Matlock and Smart Phones

Recollection comes in many forms. Often a barely connected, almost broken path weaving through one’s mind that arrives at point B from a very different, almost unrelated point A.

Whoa, that sounds so deep… but really what we are talking about here are smart phones and Matlock. Yes, that Matlock.

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My first “official job” was at a pretzel stand. No, not that pretzel stand. There my co-workers and I pondered many abysmal and absurd topics. Think Plato with a pretzel. Socrates with a soda. Aristotle with an ICEE. True, ICEE does not start with “A” but it was the closest thing I could think of.

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Much of our idle contemplation was focused around trivia. Music, movies and other non-essential knowledge that is now unneeded thanks to the advent of “smart” devices. Indeed, any jaunt into a coffee shop will tell you that intelligence, perhaps, has in fact been transferred from the user to the device. Idle zombies sit across from one another, slaves to their palm pilot descendants, barely speaking to one another. All the while “Googling” random useless information.

Information we used to call random, useless knowledge.

Knowledge because we knew it, we didn’t look it up… we couldn’t. True there was that “text this number for a small fee and we will look it up and text the answer back to you” service. It was Siri before there was Siri and it cost too much for truly unneeded but g-wizacal information.

“Pour some shook up ramen”

So where does Matlock come in? One night pushing the pretzels a conversation was struck up about Matlock. Being an individual almost always called by his last name we hypothesized that most people wouldn’t know Matlock’s first name… ergo in a few years most people wouldn’t know my first name. To put our theory to the test we did the most professional thing that came to mind… poll the customers.

Of all the things we did at work I’m surprised this one never made it back to the boss. My guess was “Ben” and my coworkers was something random like “Shamus.” We gave each customer the two aforementioned choices and recorded their results. After a six-hour shift Ben was the clear winner… and also the correct answer.

Yet with a smartphone we would have known in as long as it took to enter the information. But what has this done to our society? Instant knowledge is not knowledge at all. What it has become is instant information. One used to pride themselves on the obscure random information and bullshitary they could spin. Now, it doesn’t matter because everything is in the palm of your hand… on your wrist and someday soon in your eyeball. Give it ten years and Apple will introduce the iDiaphragm. For a few euros gas stations all over Europe will be offering the AndroidWear CockRing. Meanwhile Microsoft/Nokia will come in last with the intuitive, but unfortunately defective and buggy, SmartCondom.

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We are now serfs to useless information. How much news is really just news? None, it is all laced with misinformation, random facts that detract from it. In a campaign season it pains me to see the gluttony of the masses digesting the first information out the gate. It doesn’t matter if its right, as long as its first. Why couldn’t those of us who are/were a compendium of useless knowledge and information be left to what we do best.  The news would have stayed the news and the random, neigh almost unimportant information, would have been left out.

Dark times are coming.

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But at least we figured out Matlock’s first name.

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