in person and on Facebook are the same thing, and can’t travel more than two blocks without consulting Google Maps.  So although it’s unclear who benefits from all this new technology, one thing’s for certain: today’s twentysomethings are connected at the chip.

-In February, I did something I never thought I’d do: I switched to a Mac.  For me, this was the technological equivalent of becoming a Red Sox fan, but after doing the research I felt it was the best move.  My new computer looks totally gourmet, but, nine months later, I wish I felt more euphoric about the switch.  It’s kind of like dating a really hot girl that you don’t have strong feelings for.  You want to love her, but in the end you’ll just settle for your friends being impressed when they see you together.

-I have a Google Alert set up for my name so that if anyone writes an article about me, I get an email about it.  The only problem is, there’s an Armenian ultimate fighter named Karo “The Heat” Parisyan, and Google sometimes gets us confused.  I’ll think I’m clicking on an article about one of my books, and it’ll turn out to be about a mixed martial arts tournament.  Sometimes I wonder if the other Karo experiences the same problem, but I have a feeling he’s too busy kicking ass to configure Google Alerts.

-The best part about DVR is trying to fast forward exactly when the show is about to go to commercial, and hitting play exactly when it comes back.  We all know when our favorite shows are about to go to break – we can tell by the music and camerawork; our pupils dilate and blood rushes to our trigger finger.  We also sense when the commercials are about to be over – usually because there’s a promo for the local newscast or the show “Bones” (neither of which I’ve ever heard of anyone ever watching).

-You ever notice that you consider the time on your cell phone to be the “official time”?  You can ask someone the time, or look at your watch, but you’re never really sure until you pull out your cell phone.  And how come when your friend’s phone dies yet again, and you tell him that his phone sucks, he always gets so defensive?  He’s like, “Listen, it’s one thing to insult my intelligence for buying this phone, but it’s another thing to insult the phone itself – that’s just uncalled for.  By the way, what time is it?”

-I think that most people are in agreement that MySpace is rapidly becoming another Friendster: a spam-filled clusterfuck whose only regular users are teenagers in the Philippines.  And let’s be honest, Facebook is not far behind.  The great irony is that for all our advances in technology, the same problems keep happening over and over again.  When cell phones first became popular, I’d get a million accidental calls because my first name starts with two As and is often listed first in friends’ address books.  Now, I get a million invitations to completely irrelevant events on Facebook – again because my first name is listed at the top and people are just clicking away indiscriminately.  Life would just be so much easier if Karo was my first name instead of my last.  At the very least, people would be less likely to invite me to stupid shit if there was a chance the Facebook notification might accidentally go to a certain Armenian ultimate fighter.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Why does the amount of time it takes my iPod to fully charge have absolutely no correlation to the amount of time it was actually in use?

-If I email you a document or other important information, just write back, “Thanks, got it.”  I hate when people don’t respond at all, leaving me to wonder whether my missive pierced the thicket of spam that clogs every inbox.  A mere acknowledgement would go a long way toward my peace of mind and your not being an asshole.

-One of the problems with sites like MySpace and Facebook is that there are just too many goddamn options and features.  Here’s a few things you should NOT be able to do: Caption a photo of you and your girl friends as “my beautiful ladies” when they’re all beat.  Post the phrases “It’s about time!” or “Finally!” to the wall of a friend who’s just now signing up.  Make your profile private if you’re a dude.  List your age as 99 years old.  List that you’re “married” to your best friend.  Post a profile photo of you and a celebrity.  Only post photos that make it difficult to extrapolate how hot you actually are.  (That last no-no is especially important, considering it’s the entire reason most of us non-Filipinos are on the site to begin with.)

-One type of technology I use very rarely is instant messaging.  This is only because I can’t stand to sit there waiting for a response, and most people are too slow.  If you want to IM with me, it needs to be rapid fire stream-of-consciousness.  Otherwise you’re just wasting time I could be spending wasting time on Facebook.

-I consider myself fairly tech-savvy.  I subscribe to Wired.  I spend about twelve hours a day online.  But I can’t write a lick of code.  And as I mentioned in Ruminations #86, I’m attracted to chicks who can do things I can’t do – which is why I’ve got a thing for doctors.  I’ve also got a thing for programmers.  The problem is, there’s got to be even fewer hot, female programmers in the world than there are hot, female doctors.  I’m really starting to limit myself.  I think my mom is getting worried that I might never meet someone.  Of course, I haven’t talked to her in a while since I’ve been on the phone with Apple tech support for the past week.

-My buddy Brian turns his TV’s closed captioning feature on whenever he’s watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Flight of the Conchords, or any other show where the characters have weird accents – because he has trouble understanding what they’re saying.  That’s just plain lazy.  The next step is to have me sit beside him and just tell him when to laugh.

-And, finally, while Facebook has been the spark behind more than a few hook-ups and relationships, to many its greatest resource is to provide post-break-up intelligence.  I get a kick out of watching jilted lovers scan the profiles of their exes, hoping for some clue as to how they’re getting along – obsessing over women that appear in their photo albums, searching for patterns in their wall posts, and analyzing their status updates for deeper meaning.  Thus another great irony is that, these days, we’re so connected that it’s easier to end an offline relationship than it is to end an online one.  We can break up but we can’t log off.  I still hope, though, that somewhere down the road, technology will make our lives truly more fulfilling – without all the hassle that comes along with it.  And when that happens, it’ll be OK to list my age as 99 years old – but only because by then it’ll actually be true.  Fuck me.