Thomas Sowell is annoyed with technological devices for their lack of an on/off button:
My cell phone is a classic example. It does not have a single word blemishing its gleaming surface, except for the name of the manufacturer and the name of the phone company. There is ample room for words like “on” or “off” but nothing so pedestrian is allowed to upset the design.
For people who spend hours every day talking on their cell phone, no doubt it is easy enough to remember how to turn it on and off. But, those of us who have a life to live, and work to do, cannot spend our time yakking it up with all and sundry. We may keep a cell phone on hand just for emergencies — and months can go by without using it, or a year or more in my case.
But when there is an emergency, that is no time to have to dig into an instruction booklet, in order to do something as simple as making a phone call. Nor are these instruction booklets always models of clarity. Too often they reflect the same mindset as the devices they describe. Plain and simple words are avoided whenever there is some fancy, murky or esoteric word that can be used instead.
Sowell can blame this on the late Steve Jobs. At the time of his death, it was revealed that Jobs deliberately avoided placing an on/off switch on Apple computers and other devices because he wanted there to be an afterlife. One could call this hubris on the part of Jobs. But, on the other hand, the spiritual and the practical don’t necessarily occupy the same realm.
Let’s suppose that Apple and other companies placed on/off indicators on their devices. By Sowell’s own admission, he uses these devices very infrequently. It’s kind of difficult to use something if you don’t actually use it on a regular basis. Now Sowell is 85 and is part of a generation that generally eschews this kind of technology. Yet go to your average law office and you will find attorneys in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s “who have a life to live, and work to do” and could not survive without their smartphones, laptops or tablets.
My Dad is retired and will turn 75 later this year, but in many respects he is light years ahead of me where it concerns using cutting edge technology. He has been an Apple fan for more than three decades and loves the fact there is no on/off button. Some people are Macs and some people are PCs.
It is, of course, never easy to adapt. Things are out of style before you knew they were ever cutting edge. But you have to make the effort. If worse comes to worse, Thomas Sowell can always consult your average 7-year old or perhaps an atypical 75-year old.
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