What’s The Matter With Your

Technology is wonderful, until it isn’t.

I’ve never been an especially technical-minded person, despite my occasional fervent wishes to the contrary; I even took a two-year course at my high school called “technological studies” in the hopes that it would turn the little eager teenage me into a hacker or whatever the 1980s equivalent was, but it basically turned out to be wood shop with added compressed air, somehow.

Perhaps that’s what prevented me from delving deeper into that world at any single point in the three decades that followed. It’s not that I dislike technology — I’m typing this on an iPad, after all, and my work revolves around me being online all the time, so I’m hardly a Luddite — but I’m also not an early adopter anymore; I’ve tried that, only to be exhausted by the inevitable discoveries of bugs and glitches and plain simple ideas that shouldn’t have been brought into the world just yet.

I remember, bizarrely, having a cellphone in the early ‘90s, and just how large and unwieldy it was; I remember it being like a black brick with an antenna you could unscrew, all held in a flimsy black leather and plastic case. More than that, I remember how I felt with it, as if I was ahead of the curve, some kind of smart future me in some way. I wasn’t; I used it to call my family every Sunday instead of wandering to find a payphone to huddle in when it was cold and rainy.

These days, I’m firmly behind the curve. Proudly so, almost, except that I know there’s nothing to be proud of. My phone these days is so old that my carrier couldn’t quite believe there was still one in use, and truth be told, it barely is any more. That’s more than alright with me, though — I’ve firmly entered the “Does it do what I need it to? It does? Great, I don’t care about the other bells and whistles” period of my life, and it’s a very comfortable one.

All of which is a preamble to this: I listen to podcasts on my iPad when I shower. And, yesterday, when I got out the shower and pressed my thumb against the sensor to open the iPad up to switch the podcast off, I got a message saying my thumbprint wasn’t recognized. It said the same again, again, again. Maybe it was the steam in the room, maybe residual dampness of my thumb, but it wouldn’t work.

For others, this would be a moment to consider a neat trick to make it work, or whatever. For me now, it was a sign that technology is only useful until it stops working properly. I keyed in the passcode, resentfully, and grumbled internally about how useless the thumb sensor, and therefore the entire device, actually is.

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