West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Simply Stupid

Reminiscing, Technology, Things that bug me

I have, at best, a tumultuous relationship with technology. That could be attributed to the fact that I remember the days B.I. (before the internet.) In the eyes of many, that makes me old. I, however, prefer to think that I have a balanced perspective. I have the ability to look at the old and the new and decide what’s better.

It seems to me that the purpose of technology should be to make things simpler. My generation can attest to the fact that this is most definitely not true and I have evidence to prove it.

Like many Tosans, we have a garage with electric door openers. Since there are two separate doors, there are two separate openers. Recently, one of the openers malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. What you see in the picture below is the old opener wall switch (on the left) and the new one (on the right):

For the decade that we have lived in our house, we’ve gone in and out of our garage and hit the garage door opener without much thought. It was ONE button. Now, as you can see, one of the doors has no less than FOUR buttons. Every time I walk into the garage and go to hit the new switch, I have to stare at this for a couple of minutes. Sure, it makes sense when you look at it, but so did the single button. How is this better? I’m certainly grateful that no children or small animals will be endangered by the new opener, and it is nice and quiet, but it’s definitely no simpler than the old single button.

Another great example of advanced technology that makes things more complicated is cell phones. Did you ever get a new cell phone and then try to make that first phone call? It’s kind of maddening isn’t it? And, actually, the same goes for new home phones as well. As much as our kids laugh at the idea of a rotary phone with a big old handset, it was very clear how to dial and talk. Not so much anymore.

Of course, I’m sounding more and more like a dinosaur as I whine about new advances. I’m barely keeping up with the Gateses and the Jobses of the world. I’m on Facebook and Twitter and iTunes but I’m not entirely sure that the next big thing won’t be one click too many. All of this makes me wonder: Why evolve if not to make life simpler?

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