Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of my second hour with customer support and I’m rattling off my account number for the 40th time, I’ll think about the appropriate penalty for the person who set up the system in the first place.
I’ve often said that the guy who invented speed bumps should be strapped to the bottom of a sports car chassis and driven over a few of those monsters at high speed. For the people who design websites and medical forms, we need to come up with something decidedly more severe.
We’ve all been through the drill. We try to open an account and the system rejects our password because it doesn’t have an ampersand, or because it does, or it has no caps or too many caps or not enough irony. Or we call customer support and we have to enter our account number at least twice before a human being picks up the phone…to ask for our account number.
As the customer service rep reads her required script, I try to shorten the process by answering all the questions I know she’s going to ask, but she still goes through the recitation of data points—or risk being fired. I’ll tell her I know she didn’t make up the rules, or the script, but I really, seriously, desperately want to get my hands on the person who is responsible for the extra 35 minutes I’ll spend on this nonsense.
It’s the same thing when we’re offline in the doctor’s office, where they hand you four pages of questions to answer while waiting for your appointment. Yes...
...all the information you’re about to give them is the same thing they asked when you contacted them the first time and...
...all of it is already in the portal they made you sign up for when made the appointment, and...
...it’s absolutely certain the doctor will not look at the form after you fill it out,...
...but that’s no reason to let it slide.
There’s no way to fix it, as we know, because the nameless and faceless drones who put the hamster wheels in motion left the company a long time ago. Since then, there’s no one on the payroll with a career interest in making their processes more user friendly, or efficient, or sensible.
Strapping them to the bottom of a sports car and driving over a speed bump is too good for them, but they aren’t the only ones who come up with rules that make no sense. For instance, who was it that decided:
The world is filled with arbitrary rules that we follow as if they flowed logically from a font of wisdom, including rules we have to comply with in order to get support from the doctors and businesses we frequent. If you know who came up with any of these gems, let me know how to find them. I know a guy with a sports car.
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The pastor actually seemed irritated that there were no reporters in the church.
“You don’t see The Media covering this,” he said as about a dozen congregants literally took the plunge in their baptisms.
And all I could think was, “Even here?”
No matter where I am or what the situation is, somebody is going to take a gratuitous swipe at The Media. We haven’t reached the point at which everyone is required to wear a mask, but it seems we all have a media-slap quota that we must meet.
Even people in The Media love to pile on, dismissing viewpoints they don’t like as “something The Media wants you to believe.” On the left, they deride the right-wing outlets and websites. On the right, they attack everyone else as “leftist,” “mainstream” or “lamestream.” And that’s especially weird, because it’s pretty clear there is no single “media” with a single slant or a singular focus. “Media” is a plural word for a reason. In this country, we have left wing and right wing, mainstream and niche, online, broadcast, corporate, social…even retired guys who take up blogging for fun.
Within that confused maelstrom of views, The Media is whatever message I don’t like. If I think the message is wrong or the emphasis is misdirected or the timing is bad or my side isn’t supported unconditionally, I’ll blame The Media. If I’m not getting the attention I want, The Media are biased against me. If I’m getting attention that I don’t want, The Media are biased against me. If I’m getting what I want, The Media finally got it right.
Meanwhile, as much as we spit on the Fourth Estate, we rely on The Media for about 90% of what we think we know about this world. I’ve never been to India, never attended a session of Parliament, never rode a rocket…but I know at least something about them from reading the daily news. I’ve never attended a BLM march or a Trump rally, never subscribed to a QAnon site or discussed motivations with anarchists. Over the past several years, it’s become more and more clear to all of us that we live in relative bubbles, restricted to a small social and familial sphere, relying on other sources to flesh out our sense of the world.
We rely on The Media.
I don’t think there’s any other institution that we rely on so intimately and loathe so flippantly as The Media. It might be the one thing that unites people of all faiths, political views, tribes, cities, states and pronouns. We all hate The Media.
Actually, this might be a good thing. Buried somewhere in our universal scorn for the people we depend on so much, hidden in the constant sniping at the people who hired fact checkers before anyone had heard of fact checkers, just maybe there is the kernel of cohesion. Perhaps our disdain for The Media can form the spark of unity this country needs so desperately.
It’s not ideal, I know. It’s not like we can agree that there’s a Covid pandemic or that Joe Biden is the president or that internet dress is gold, not black, but at least we can agree on one thing: We all hate The Media. And if we can all share in the glow of our hatred for just a few moments, maybe we can begin the healing our nation craves so deeply.
It isn’t much, but it’s a start. Join me in shouting, “I hate The Media,” and we can begin the long journey home.
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Why I want to be like Theda Bara, plus my brush with the most dangerous pop-up on the internet, among the items rattling around in my dormant mind these days…
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I sure hope nobody finds out that the password for this blog is "PaSsWoRd!" Otherwise, they might sign on as me and post something that you find offensive, demeaning, or borderline mansplaining. So, if you see anything here that gives offense, I was hacked.
The same thing applies to written documents. Back in third grade, Eddie Greenboogers learned how to copy my handwriting and continually wrote all kinds of terrible notes that seemed to have my signature, and he has continued doing that until, um, well, he’s still doing it today. So if you see any paper copies of any documents that suggest I wrote something bad, it was absolutely Eddie Greenboogers, not I.
Am I safe now? Probably not. In fact, nobody is safe today, because we live in a gotcha world, where a video of your least articulate moment will be shared by all your “friends” and your kindergarten coloring book will become Exhibit A in your public shaming. Or your murder trial, if you end up raising tigers for a living.
Life was so simple when our teachers threatened to make a note of our misdeeds in the “permanent record” that would follow us throughout our lives. As with (spoiler alert) Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and those X-ray glasses they advertised in the back of comic books, our “permanent record” turned out to be more legend than reality, and we all breathed easier as a result.
Of course, that was pre-internet and before the time that anyone, anywhere, could dredge up a bloody scent for the posterazzi. Clearly, it’s all gotten out of hand and we need some new rules to make sense of it all.
First, we need a statute of limitations for all the perpetrators of racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-American, anti-religious, nasty, vicious, foul, revolting, offensive, nauseating, sickening vile, ghastly, repugnant, inexcusable statements, posts, pictures, texts, e-mails and emojis.
I’d give anyone a pass for anything they said before the age of 16. Even if it’s really, really awful, I will accept that the offender is still developing mentally, is overwhelmed by hormones and peer pressure, and has time to grow out of their wretchedness.
After 16 though, your driver’s license comes with the burden of accountability. If you’re old enough to take responsibility for a car, you’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions. Yeah, you’re still a kid, partly, but you’ve been online since you were two and you’ve probably been part of the mob more than a few times, so suck it up and be ready to take the heat.
Along the same line of reasoning, it’s time we rejected all claims of “youthful indiscretions,” which is the favored excuse for people in powerful positions who do terrible things or make terrible statements that, without a doubt, they knew were terrible at the time. And, if they didn’t know, they were pretty damned stupid and they really don’t belong in positions of power in the first place.
At the same time, we need some form of parole for people who see the light and change their ways. Maybe we can agree to ignore statements or (most) infractions at least 10 years in the past, if the person has not made similar statements or committed similar infractions since then. With elected officials, C-Suite executives, educators and clergy, I might lengthen that to 15 or 20 years. But if a person goes a decade or more without repeating the sin, it’s likely they don’t represent a current threat.
I’m okay if we never forgive someone for murder, rape or child molesting, though. Some things are just too venal for forgiveness on this Earth. Everything else is on the table, though, because we want people to have an incentive to do better and be better.
We talk a lot about healing our wounds in this society. Maybe we can start the process by committing less bloodletting.
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Dining out is pretty close to normal again, which is a continuing source of joy for a guy who’s energized by a noisy joint and really tired of doing his own dishes. Part Two of our celebration…
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Now that almost all the restrictions have been lifted and outdoor dining is available pretty much everywhere in the country, I’m rediscovering the joys of never, ever, ever cooking my own food. I’m also rediscovering some of the fascinating questions that come with restaurant visits, including…
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.