Posts Tagged ‘technology


I’m so ashamed of the BlackBerry I don’t own

I love reading articles about tech gear I don’t have and probably won’t be in the market for any time soon.

There’s this howler right now in the New York Times / International Herald Tribune about how BlackBerry owners are so embarrassed and ashamed of their devices because of the many things they can’t do in comparison to an iPhone or other Android device.

BlackBerry outcasts say that they increasingly endure shame and public humiliation as they watch their counterparts use social networking apps that are not available to them, take higher-resolution photos, and effortlessly navigate streets – and the Internet – with better GPS and faster browsing.

In the next sentence we discover how these luckless BlackBerry-owning wretches are forced to do things that most everyone did about five years ago:

This means that they have to request assistance to get directions, book travel, make restaurant reservations or look up sports scores.

God, what a horrible life they must lead.

Imagine having to contact another human being to find out a piece of information, even if it is only to ask another human being with a better device to gather said information from the Internet.

And what about that shame?  Unless you’re psychopathic, shame happens to us all.  We feel shame and even public humiliation when we realise that everyone knows we’ve done something most consider to be wrong.   So should I feel ashamed because I freely admit to my readers that I do not own a BlackBerry, or an iPhone, or an Androgizmoid?  That all I need is a Nokia cellphone and that no, I don’t have an app for whatever it is you’re looking for?  Is it humiliating to do as I’ve always done and look up the sports scores in a newspaper?

And what about holders of older iPhones?  Will they start having to hide them under a book or buy camouflage because their version doesn’t have the fastest connection technology?  Where is this obsession with tech taking us when our measure of our place in society is how many bazillagigabytes of information we can stream while eating ice cream and crossing the street?

I don’t know, maybe living in Germany for 15 years has atrophied my sense of irony, but the tone of the article was pretty straight-forward.  And its message is simple, updated for today: keep up with the Joneses, or feel the shame.  It’s been the same since people first started to wear clothing and seek warm shelter.

I do know that smartphones are capable of transforming the way we live our lives, and maybe mine would change for the better if I got one. The fact that most everyone I know has or wants one makes me wonder how it is I keep missing the point.   I’m tempted sometimes, but for now – just for now – no thanks.  I want to hold on to a bit of my old ways a little longer.  Maybe like the vinyl I listened to while writing this, cellphones will one day come back into fashion and I won’t have to feels like such a schmuck all the time.


What if you’re white, and don’t like stuff white people like?

I’m a white guy. A real white guy. I am so damn white, I need factor 35 sun cream to go skiing or sunbathing. I am so damn white, there is a genetic skin disease in my family going back an untold number of generations called Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare affliction which renders the skin as fragile as a butterfly’s. Though the disease doesn’t discriminate for race or sex, it first showed up in my family in the area of the northern British Isles where my ancestors lived, and where asses don’t get whiter.

My two white brothers have it, my white father did, so did his white father, and his white father, his white mother… and that’s about as far back as we’ve been able to trace.

Born in Canada, so already a member of the lucky sperm club, I can count myself one of the luckiest damn white guys on the planet, because I don’t have it.

Still, I’m stuck with being white, and can’t do anything about that. I was born this way. This is who I am.

Apparently, some Americans have been carefully observing me and my fellow white people, and decided it’s time to let everybody know in a blog what white people like. Called Stuff White People Like, it has shot like a rocket to the second-most popular blog on in only its first five weeks of life, pulling in a total of more than six million hits as well as hundreds of comments for each post. The “About” page alone has nearly 2,200 comments last time I looked.

I read through it and shrug.

Musical comedy? I prefer stand-up.

Kitchen gadgets? Please.

Multilingual children? There are hundreds of millions of white people here in Europe, where the best jobs are hard to find without foreign language skills.

Threatening to move to Canada? I had a howl at that one, because at the end it says – possibly after someone pointed out that there are white people in Canada who read the blog – that white Canadians threaten to move to Europe.

Naw, we just look south and shake our heads at the latest example of how little regard or even awareness many Americans have for what goes on beyond their own borders. Having successfully thrown their cultural weight around the planet for more than a century, they automatically assume that what goes for white Americans goes for white people everywhere.

There are dozens more examples of Stuff White People are Supposed to Like. White Americans, maybe. Yuppie Americans for sure. Yuppie American dinks (dual income, no kids) absolutely. It stops there, though.

National Lampoon in its 1970s glory days once ran a Race Issue which, depending on how you took it, either tried its best to insult every race on the planet with equal measure, or satirise racism as a useless exercise because we all have traits which define us as individuals and, like it or not, as a group.

One look through the comments and you’ll see that readers of this new blog don’t know what to make of it, either.

Me? I prefer Weird Al. At least he’s funny.

© 2008 lettershometoyou

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Facebook lifehack: how to get back in touch

In the few weeks I’ve been on Facebook I have gone from grudgingly giving in to family members who’d been bugging me to sign up, to enthusiastically searching for nearly everyone who’s ever been part of my life at some point. Former classmates, distant cousins, ex-girlfriends – I’ve found many, and already contacted a few.

But I had a bit of trouble writing the first contact messages. I quickly realised that just because I had a hard time thinking of anything witty or meaningful to say after two decades or more without contact didn’t mean I could just give in, poke everybody, sit back and hope for the best. You want the recipients to open the message and feel they’ve been graced with something special.

So if there is already a heap of advice out there on everything from tying your fucking shoelaces to planning your career, I figure it’s time to post a little help on how to get in touch again.

Delete where appropriate.

The school buddy

Hey, I saw you on Facebook! / How’s it going? / Don’t you wish you had set your privacy a lot higher?

My how / time flies. / it seems only yesterday we were shoplifting at Safeway to survive. / you’ve lost a lot of hair.

It seems so long since / graduation. / that time out behind the shed after football practice. / your unfortunate lobotomy.

Remember how we hated each other’s guts after only two/ four/ six weeks as roommates?

Did you ever fulfill those dreams of / stardom? / making a lot of money? / curing your chronic halitosis?

My life has always been / one success after the other. / probably no less miserable than yours. / one step away from the gutter.

Tell me how / your life has gone. / you’ve managed to survive in the real world despite such a low IQ.

Would you like to / be my friend on Facebook? / block me? / report me to the authorities?

The former colleague

Hi! I saw you on Facebook? How’s it going?

Are you / still with Rapkapple, Birthwaite, Aftermath, Plumsteel, Spoondiddler & Prattz? / still an ass-kisser? / getting out of jail soon?

Remember how we / used to call in sick all the time and go skiing? / stabbed Taylor in the back? / amassed that fortune siphoning off client funds?

Damn, those were the /days, my friend. / happiest times of my life. /most annoying weasels I’ve ever had the misfortune of being professionally associated with.

I’ve still / got a great tan. / not spent half of it. / got another five years before I come up for parole.

The ex-girlfriend

Hi! I / saw you / stumbled upon your picture completely by accident / am stalking you / on Facebook!

How long has it been since we / were going out? /split up? / auctioned off that toddler on eBay?

You still / look good. / make my heart flutter. / have that funny wart thing on your nose. / make me want to go back on Prozac.

Since we split up, my life has been / a chaotic series of lurches from one crisis to another. / not worth living. / a happy romp through daisies.

Are you still /plagued with body odour?/ dead in bed? / going out with that loser you dumped me for?

I am / friends with Bill Clinton. / about to make my second billion. / going to move three blocks away from you under an assumed name and there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

Don’t you wish we were / still together? / still together? / still together?

I’ve taken the liberty of / leaving my contact details for you. / sending your contact details to every spammer and Nigerian scam artist I’ve been able to find on Google. / telling the police where you hid all those bodies.

I Googled your name when I was bored one day. Are you aware that / your name is associated with a severe personality disorder? / your boyfriend’s wanted by Interpol? / your image is featured at several porn sites?

The distant relative

Hi! Isn’t Facebook / great? / fantastic? / an enormous waste of time?

Remember that time when we were kids at Auntie Jenny’s place and you / fell off the swings, beat the crap out of me and then drowned my kitten? / ate a bowl of lima beans, turned in my direction and threw up in my lap? /wrote FUCK in big black crayon on the bathroom wall, and when my Dad found it, you pointed at me and said I did it?

Well that was a long time ago. I / forgive you. / still only harbour a bit of a grudge. / won’t tell anyone how you really came to lose your left eye.

Will you be my friend on Facebook? Please? I only have / five, each one an alternate personality. / 27, but I had to pay 50 bucks to each of them. / a few months left to live now that the tests are in, and I’d like to get into at least double-digits.

See you on / Facebook! / Arsebook! / Crackbook!

© 2007 lettershometoyou
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The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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