Sounding Off

David Glasper debates the point.

Published in SOS December 2012
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People + Opinion : Sounding Off

The computer is no more than a passing fad.

David Glasper

I have good news: It is my firm conviction that this tiresome mania for computers must soon come to an end. It is a fad and nothing more, and like all fads, it must eventually pass. Years from now we will look back on this tedious trend as we now do on the facial hair of the 1970s: with amused embarrassment that something so obviously ridiculous can at one time have seemed to us a good idea.

Computers are no more than a trend, and it is the nature of a trend that certain things — flared trousers, filofaxes, racism — seem for a time like a good idea, but also, that common sense must eventually reassert itself and that their popularity will diminish. This doesn't mean that there aren't people still sitting around wearing flared trousers and writing racist memos in their filofaxes, it's just that they are now a largely invisible minority. In short, we can afford to indulge these fleeting fashions as long as sense and good taste prevail in the end. However, if they do not prevail, there is a very real danger of today's undesirable fad becoming a permanent part of tomorrow's status quo. We only need to look at tinned food and the motor car to see that this is true.

Still, I am confident in predicting that in five years time this unpleasant fixation with IT will have passed forever. Computers will once again be a minority interest; a hobby practised exclusively by unhealthy young men in their bedrooms, which is just as it should be. In fact I can say with certainty that by the end of the decade it will no longer be considered socially acceptable to sit in a coffee shop with one's laptop and such people who do will be discomfited by the cool stares of their fellow customers before being discreetly asked to leave by the staff. Those using a smartphone on a train will be treated as though they had tried to molest a child or smoke a cigarette in the vestibule area and will be obliged to retreat shamefaced to the lavatory to practice their odious habit in private. The sad millions who sit in darkened rooms ogling under-dressed women will be forced back in to the open air where they belong: to our public parks and municipal gardens.

Am I being unrealistically optimistic? I think not. I have great faith in the public. They are wiser than we think and will soon notice that they are paying well over the odds to have their identities stolen and their credit cards defrauded. Still less do they wish to be enslaved, exterminated or used as fuel by the race of dangerous robots which is the inevitable consequence of this current obsession with computers. (It is a curious fact that the very people who read books about this sort of thing are the very ones trying to perpetuate it. Is it some sort of gross and frightening new form of masochism?) Be assured that the man in the street is becoming weary with IT.

Computers are also monstrously expensive, and as a very poor person (music technology journalism is a noble profession, but it doesn't pay) I live in fear of the day on which I have to buy a new one. I spent 20 minutes in Tesco last week calculating whether or not I could afford to buy an avocado (I could not), so you can well imagine the horror I feel when I consider having to replace my laptop. I don't think I've even finished paying for it yet. For me and for many others a new computer symbolises not a bright new age of digital freedom, but debt, penury, the bankruptcy courts and the Marshalsea.

Thank God then that in just a few years this unfortunate predicament will no longer exist. Perhaps instead we will be able to afford to take foreign holidays or even feed our children. What a great day that will be. I can picture it now. People will look up, dazed, from their screens and marvel at the beauty that surrounds them; they will remove their headphones and hear sounds that are natural and good; they will go outside and walk about; they will eat better food and drink less Coca Cola. It will be like the imaginary Britain of the 1950s: people will greet one another in the street, the sun will shine and such crime as does exist will be quickly solved by groups of children and their dogs, to the gratitude of jovial policemen. What a relief it is to think that this day will so soon be upon us! .

About The Author

David Glasper didn't fight in two world wars so that you could email topless photos of the Royal family from your mobile.

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