Digital devices make life easier, but they have taken us hostage. Phones, tablets and laptops have been artfully designed and improved since those early days of green screens and dial-up tones, and that’s wonderful — until you realise that huge parts of your life now depend on them.
For calls and shopping, bookings and banter, loving messages and comforting music, we have come to rely on shimmering screens. The world has been redesigned in the past ten years or so to make us dependent on our tech and, infuriatingly, it puts us in thrall to its constant need to upgrade itself and enforce new habits.
Worst of all is the tyranny of ‘updates’. There you are, bustling through your day, wanting to check something before you go out, and your machine smugly says it’s too busy ‘installing’ some improvements you didn’t ask for.
Libby Purves argues there isn’t a need for constant infuriating updates as digital kit is fine as it is but companies are toying with us (file image)
When it finishes, it may have rearranged your desktop or blocked it with an incomprehensible demand to do something called Adobe Acrobat.
You go out and try to park your car at the train station, for which payment can only be taken through the app PayByPhone. So you click on that, but as it’s been three weeks since you last tried, it insists on spending several minutes working on itself.
At the other end, your taxi app may also be engaged in self-improvement, so that’s another wait. And so on until bedtime, when you pick up your Kindle for a soothing read and it has decided to ‘improve your reading experience’. That totally changes its look, and now you can’t find how to adjust the brightness.
Digital kings, just stop! This kit is fine as it is. You taught us to love it and need it, and now you’re just toying with us!