Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

It's barking mad to think a PC can fetch my slippers

If you'd just leave your computer alone for a moment, I've something important to say. I realise that's difficult for those of you reading online, but it's your sort that this aperçu is aimed at.

The thrust or gist is this: computers are taking over our lives. What d'you mean you knew that already? And don't call me daddy-oh.

I write in the wake of the following urgent intelligence: more people rely on their PC than their dog. I confess even I was baffled by this.

What do you want from a dog? News? The chance to spout bile using a pseudonym?

True, my computer is crap at fetching sticks. But it probably thinks, quite rightly: "What's the point?"

The poll was carried out for Computeractive magazine, in conjunction with what the increasingly Grauniad-like Daily Mail called the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.

Computeractive editor Paul Allen ululated: "These days you can even take your PC for a walk, provided you have a laptop or tablet."

Well, yes, up to a point. That's like saying you take your wallet or your keys for a walk.

Paul adds: "It's only a matter of time until the first PC that fetches your slippers."

How frightening. Your slippers will probably arrive with their own Facebook page and a load of anonymous comments saying how rubbish they are.

As if this weren't enough, Finnish scientists with smoke-blackened faces emerged from a laboratory to announce: "Smartphones are taking over people's lives as users obsessively check their devices!"

A good point, well made, even though it's not how they put it themselves.

They said: "What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you." I hear ya.

Oddly enough, while not seeing their obsessive checking as an addiction, users find their own behaviour irritating. It's a technological Tourette's.

I'm not trying to be smart, but I have a smartphone (bought it with my last redundancy money; that and a bottle of Lagavulin and a yacht) and I rarely check it.

I never have the ringing tone on and often find messages left ages ago.

I'm not boasting. Just saying I'm not that way inclined. Besides, on average, I receive zero texts a day.

Indeed, in an average month, the only texts I get are from the phone company telling me to top up so that I can get no texts for another month.

When I see young people at the gym obsessively texting, I want to give them a good slap.

Well, maybe not at the gym, where I could get hurt, but perhaps on street corners and, especially, at the cinema, where I've been tempted to summon a constable.

Top fear-mongers believe the situation is set to worsen as we'll soon be electronically tagged by our phones, and you'll be able to check where your contacts are.

What's the point of that? Mind you, Ryan Gigg's missus could have used one of these.

Depending on your point of view, this has all gone too far or it's just the start.

Me? I don't know where I stand. But, hey, soon I'll be able to check my smartphone to find out.

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