Phone a friend for facts

By Marla Boone - Contributing Columnist

Years ago there was an enormously annoying show called “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” It was hosted by the enormous annoying Regis Philbin who, small mercies, is not seen on television these days. I don’t know why. Maybe he went to that Big Broadcast Booth in the Sky. Or maybe the rest of the viewing public gradually swung over to my way of thinking and agreed someone this irritating has no business on TV. The show chose contestants based on the bubbly/giddy/giggling scale, which meant the annoying meter was almost always pegged. The contestants had to answer a series of questions. Dire, right? But they had bail-outs if they got stuck on a particularly difficult question such as “What color are your socks?” One of the bail-outs was “Phone a Friend.” There are many assumptions at play here, the foremost among them being the odds that someone so entrenched in giggling would have a friend with any more sense. It all made for very poor drama, with the friends hhmmmm-ing all over the place while Googling to beat the clock. Literally.

Now it’s 2019 and we have done away with such amateurish shows. Now we have intellectual giants like “Love Island” and “The Bachelor.” Honey, there is a reason all those 35-year-old men are single and it’s because they are as annoying as Regis Philbin.

The other things we have in 2019 are computers. Yes it’s true. They are not just a passing fad. It appears they are here to stay. They, too, are as annoying as Regis, but a computer will not keep coming back on syndication. My own computer is awful. It is without doubt the worst computer I have ever owned. I’ll be working away at something and all sorts of little paper symbols show up on the page. My desktop icons come and go like a yo-yo. If I haven’t started it for a day or two it takes a really long time to turn on. Then if I leave it unattended for 30 seconds it turns back off.

Just like all misfortunes, however, my computer being dreadful is relative. As my mother used to say, “I fretted that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no vodka.” Or maybe it was feet. Until I met a man with no feet. Feet and vodka approach each other dangerously closely on the hierarchy of needs. I had the occasion to use a friend’s computer the other day. All I wanted to do was compose a short article. Even the worst of computers can usually handle this. There are four key words in that last sentence: “worst of computers” and “usually.” This computer’s word processing program was something even Johannes Gutenberg would disdain. It would barely keep up with my typing. It would not spell check. It would not capitalize the first word of a sentence, much less the pronoun “I.”

If there are two things I have learned from years of being behind the techno-times it is to right click the mouse for lots of confusing choices and to go to the help menu. Going to the help menu is dicey because sometimes the advice there is beyond my threshold of understanding. But right-clicking the mouse did absolutely nothing so Plan B became Plan A. Here is what happened when I went to the help menu and I swear I am not making this up. Way up at the top of things to try was this advice: “Ask a computer-savvy friend.” Seriously. Ask a computer-savvy friend. Seventy years of manipulating zeros and ones and this is the best they can come up with?

There are two kinds of people in the world … those who don’t understand computers and 12 year olds. These two kinds of people do not speak the same language. They do not indulge in the same pastimes. They do not run in the same circles. (Those of us who can’t figure out a computer run in circles, all right. Usually while we’re on hold with customer service.) It’s exactly like going through puberty again: I am vaguely aware there is someone out there who is different from me but I’m not sure how. These “others” are intriguing but scary and they give me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when I’m around them or have to talk to them. When I was an adolescent these others were called “boys.” Now they’re called tech support.

By Marla Boone

Contributing Columnist

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.