I have a smartphone which I use to make and receive calls. That’s it. Every month I call the phone company and ask for Deshawnda, a representative I’ve gotten to know over the past 12 months. “Why are you charging me $40 a month for Internet access when I only use my phone to make phone calls?” I ask.
Deshawnda sighs and very patiently tells me that accessing the Internet is the most important function of the smartphone, to which I repeat my former request, “Then I don’t want a smartphone. Send me one of those old-fashioned phones that just make and receive calls. And take that $40 off of my phone bill.”
Deshawnda then tells me that I qualify to receive a brand new – and FREE – MaxGigo HyperMegaPixel 2800XL, which it turns out, will not only make and receive calls, but launch a rocket from NASA and emit an aroma every night at 5:30 p.m. that makes the house smell as though I’m cooking a porterhouse with onions and wild mushrooms. It sounds wonderful. I order it.
I call the phone company a month later when I get a bill for $300 plus an extra $50 for the rocket launching module and $100 for the add-on fake dinner aroma. A guy named Craig talks through his nose and tells me Deshawnda is vacationing in the Greek Islands on an all-expense paid trip after being named salesperson of the year.
I argue with Craig: “Why does it cost less to send a rocket into outer space than to fill my house with the smell of porterhouse and mashed potatoes?” I ask irritably.
Because, he explains, it’s much easier to launch a space shuttle than it is to simulate a home-cooked meal.
It’s not just phones that make me crazy.
We have a TV/sound system/DVD/VCR player/receiver/satellite/TV receiver/HD receptor with five remotes. When I want to watch The Real (i.e.: Fake) Housewives of Orange County, I ignore everything, including all the remotes, and flip the “on” button on the television, causing the system to short out and lose all of the preset programming. Then I begin switching frantically to channels that are nothing but snow and fuzz, further messing up the preset system. This causes my family great pain, although not as much as thinking dinner is cooking in the oven, when in fact, it is not.
I also have an account on Facebook that I don’t do a lot with other than post headlines and links to news stories. I’ve never once looked to see who’s posting dirty pictures and who’s not because, well first of all, I don’t know how, and second of all, I really don’t care. And third, what if it’s my kids and I’m forced to do something about it?
Early into my foray into social media, I got caught up in a virtual (i.e.: not real) farming game called FarmVille. This is where I owned a farm and buy animals and buildings and plant virtual crops and reap virtual profits. But because of my real – not virtual – attention deficit disorder — and I need to tell you that I haven’t actually been officially diagnosed with this — but have self-diagnosed through Web MD, because I had a friend who diagnosed her illness on the Internet and treated herself and she ended up dying, but it’s still a great thing to be able to save money on doctors and medical bills … Hey, is that something shiny? … after my longtime doctor left his practice, I visited a clinic in Fort Wayne, where I saw CindyLou Stephens who was in my graduating high school class. She is a nurse and has four kids, and left her worthless husband ten years ago after he ran off with …
… where was I? Oh, yes … I would forget about the FarmVille farm for weeks until my virtual neighbors sent me real emails. “Viv: All crops are dead. Barn is decaying. Animals are belly-up. Have reported you to Virtual PETA Authority.”
So now, not only am I a failure in real life, but I’m a virtual failure, as well.
And then there’s Twitter. Whatever the hell that is.
I recently registered for Twitter, mainly because I wanted all the hip, progressive people to notice that I was registered. One signs up for Twitter and then tweets. Easy enough. Only I have no idea how to tweet, for which unfortunately, I can never remember the proper name, and often refer to as “Twit” or … well, worse.
But I keep getting these emails that tell me, “Amanda Cyeenski is now following you on Twitter,” and “Abjab Hsad Hackjawed is now following you on Twitter.”
I currently have 89 people following me on Twitter.
Holy moly. Following me to where?!
In high school I was voted “Most Likely to Remain Stagnant.”
I wanted to appeal to Amanda Cyeenski and Abjab Hsad Hackjawed, “Who are you and why are you following me?!” but I did not know how.
I found myself looking over my shoulder and surveying the crowd when going out for coffee at the local restaurant. Was that Abjab at the counter in bib overalls and a ragged Purdue hat casually discussing crop yields with a local businessman? Was the waitress – who seemed much too interested in how I wanted my eggs cooked – Amanda Ceensi?
What do they want? WHY ARE THEY FOLLOWING ME?
But the scariest one I received said, “The Journal Gazette newspaper is now following you on Twitter.” I got notice of this on my phone right after I had accidentally launched a space shuttle while attempting to call my mom.
Several days later I received a notice from the Journal Gazette, informing me that they had quit following me on Twitter after discovering that I was going absolutely nowhere.
Any of my neighbors in FarmVille could have told them that.