My cellphone rang the other day. This is a rare occurrence on its own. Nobody ever calls me because they don’t know who I am, nor do they have my number. But when it does ring, I make a point of not answering. There is a chance that I was unwittingly hypnotised at some point in my past and I live in constant fear that the hypnotist will one day call and say the word that triggers the instruction that lies dormant in what little remains of my mind.
Who knows what terrible things I may have been programmed to do. Enter the Comrades Marathon? Move back in with my parents? Get married a second time? Damn! I must have taken a call.
Oddly enough, the message I got the other day was left by a hypnotist of sorts. She was calling from MTN to let me know that I was due for a phone upgrade. My eyes glassed over and I stiff-legged it to the front door. “Must. Have. New. Phone.” Brenda saw what was happening and brought me down with a well-aimed bottle of chardonnay.
In two years, I have managed to work out a fraction of my phone’s functions. So why would I want to get another, infinitely more complex phone? Because it’s free? Nothing is free, you idiot. It not only locks you into another cycle of unbridled information superhighway robbery, but it exacts a terrible physical and mental toll as you discover that you’ve tossed the manual out with the box and will now have to spend another two years cursing and weeping and stabbing pathetically at another tiny, poorly lit screen.
I can take the upgrade or cancel my contract. Or I can kill myself. If I choose option three, then I may as well do it properly by strapping a kilogram of Semtex to my body and running into the nearest MTN outlet shouting incomprehensible slogans in the hope that one or other of the gods will send me to a place where there are no cellphones, no taxis and nobody in a yellow bib telling me where to park.
But they would stop me before I could detonate. They would tell me to take a seat, not that there are any, and wait for the next available staff member. They would point out that there is a queue of people waiting to blow themselves up and that I should just be patient.
The staff at my local branch appear to be borderline retarded. I may be doing the retarded an enormous disservice, here. For that, I apologise. But I am not exaggerating when I say that their preferred method of communication was last used in the Paleolithic era.
Cellphone shop staff are second only to the police when it comes to not giving a blind rat’s ass about someone who needs help or advice. The police at least make an effort to appear interested, even if they do lapse into a vegetative state halfway through your statement. Most of the time they can be revived with a chicken pie.
Phones aside, I have on more than one occasion come close to slashing my wrists on the cutting edge of technology. A while ago, Ted told me that, as a writer, I needed to “catch up with the zeitgeist”. He was catching up with the Reinheitsgebot at the time, so I assumed it was the Windhoek lager talking.
So now I am on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and something called Google+, mostly by accident and almost entirely against my better judgment. I am a huge fan of social media simply because it is so utterly anti-social. Let us all interact through our portable devices rather than our bodies. It’s far safer and a lot less messy. No more gaping head wounds, no more unwanted pregnancies.
Twitter is limited to 140 characters. That’s all anyone should ever need to get their point across. And when I say anyone, I mean women in general and Brenda in particular. If her brain functioned on the Twitter principle, her vocal chords would automatically cut out once she exceeded 25 words. This would at least give me a chance to say something.
Of course, all this new technology spells disaster for the attention deficit disordered because it … got to go. I feel a tweet coming on.