Post #1024: I just got my first smart phone, and I’m beginning to understand what’s wrong with America.

Posted on February 22, 2021

Sometimes there is value in being an outsider.

I’ve just gotten my first smart phone.  I guess I’m only a decade and a half late to the party.

But as a result of my tardiness, I am now deeply weirded out by things that I assume all Americans now simply take for granted.

It’s an Android phone.  So I spent the first few hours with it saying no to Google, telling the phone not to bother me, refusing offers, trying to guard my privacy and so on.  Meanwhile fielding the odd spam call.  And then finding out that many features of Android phones just plain don’t work unless you join the Borg, and let the Borg know all.

But I expected that.  And I suppose everybody else just says “yes” to all the setup questions, or has their own way of dealing with Google’s intrusiveness.  Or they don’t care.

But for over-the-top weirdness, my new phone pegs the needle with the “Discover Bar”.  This feature shows up before I even swipe the phone to use it.  Presumably it’s there to give immediate access to things that the average American absolutely needs and cannot do without.  You have to read it before you can even get to your phone.

There’s only space for five icons, pre-loaded on my “Discover Bar”.  And one of those precious five slots is devoted to giving me 24/7/365 access to my horoscope.

Ponder that a second.  I hold in my hand this miracle of modern technology.  Densely-packed circuitry, crystal-clear screen, phone, blue tooth device, GPS, magnetometer.  A scientific wonder giving me access to the wisdom of the world through a hand-held device.  And it’s set up, out of the box, to serve the needs of people who need to check their horoscope so frequently that there’s a dedicated icon for that.

Horoscopes?  Really?  Surely everybody knows that the right way to guide your life in the 21st century is to slaughter a chicken and examine the entrails.  Then burn some incense and read the smoke.

All you readers who think that chicken entrails and incense smoke are silly superstitions, but that, well, you know, sometimes my horoscope just really manages to nail it, somehow, for some unknowable reason, so you really can’t dismiss that out of hand, because sometimes it’s just eerie how on-target that is, it’s like they know me   … You people are part of the problem.

Horoscopes.  My brand-new state-of-the-art smart phone has a dedicated icon for horoscopes.  Up front, before I even swipe the screen to use the phone.

If that’s not an endoscope into the soul of America, I don’t know what is.

And if you found yourself thinking, OK, well, you may not believe in horoscopes, Mr. Science Snob, but I know they work for me, because it’s just uncanny sometimes how the horoscope just speaks to me, on a particular day, so you can’t tell me that’s all just made-up generic nonsense carefully crafted to apply to the widest cross-section of individuals, regardless of circumstances, for commercial gain.  That can’t be right because sometimes it’s just so spot-on.  … Yeah, you people are still part of the problem.

I’m hard pressed to find an analogy.  Providing average Americans with instant access to these high-tech tools is like, I don’t know, outfitting a troupe of chimpanzees with loaded AK-47s.  It’s empowering as all get-out.  Probably highly entertaining, from a certain perspective.  But you’ve got to expect some bad things to happen.

Well, I gotta go.  I have a Zoom call with my personal psychic in a couple of minutes.  Thank goodness for my smart phone.