The other day I spent half an hour working out how to connect my WiFi repeater into the home mesh. Why? I got an email saying that the mesh was not fully operational and had to search out the instructions on the web, after it became apparent that trial-and-error was not going to fix it. During that time I needed the password for the router, the password for the repeater and the password for my account with the provider, some of which were remembered by ‘the system,’.
Then, in a bid to save fuel, we had a British Gas Hive thermostat installed. Wonderful, we can now control the heating from a smartphone, by time, by degree, as many time slots as we want, rather than the ‘on 1, off 1, on 2, off 2’ of out previous central heating controller, which was rather venerable, it seems. Except that it stopped working after less than 24 hours, while I was fitting the thermostat to a stand. There is no manual; it’s all online or in the app. Fortunately, I find instructions on the web to reset and get it working again, and then reprogramme the heating schedule.
And the all-singing, all-dancing Norton virus checker on my laptop keeps telling me all the wonderful options it offers that I am not taking advantage of. Does it really matter? Who knows? And can I really trust Microsoft’s OneDrive to not lose a vital file or two from the cloud, when I accidentally do the ‘wrong’ thing?
All this web-connecting technology really makes a lot of things easy in modern living. Yet more and more, I find myself confronted by a mystery when something goes wrong and the answer lies beyond my limited understanding of how it all works. Because you only need to know when it goes wrong. How to fix it, where are the instructions, where are the passwords, how did you ever get it going in the first place? A search engine usually gives an answer for the technology, who knows if it is the best one?
So what happens when there’s a power cut? What happens when the web goes down? Both of which will happen sometime, especially in these uncertain times. Then it’ll be back to the temporary brain fog while I try to recall where are the instructions, how to get everything going again – assuming the power and the broadband eventually do come back. It all feels rather precarious.
All this angst, and I have always been interested in, and involved in tech. What about those who aren’t, and those whose memories are fading with age?
Are we making a world that is just too complicated and vulnerable? But maybe that’s my age speaking. It will all come naturally to the grandchildren, assisted by so-called intelligent technology!