Remember those punching dummies from years ago? They were like Weebles wobbles, where you could smack them as hard as you wanted and they would come popping up for more.
I think we need some kind of equivalent device for modern technology. Sure, cellphones allow us to talk to each other from anywhere in the world, see each other’s faces and share pictures on our way to school, to restaurants or to the most mundane places, but they and their cousins, the computers, can also be like sand in the bottom of our socks.
My daughter sends pictures of herself from the car to her friends. Why? What do they see in these pictures? In many of them, she doesn’t even seem to be centered and her eyes are closed — maybe that’s a generational complaint. Anyway, if these friends were in the car with her, they wouldn’t be looking at each other. Rather, they would be sending pictures of themselves to other people in other cars. Modern technology has encouraged parallel play to such an extent that phone users prefer to interact from afar. When I see my daughter smiling at these ridiculous pictures while mumbling something incoherent to me, I’d like to remove the phone from her hand and toss it out the window.
It would cost way too much money to do that every time she annoyed me and, worse, I might hit someone with her phone.
That’s where the new device comes in. I’d like to have some version of her phone that I could pretend-smash into a thousand pieces.
That frustration doesn’t just involve technology with my children. I have had numerous problems with my computer when I’m on deadline and I can’t afford to stare at a colorful circle that’s freezing my system or a cursor that refuses to respond to my movements across the page.
Sometimes, I feel as if technology is experimenting with me. There’s someone sitting behind a monitor, using my phone or computer’s camera and is waiting for just the moment when I have no extra time and is sending a “kill” signal to my computer.
“Wait, no, no, no!” I shout at the disobedient machine. “Please, please, please, I have to send this now.”
“Heh, heh, heh,” a mischievous elf who decidedly does not work for Santa Claus is thinking as he watches my panicked face.
Instead of pushing the same unresponsive button a thousand times, I’d like an inflatable computer that I can throw across a room, kick as hard as I can or punch without injury. I’d also like to hear the sound of breaking glass as I’m doing it, as if the destructive force I’m applying is somehow damaging the computer as much as it’s upsetting my psyche.
I know breaking real glass and destroying real technology would not only be bad for me and my bank account, but it would also create waste and pollute the environment. I need something that can give me the faux satisfaction of my caveman instinct to strike back at something that’s bothering me.
I can type pretty quickly on my computer, but my thick fingers and the small keyboard on a smartphone, coupled with a spell-checker that hates the last names of my contacts, are a combustible mix. Maybe the next time the computer autocorrects something and then adds an error, I can hit a button that can give me a virtual sledgehammer so that I can virtually shatter my screen into a million pieces. Of course, I’d need the phone to work almost immediately after that because someone, somewhere needs me to send a “LOL” to their mistyped text message.