Mon 2019-09-23 06:51

In my younger years I remember reading in cyberpunk fiction about the concept of technoshock: a state where technology advances faster than the average person can incorporate it into their lives, causing a sort of psycho-social backlash effect. I figure we're about five minutes from that point because even technologies that are commonplace are apparently beyond the ability of some people to master. Case in point:

For the last six months or so, a woman who likely has a similar name to my own has been using an old Gmail address of mine to do such things as create accounts on clothing retailers' websites and buy plane tickets. Far beyond a one-time mistake, this person has used the wrong email address many, many times, and continues to do so on a regular basis. Setting aside that clearly many websites still don't do email confirmations for new accounts, I guess she should consider herself lucky that I am the recipient of this mistake. My personal code of ethics prevents me from resetting the passwords on her accounts, locking her out, potentially accessing her saved payment and address information, stealing her identity, or in the most recent case - claiming or cancelling her airline boarding pass. The only thing I've done thus far is unsubscribe my own address from those website mailing lists. You'd think by this point she'd start to wonder why she doesn't get the sales announcements, order confirmations, or airline notifications, and realize she had been using the wrong email address all this time. But you'd be wrong.

For another case, there is the gentleman in Charlotte, NC who is apparently confused about his own phone number and for the last few months has been giving out one of my private numbers to apparently every single person he ever meets (based on the volume of calls and texts I get looking for 'Mont'). My cellphone's caller block list now contains nearly a hundred 704 and 980 numbers belonging to people trying insistently and at all hours of the night to reach this fellow. To the point that I now set my phone to Do Not Disturb before going to bed, as it's the only way to prevent waking up to a midnight caller looking for this other person. When I have answered - knowing the call isn't for me - the callers have usually hung up immediately. If the call rolls to voicemail I often receive a succinct, cryptic message like "tryin' to gitcha, holla back quick." I won't conject as to the business 'Mont' engages in, but he certainly keeps odd hours and markets his contact information prolifically. I've considered using a call filter app to forward all calls received on that number from area codes 704 and 980 to 404-893-7000. Seems like there would be potential there for karmic lulz.

But really, phone numbers and email addresses are decades-old technologies, and some people apparently have a problem navigating them successfully. That doesn't bode well for these same folks in the fast-paced, AI-centric, automated, app-driven, technocratic future we're hurtling towards. These people probably already feel like their grasp of the technology upon which they rely is tenious at best. How are they going to feel in another 5-10 years when they (and probably most other people) will no longer have any idea how practically anything works?

Technoshock... incoming.

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