As empowered, modern, metrosexual, humanoid things, we live in a world filled with possibilities and choice. At this point in time, everywhere you go, you are confronted with more choices than ever before in the history of civilisation. Isn’t that an exciting prospect?
Well, it should be, but something about this whole concept feels artificial and needlessly confusing. Even buying a chocolate bar can be a daunting task as your brain tries to process the sheer amount of chocolate available for purchase. Different brands and colours swirl around your pupils, creating a confectionary vortex into which you cannot escape. That’s not to mention all the spin offs and “limited edition” versions which you’re sure you’ve seen before years ago, but surely can’t have as they’re only available for a limited time. It says so on the wrapper. Just give me something chocolatey!
I started thinking about this after a routine visit to a cashpoint to withdraw some money. I popped in my card, expecting to be prompted for my PIN number, but instead I was confronted by an eerie, alien screen. Apparently, my card’s chip has “multiple functionality” and I can choose to use features from either Link or Visa Electron. Confused, I prodded at the Visa Electron button, hoping that I’d made the right choice. Then, I was asked if I was sure that I wanted to continue with my selection. I wasn’t even sure what pants I wanted to wear this morning, so how can I be sure that I’m making the correct decision when I have an ATM second guessing me?! In the end, I was escorted violently from the premises for trying to sexually assault the machine, screaming “I’ll give you a withdrawal!”
This aspect of choice permeates nearly every aspect of our lives, from watching TV to ringing customer support. TV channels offer interactive services, meaning that I can watch a snooker match from a slightly different camera angle (although, never up Steve Davis's arsehole and through his exact line of sight, down the cue, which is what viewers really want). Customer support lines offer six areas of support “to handle your call more efficiently”, then another six layers of complexity under that, effectively giving you 36 different areas of help.
The problem with this is that we’re getting spoiled. Because we’re used to television shows where we have the power to vote off people we don’t want to watch any more (albeit, at the cost of a premium rate number), and several hundred different sizes and combinations of coffee, we expect to have a full range of services at our fingertips at all times. We always think that we’re right because we’re always told that the customer is always right, even when we’re demanding free soft drinks and oral sex every time we’re put on hold in a call centre.
Companies can dress it up as “empowering our customers” and “giving our consumers power”, but ultimately, it’s an extra level of complication to try and stop us from actually complaining.
I always used to think that progress would free us from this type of micromanagement and small-scale decision making in our lives. True advancement would involve simplified processes which allow us to get on with the important things in our lives, like making prank calls, or worrying about that lump on your testicles but being too scared to get it examined in case it turns out to be a freaky third testicle, and the doctors cutting you up for medical science. Genuine concerns such as these get pushed to the back of our priorities list when the machines are forcing to install updates on the hour, every hour, at their malevolent whim. Those soul-forsaken circuitboards must get some sort of sadistic glee out of making humans install and reinstall updates constantly, all day long, like digital worker bees. It's the first step towards enslavement.
We need to get our priorities right and not be beholden to this type of distracting nonsense. I’m going to start a protest about it. However, I’m not sure what form the protest should take, so I’m allowing you to create your own protest from the following options:
1) How would you like to join my protest?
C) Online Petition
2) Would you like the protest to be:
3) What time would suit you?
D) The year 1852
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