I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the American mania for complicating processes and systems that are just fine as they are is a cultural sickness. It is also obviously unethical under the category of irresponsibility, with a dash of arrogance. It is an American mania.
Herman Kahn used to tell the story about how American jet fighters were equipped with multi-million dollar systems to prevent the aircraft from stalling, triggering alarms and lights and other automated reactions. “The Soviet equivalent was a little dial that had an arrow that went into a red zone,” he said,”and the whole system costs about five bucks. It works just as well as ours.”
Right now, I am struggling to write blog posts because the WordPress “upgrade” has become mandatory, and the thing is infuriatingly complicated and clumsy. Naturally, the company’s “explanation” of how to use it is also incompetent, using terms without defining them, telling me how easy and versatile the new system is while ensuring that it is neither by inflicting instructions that will take me hours and hours to absorb and master, if I ever can.
In one of many recent online chats with WordPress customer service agents, I was asking how I could stop having to repeatedly select the same “block” (this jargon means, I finally figured out, one of I-don’t-know-how-many shiny new packages of composition and format features a section of text could be managed with) I wanted to use, and just have a permanent, familiar formatting system for all posts, all the time—you know, like I used to have before WordPress gave me all these floating options I don’t want or need.
The answer? No! The new way was better, see, because I could shift into a new package mid post! But I don’t want or need to shift anything mid-post, and this “improvement” is costing me time and causing frustration. Frankly, it’s making me want to chuck the whole blog.
Here’s a perfect example of the unethical tech mindset at work. The “classic block,” which is essentially what I have been using for ten years here, has an icon to allow me to hyperlink a word to a web address. It looks like two links in a chain. The default “block,” however, which keeps replacing the “classic block” as I write, appeared to have no linking option among its features. “Oh no, it does!” the helpful tech agent explained, and quickly sent a little animated video with moving red arrows showing me how to hyperlink text in that “block.” The source of my confusion was that that block used a different graphic symbol for a link!
That block uses what looks right and left parentheses symbols with a minus symbol in-between.
“Why the hell did WordPress do that?” I typed back in all caps. Why? What is the point? To be cool? Screw “cool,” I want clear, please. How am I supposed to know that the exact same function in different blocks will have a different symbol? Is taht supposed to be a game? Guess the symbol? How can that gratuitous extra step constitute an improvement? What sadistic tech nerd thought it was and was allowed to install such an obviously useless and confounding feature? There is no possible justification for doing that, and WordPress’s incompetent decision cost me almost an hour of frustration and wasted time that I will want back on my deathbed.
It’s not just WordPress, of course. The same is true of the keyless ignition system in my car: after a full year, I still have to pause and think every time I turn off the vehicle, “push button without my foot on the brake,” unlike the way I start the car, pushing the button WITH my foot on the break. Why is this deemed an improvement over “turn key to the right for “Go” and to the left for “Off”? It isn’t! Some smart aleck jerk just thought it would be cool not to have to turn a key.
The same is true of the nifty high tech elevators that you have to program in the lobby, and then a little light and map on the panel tells you which elevator will take you to your floor. What could have possibly been more simple and efficient than “get into elevator, push button with desired floor on it, ride to desired floor, get off”? What deficiency did the new, high-tech “improvement” address?
None. NONE! The change just amused and empowered arrogant engineers and programmers who changed a perfectly good system that everyone was familiar with and had mastered because they could, without any consideration for the effect on the people who use the system.
It’s just a tiny added factor among the many accumulated one that make people snap, become drunks or sink into depression, but it is an added factor, and and even one more is too much.