top of page
Correcting Your Behavior Since 2017

Down with Updates

It never fails. Just as you've mastered the latest version of your now-necessary technology, the company that makes it triumphantly announces an updated version—an "improvement." It never is.

There are people who spend their lives in the world of tech: computer programmers, coders, IT folk, hackers. Your Curmudgeon is not one of those people. It's neither my vocation nor my area of aptitude, nor is it what I do for fun. As it happens, I have other obligations—like carefully crafting strongly worded complaint letters, filling out customer service surveys, and shushing people who talk during live theatre. I'm busy. I am also not one who relishes the taxing process of learning new systems. The ones I have work fine. I like my supposedly outdated systems; they're comfortable and familiar, and they do what they're supposed to do. I don't need a new version of my phone, which already takes photos, plays music, and tells me the time, the weather, the train schedule, what's on sale, what's "trending," what movie to see, what my friends are doing, my weight, my IQ, my future, the current events in Istanbul, the price of tea in China, and today's secret lucky numbers. What could a new version possibly add, other than a ripping headache? They never tell you that, only that it "fixes bugs from version 3097.16." What bugs? What wasn't working? Did the birdcall replicator need adjusting? Was the metric scale off? Was the nose hair clipper getting dull? Or did some tech nerd at the company just get strangely excited about relocating the brightness control from the Settings menu to the Preferences menu?

It's always something useless like that. Meanwhile, true flaws are never addressed. Let's say, for example, that your phone keeps dialing your Aunt Myrtle, unprompted, at all hours of the night. If you manage to reach someone in tech support, I can tell you what their response will be: "It dials your Aunt Myrtle? That's weird. That shouldn't be happening." Well. That's good to know. I agree that it shouldn't. May one assume that this issue will be fixed with the next update? Not a chance. The new version will still dial Aunt Myrtle. But now, it will also be able to cook a soufflé, make you a master at tiddlywinks, and compose a personal theme song that mirrors your biorhythms. Oh, yes: and the icons now glow in the dark.

My computer also doesn't need to be revamped. The current operating system provides me with the ability to create documents, do research, communicate with people all over the world, and enjoy on-screen entertainment. That's plenty for the Curmudgeon. I have no use for an update. But they find a way to force us, don't they? Wait long enough, and your current operating system will become as irrelevant as an 8-track tape player. Because the programs and applications you depend on will eventually become incompatible with your nice, familiar, reliable set up system. They do it incrementally, the sneaky bastards. First come odd little glitches, then freezes and delays, and then, complete nonfunctionality. And then you have to upgrade, whether you like it or not. That's how they get you.

Is the new version faster? Easier? More logical? It is not. It is, however, wildly inconvenient, as you now have to relearn operations you'd already mastered.

And of course, each new-and-unimproved operating system also requires us to play detective, figuring out where they've put things this time and diligently working our way through endless "settings" screens to deactivate the many so-called services that seek to "personalize your experience" by tracking your every move or offering unwanted extras. No, I don't need my neighbors to know my birthday. I don't need to be notified when the latest version of the Zombie Fighter game is available. No, I don't want my camera accessed by government agencies. And no, I don't want my photos automatically shared on Pinterest.

Do you know what service would be truly useful? Could there be a setting that gets tech people to leave me alone? That's one that would be worth updating for.

bottom of page