Issue #166 – “Drunk with Power” – March 22nd, 2010

-Everyone’s had that feeling of helplessness when you can’t find your cell phone or forget to charge your laptop or are unable to get an Internet connection. The first phase is panic. The second phase is anger. The third phase is nostalgia, as you hark back to a time when you didn’t need an app to order pizza. The fourth and final phase is surrender, as you realize you can’t get anything done and resign to take a nap instead. Technology has given us the power to booty-text five girls at once, the power to reconnect with kindergarten classmates we had no desire to reconnect with, and the power to check email at times and in places God and Google never intended. These days, everybody is drunk with power – which means we’re all setting ourselves up for a nasty hangover.

-Having a buddy who can’t send personal emails from work is like corresponding with someone living in another hemisphere. By the time they get home and reply, whatever you were talking about has become obsolete and you’re already asleep. If your company installs a new firewall, you might as well move to Australia, because that’s what it will feel like to your friends anyway.

-Remember that one random time that you called tech support ranting and raving, then rolled your eyes when told to make sure the device was actually plugged in, before realizing it in fact wasn’t plugged in? Well that’s the reason why customer service reps treat us all like idiots.

-I recently had a power outage in my apartment building that lasted so long I finally just gave up and went out run to errands. While I was gone, a friend informed me that power had been restored. When I returned home, I fully expected all my gadgets to have come to life in my absence, like a scene from that movie “Batteries Not Included.”

-As many of you know, I do all my grocery shopping online to minimize the amount of human interaction I have to endure. It’s also quite convenient. The only drawback is that it’s really difficult to gauge sizes when all the products are displayed in thumbnails. A 128-fluid-ounce drum of soy sauce? Yeah…that looks about right.

-My BlackBerry is set to “Vibrate + Tone,” meaning it will vibrate first, and then either ring (if I’m getting a call), beep (text), or ping (BBM). The brief moment of silence after it vibrates but before the subsequent tone is akin to hearing screeching tires and waiting to hear the car accident. It’s almost always a letdown. 90% of my incoming BBMs are from friends just saying hi, 90% of texts are from iPhone chumps who can’t BBM me, and 90% of calls are from shady Unknown Numbers or are fundraising pleas from my alma mater. There should be a setting for “Vibrate + Disappointment.”

-I haven’t had an office job in nearly eight years, but I recall that during my time on Wall Street it was kinda frowned upon to talk on your cell phone at your desk. Nowadays, though, I rarely call my friends’ work numbers during the day. A lot of my friends are big shots with assistants and that’s just one more instance of human interaction I can do without. When I call my friends’ cell phones while they’re working, they usually don’t have a problem picking up and chatting. So I guess cell phones are now so ubiquitous, the stigma of using them at work no longer persists. It also means there’s no reason not to return my personal emails in a timely fashion. Last I checked, the email firewall on your work computer doesn’t affect your iPhone, so write me back when I ask if you want to go to Happy Hour. You may be drunk with power, but I just wanna get drunk.

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

-How can this special, personalized offer be available to me “or Current Resident”?

-It’s pointless to refer to an athlete as an “11-time All-Star” in a sport where the fans vote. That doesn’t tell me how talented a player he is, just that he’s really popular.

-If you didn’t have an email account when you were a freshman in college, then you are officially considered old. That’s the cut-off I’ve just decided on.

-I recently saw a dog whose owner had dyed its fur pink. Instead of ripping into this chick, I’m gonna give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe when the dog sheds, this makes it easier to clean up because the hair is more visible. Or perhaps she believes it will be easier to find the pink dog when it inevitably runs away because its owner is a raging psychopath.

-For whatever reason, my cleaning woman left the mat in my tub upside down, so when I got in to take a shower the next day, I stepped on the suction cup part. I’ve never been more terrified. For an instant I thought an octopus or something had crawled through the drain. Jumping three feet in the air while shrieking is not a good look when you’re naked.

-I don’t drink coffee, but meeting for coffee is a thing normal people do I guess, so oftentimes I’ll just get a decaf iced coffee. Then I started getting the mocha flavor. Sometimes they’ll put whipped cream on top. Let me tell you, it’s really hard for people to take you seriously in meetings when you’re basically drinking a glorified milkshake.

-My car key has a little release switch that allows me to remove my house keys from the ignition key so that I can give only that key to the valet. What exactly am I worried about? That while I’m inside the restaurant, this guy is gonna make a copy of my apartment key and run my license plate through a database to find my address? I just paid someone nine bucks to park my car – I’m already getting robbed.

-And, finally, even though I’m not “old” – at least according to my definition – I haven’t always been so receptive to new technology. In fact, in the October 2003 issue of this column, I wrote: “Memo to people who email me asking me to join Friendster: I already have a network of friends. They’re called my friends. Clearly you are not one of them.” My more recent fondness for Facebook and Twitter proves that I’ve changed my tune when it comes to social networking. However, the deeper sentiment behind my statement about Friendster remains true: urging me to jump on the latest tech trend will only cause me to resist it. I’m stubborn like that. Right now, you’d have to pry the BlackBerry out of my cold, dead hand. But whether I ever cave some day and get an iPhone depends on only one thing. When I go out drinking and am stricken with a horrible, throbbing hangover – is there an app for that? Fuck me.