Tech and Tattoos: a generational inquiry

i-xRDcb5d.jpgAnyone with any aptitude for technology has encountered this scenario, right?  The Family Tech Support issue, where you’re stuck between just fixing their problem, whatever it is, and refusing to help at all and just screaming read the words on the screen over and over again until they either help themselves or hang up on you.  And that last panel is always the end result of any of these conversations.

It’ll happen to you, too, they say, or maybe you think it to yourself.  Sooner I’ll be relying on my kids to help me figure out why the clock in my ocular implant is always blinking 12:00 over and over again, or I’ll need my son to point out to me that the reason my touchscreen “doesn’t work” is because I won’t just touch the thing and insist on stabbing at it with the tip of my finger like I’m hitting a key on a manual typewriter.

Lemme change the subject for a second.

I have six tattoos, and I’ve been fighting the urge for a seventh for the last few weeks– in fact, I’ve woken up a few times in the last few weeks convinced that I was going to go get another one that day.  When I got my first one (and this was 20 years ago now) I heard from my parents exactly what every other person my age heard from their parents.

“What are you going to do when you’re 80 and you still have that?”

And here’s the thing (and let me be clear, I’m not talking about my parents specifically here; this is a widespread cultural phenomenon): when people ask you that, they’re suffering from a weird sort of blind spot: they’re thinking of old people now, who are comparatively less likely to have tattoos unless they were in the Navy or something.  When I’m 80– which, good luck, fat boy– I will console myself with the knowledge that probably 70% of the rest of the 80 year olds sharing space with me in the nursing home will also have tattoos.  It will be normal.  Yeah, they’ll all be saggy and blurry and faded.  So the fuck what?  It’s not going to be weird at all.  2/3 of people my age have tattoos and we will still have tattoos when we are old.

Let’s talk video games.  When I was a kid, playing video games was a thing For Kids.  The notion that there would ever be jobs connected to video games was considered ludicrous; video games were a thing that we were all going to Grow Out Of, and they’d stay a Thing for Kids forever.  Why?  Because in the late eighties the Nintendo was a Thing for Kids.

I’m 40 and still playing video games, and I suspect a fair number of the people who were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out with me are too.  And I suspect a lot of those who aren’t are likely out of gaming because of reasons unrelated to maturity.

So, I ask you: how likely is it really that people my age are going to have to be calling our kids to get basic tech shit explained to us in 20 years?  In ten, when my son is 15?  What exactly is going to change about me or the way I look at the world that’s going to cause me to lose the ability– or, more importantly, the desire, because that’s actually the salient difference here– to figure new shit out, other than actual dementia?

Nothing.  It ain’t gonna happen.  Will there be some aspects of technology/Future Life that I’m not going to get?  Sure, but that’s because of youth culture, not because of the tech itself.  I don’t know what the fuck Tumblr is for, and I don’t really get Snapchat, but my confusions are more of the why would you want to do this variety rather than I need this to make my life work, please show me how to use it.  

At 40, I’m about as old as you can be and still claim to be a “digital native,” a phrase more likely to be applied to millennials than people my age.  But I grew up with this shit, and the upbringing my son is getting right now is really not that different from my own childhood.  My first home game system was an Atari.  I had a Commodore 64/128 that I used to dial into local BBS systems over a 300 baud modem.  I spent so much time on BBSes that my parents had to install a second phone line in my bedroom.  I had a cell phone in 1995 or 1996, way before most people had them.  I still tend to be an early adopter in a lot of ways and my affinity for tech stuff is a key part of my personality.

And all of this is just supposed to go away at some point, when I have to start calling my son for tech support?  When, exactly?  When am I going to stop being myself, absent some sort of literal mental deterioration?(*)  It’s not going to happen.  This is just as much of a canard as Old People Don’t Have Tattoos or You’re Going to Grow Out of Gaming.

Or maybe I’m just hugely immature.  I dunno.


Somewhat unrelated contention: I hate the phrase “Generation X” and always have.  Gen Xers are older than me; I’m not one of them.  Millennials are younger than me and I’m not one of them either.  You may refer to my generation as either Generation Star Wars or Generation Nintendo; they both work as far as I’m concerned.

The clearest sign of whether you are in my generation or you are a millennial is this, by the way: if Pokémon was part of your childhood, you are a millennial.

The end.


(*) I am, and I hope this is obvious, not suggesting that people who aren’t good with technology are suffering from some sort of disorder.  But if it were to happen to me, it would probably be a sign that I needed to go see somebody.  That’s all I’m saying.

On holding back

wicther_3_oh_my_glob.jpgIf you’ve been paying attention to my posts lately, or to my Twitter feed, you can probably guess why I didn’t post yesterday, and I suspect you’d be right.  I’ve been trying to write about it and I’m not quite there yet, for a variety of reasons.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please forgive the vaguebooking; all will be made clear soon enough.

Instead, let’s talk about something how I’m either too old, too liberal, or both to play video games any more. Despite shit-talking it when it came outThe Witcher 3 went on a steep-ass discount a few weeks ago– I got the game and both expansion packs for $20, if I remember right– and I was in a period of mourning the lack of video games in my life at the time and so I went ahead and picked it up.  I mean, fuck it, right?  This thing got Game of the Year awards from basically everybody, and I’ve been wrong before, right?

Nah.

The Witcher 3 is exactly the game I thought it was before picking it up; it is not only bad in all the ways I thought it would be bad, it manages to be worse than I thought it was going to be in several critical areas.  I have been gaming for a very long time, so it is likely that I have played a more misogynistic game than this one at some point or another, but I can’t recall what that game might have been.  This is a game that very, very badly wants to be taken seriously, but the overgrown adolescents who coded it think that “serious” means that you get called a cunt everywhere you go, and mistake adult content— there are lots of tits, oh so many tits, and oh so many whores, and so many of the swear words– for adult complexity.

I would probably have really loved this when I was sixteen.  That’s who it’s aimed at, and regardless of the actual chronological ages of the designers, it’s who it was made by.  There are bits of the gameplay I do enjoy, but I commented to my wife this morning that the game’s greatest feat is managing to remain perfectly balanced on the razor’s edge where I’m enjoying it just enough that I’m still playing, but it’s not actually good enough to make me forget the parts that make me want to quit– so I’m still playing, but I hate the game for maybe half the time I’m playing it.

I don’t mind the stabbing.  I don’t even mind the crafting and alchemy, which is normally a part I do my best to ignore in most games.  It’s whenever I’m not in control of the character– ie, cutscenes– that I want to throw my PS4 out the window and cultivate a new hobby.

Blech.

On having owned an Apple Watch for around seventeen hours

xNope.jpg.pagespeed.ic.xecQlXJhisMy watch, just now, upon having determined via vile sorcery that I was awake but not yet out of bed, just vibrated on my wrist to suggest that I get out of bed and move around for one (1) minute.  This is related to my health somehow.  I note, looking at it now, that apparently getting up at 3:30 in the morning to take a piss apparently also counted as exercise.  It was certainly difficult, I’ll agree to that.

And here’s the real bullshit:  I did it.  I have left my warm, cozy bed, a bed that had an attractive woman in it, and now I’m up.  Because my watch decided to tell me to.

I don’t mind when my watch wakes me up with an alarm; that’s part of what it’s for and I set those on purpose.  I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that it basically just told me to get my lazy ass out of bed on a day when I’m not supposed to go to work and don’t have to take the boy to school.  Part of me thinks that’s neat and the rest of me feels like it’s probably the first five minutes of a Black Mirror episode about a dystopia.

In which I make poor decisions but am somewhat successful anyway

5547000_sd.jpg;maxHeight=550;maxWidth=642.jpegSo I caved and got an Apple Watch.  It was an accident, I swear; I went into the store intending to just go on a fact-finding mission, secure in the knowledge that even if I were able to pick out one I liked there was no chance of there being any Series 2 watches in stock, and I wanted to physically put my hands on the watches to see how they felt and how they wore and pick one out based on that.

Well.  Uh.  Oops.  Turns out they had exactly two of the exact one I was thinking I wanted– I’ve ordered a knockoff Milanese loop band (don’t tell anyone) that is literally like a seventh of the price that Apple wants, but the fluoroelastomer will do in a pinch, especially since I like to say “fluoroelastomer.”

Right now I’m a trifle underwhelmed, but the UI is largely responsible for that and it’s gonna take me a bit to learn.  We’ll see how the battery life works out.  I’ll report back in a few days.


I’d heard from my co-workers that the last week of December was going to be insane, but the same people who said that had been telling me that December in general was better than November.  I have sold more furniture in the last two and a half days (I left at 2:30 today, as I usually do on Wednesdays) than I did in the entire rest of the month, and this week is already my second highest week of sales ever, with the weekend left to go, which is utter fucking madness.  And that’s without any really big sales; I’ve just had a bunch in the 2-3000 range.  Yesterday and Monday I was so busy that I could barely keep up with the customers; it was bloody insane.

I can put up with a little bit more of this, though, if the universe would like to keep sending it my way.  It’s a problem I’m willing to put up with.