Five Antisocial Gadgets That Should be Banned | Gadget Lab from Wired.com
Technology moves fast, and manners aren’t keeping up. In older times, real innovations were so few and far-between that social conventions had time to grow up around them. Did you know, for example, that there was a recommended greeting for use with the new-fangled telephone? People didn’t know what to say when they picked up the speaking-tube, so they were given a suggestion: “Ahoy!” I still do this today — it confuses the heck out of the telemarketers.
But now that tech is everywhere and ever evolving, people don’t know how to conduct themselves in public. The gizmos themselves are innocent, but the users are not. Here we list five gadgets that should be banned until people learn to use them.
A speakerphone’s advantages are far outweighed by the fact that it can be used to play music. Specifically (and you might detect the voice of experience here), really bad rap music on the train to the beach. Back in the eighties, there was a penalty involved in portable tunes, and it came in the form of a backbreaking boombox equipped with around fifty D-Cell batteries. Now there is no barrier, and anyone can pollute public spaces with what they obviously believe to be music loved by everyone there.
Worse, the speakers are terrible. Bass becomes buzz, drums become tinny taps and vocals distort. At least the old 1970s boomboxes packed a decent punch.
If the cyborg-like plug in your ear weren’t bad enough, you look like a crazy-person whenever you use it, muttering to yourself as you walk down the street. Throw it away, now.
Closely related to the Speakerphone (and not strictly a gadget), the ringtone is the bane of modern existence, and reached a nadir with the release of the Crazy Frog, a ringtone based on a piece of music designed to piss people off (and actually called “Annoying Thing”).
Custom ringtones can be useful — I have the Gadget Lab office number set to play a silent tone so I am never disturbed by my tyrannical editors, for example. But they are invariably used as a way to make the owner of the phone somehow look smart or funny. This, as we know, never works. Even if you have downloaded the latest chart-topper to show your excellent tastes off to the world, we all know that you just spent more than the cost of the track itself on a tinny, truncated MP3.
A strange one, you might think, given my love of the e-book. Lightweight, convenient and offering hundreds of titles in your pocket, the e-book is surely a perfect gadget. It can’t even annoy your fellow-travellers on public transport. But it has a secret agenda: to destroy romance itself.
You might remember that I hollowed out a Moleskine notebook to hide my iPod Touch, the theory being that while a handsome young man reading a paperback and sipping a coffee at a pavement café would attract the ladies, a nerd reading an e-book would not.
My theory was proved correct this week. Sipping a glass of wine and looking very intellectual, I finished reading the last page of my book (something by Paul Auster, if you must know). I switched to my iPod Touch (without the Molekine prophylactic). Just then, the pretty girl at the next table turned around and, with a flirtatious smile, asked what I was doing.
“Reading” I said
“Reading?” she asked, tipping her lovely head to a rather coquettish angle.
“Yes,” I replied, “I’m reading a book on my iPod.”
She glanced down at the device in front of me.
“Reading a book on your iPod?”
As I nodded she simply turned away, brow slightly furrowed. I went home alone.
This one comes from my brother, a motorbike rider who commutes daily. His problem: Morons. He thinks that most of the time people know where they are going and don’t actually need a satnav unit. Further, he argues, owners use them when they don’t need to, to justify the purchase.
I don’t necessarily agree, but I can’t argue with the theory in this one case: My brother saw a colleague pull up to work – a place he has driven to daily for years – with his GPS unit switched on. When challenged, he said it was for traffic avoidance. The problem? On his trip to work, there is only one route he can take, whatever the traffic conditions.