Charlie Brooker: “I love complex gadgets. What I can’t stand are idiots who don’t know which buttons to press”

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in January 2008

There was a very funny tongue-in-cheek article on technorage by Charlie Brooker in Monday’s Guardian (21/01/08). Here’s an excerpt:

Recently, I was on a plane, sitting beside an 80-year-old woman who couldn’t comprehend how the in-flight entertainment system worked. It had a touch-screen monitor and an additional set of controls in the armrest. Thing is, she didn’t understand the difference between my armrest and hers. There I was, watching a movie in a bid to distract myself from the terror of being 30,000ft up in the sky, when she patted cluelessly at my controls and switched it off. I started it again. Then she hit my fast-forward button.

At this point, I politely explained what was going on and attempted to help her operate her system. She nodded and went “ooh” and “ahh”, but try as I might, she just didn’t get it. Ten minutes later, she stopped my film again, and kept doing so intermittently throughout the flight, sometimes switching my overhead light on for good measure, just to annoy me. Her screen, meanwhile, displayed nothing but the synopsis for an episode of Everybody Hates Chris, which she’d selected by accident but never played. She just sat there, staring at the synopsis for about three hours. I think she thought that was the entertainment.

Shamefully, I found myself starting to genuinely hate her – her doddering incompetence somehow rendered her less than human. Reverse the situation – put me in a 1940s household, say, and ask me to operate a mangle, and the chances are I’d earn her contempt with an equal display of ineptitude. But it isn’t the 1940s. It’s now. So snap out of it. Hit the right buttons or get left behind, you medieval dunce. Do you want the robots to take over? Because that’s what’ll happen if we don’t all keep up. How dare you jeopardise the human race like that. How dare you.

Read full article on Guardian Unlimited

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