Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Living an Enhanced Life

I’m getting tired of people trying to enhance my life. My cell phone company wants to enhance my wireless experience for a nominal additional charge. What are they going to do? Persuade my friends to call more often and everyone else to leave me alone? Bill Gates wants to enhance my computing experience. It’s already so enhanced it acts as if it would be better off without me. You want to type a blog article? We’re in the middle of an important security upgrade; type your freaking blog some other time. Steve Jobs is enhancing your smart phone enjoyment by preventing you from acquiring apps that let you make free phone calls. Even my bank is joining the enhancement band wagon. They told me they are improving their terms of service but the only change I can see is an increase in their fees.

I’ve even done some enhancing of my own. In my last job I was supposed to help teachers enhance the learning process. Actually, the only thing that could enhance the learning process would be to get rid of the current crop of students and find some new ones.

I think all this enhancement stuff is the digital age’s version of planned obsolescence. Does it strike anybody else as mildly irritating that the people who are trying to sell you their upgraded, start-of-the-art gadget today are the same folks that sold you the antiquated dysfunctional crap you bought from them last year? I’m not the one that’s calling their prior products crap – they are! For example, look at television. Are we to believe that predictable sitcoms and overly hyped “reality” shows are better in high definition than they were in their more blurry format? Is the script any better when delivered in Dolby digital stereo?

If you believe television shows are better now that they have been enhanced, then prepare yourself for brilliance when you watch The Big Bang Theory in 3D. Of course this means that you will have to replace your $3000 flat screen marvel with a new $4000 3D model, but it will be worth it for the enhanced level of entertainment you will receive. The nature of programming will of course change somewhat. Lest you forget you are watching in 3D, lots of things are going to be hurled at your face. No doubt your cable company will think it only fair to charge you extra for all that hurling.

Even texting has been enhanced. It now converts speech to text, adds GPS location tags, and emoticons to save you the bother of typing LOL at the end of every line. (Imagine if someone had told Charles Dickens that without emoticons nobody would know he was being humorous.) Texting is getting so good that it is almost like using your phone to have a conversation. I wonder if Alexander Bell could have foreseen that coming!

Some people think that none of this is happening fast enough. The other day I heard somebody say, “I love 3D. I wish there were more of it.” Perhaps he should try looking out the window.

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