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KALIS: New and improved, or just new and different?

• Oct 17, 2017 at 1:00 PM

I admit that I am pretty much the furthest thing from tech-savvy as you can be, slightly edging out my 77-year-old mom, and perhaps a newborn infant — although “My First iPad” might very well be on today’s baby registries, for all I know.

Actually, I think most of my problems stem from simply being impatient. These devices are supposed to be smart and fast, so when I click or tap something and it doesn’t respond right away, well, I tend to click or tap some more. And the more I do that, the longer it takes and the more frustrated I become.

So, yeah, I guess I’m partly to blame, but it doesn’t help that just when I get the hang of something, it changes — and not always for the better!

Technological advances are constantly taking place — so much so that everyone expects it, can’t wait for what’s new and anxiously awaits the next best thing. To feed these expectations, I think sometimes changes are made simply for the sake of making them — like when the only difference in the new version of your phone is the reconfigured charger so you have to buy a new one. Or when a software update takes away your favorite feature or makes it more complicated than it used to be. Or even when your favorite Greek yogurt changes its formula for no apparent reason other than to bum you out.

You can tell me it’s new, but don’t you dare say it’s improved!

Cellphones are the worst. When they were first around, every year they got smaller and smaller, which was portrayed as better and better. Then one day someone must have realized they had to do something different, so they said, “I know! Let’s make them bigger again!” I wish someone could explain to me why having a phone so big you can’t even fit it in your pocket is a good thing.

Of course, when it just didn’t make sense to enlarge the phone any more, out came the tablet, which is much more convenient to carry around, don’t you think? Even watches have become huge because who doesn’t want to have their inbox with them at all times on their wrist? Somewhere, Flavor Flav with his giant clock necklace is saying, “I told you I knew what was up.”

Eventually, there will be large screens we can attach to ourselves, suspended in front of our faces. Of course, you will need to purchase the mount for that separate.

There are plenty of other so-called “improvements” that baffle me, too. Autocorrect is my nemesis, turning everything I try to say into an incomprehensible cluster of nonsense. The fact that I have to correct the autocorrect is pretty annoying and certainly doesn’t make my life easier. Nor does the dashboard of my car. Sometimes I’d just like to do something basic, like turn on my windshield wipers or change the radio station without deciphering from the thousands of lit-up options before me. It’s like I’m a pilot sitting at the helm of a jet, when all I really want to do is switch lanes.

The hands-free calling is awesome, but sometimes I could take an exit, pull over and dial my phone faster than having to repeat myself because the voice doesn’t understand what I’m asking. It’s like talking to my hard-of-hearing grandpa, asking for a Band-Aid and being told there’s a pitcher of some in the fridge.

Remember the good old days when we used to just, you know, talk to people? When you bought things that lasted and didn’t become obsolete within a year? When you simply looked out the car window for street signs and addresses to find where you were going? When a typo wasn’t changed to some completely unrelated word? When things didn’t come to a complete standstill just because the internet went down? Yeah, I can barely remember it either.

Don’t get me wrong, I think technological advances are, for the most part, amazing and do incredible things. It’s just every once in a while I’d like to take a breather, not buy next year’s Madden with improved graphics, actually roll down my window, turn the radio dial up, give my index finger a break from clicking and swiping, let my phone battery die, and not check my email for days. I believe they call that going off the grid. I call it a change for the better.

— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist

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