7/7/14, Are we taking technology too far??


Hi Everyone,

As a person who has had a war with machines all my life, I can’t help but ask myself that question. Machines have always hated me, and I have to admit, it’s mutual. I hate them back. I have no problem with a light switch or the basics. I owned an electric can opener years ago that I could never operate. It took me 5 years to learn to fax, and longer to figure out how to get my messages off my cell phone. I kept forgetting how to do it. I can however manage a toaster, and now a microwave if it’s not too high tech. And my cell phone is prehistoric.  Smart Phones terrify me, so I have stuck with my old 14 year old battered cell phone that has disco lights that warn me when I have a message. I could give you a list a mile long of the machines I can’t figure out how to operate, and my mistakes on my laptop are legendary. I usually hit delete instead of send when writing a message, and then can’t figure out later why the person didn’t get my message and didn’t respond, when I complain that they didn’t. I write on a 1946 manual typewriter which does not erase my latest book. And I can’t blame the machinery in question, in my case it is ALWAYS pilot error. I can write a 500 page book, but damned if I can send an email without a hitch.

So for me the world of virtual everything and E-everything is pretty scary. In that context, I was told today that there are, or are going to be, computer operated cars that you don’t have to drive yourself, you just program them and they drive you. My home in Paris can usually be accessed by a minefield referred to as L’Etoile (The Star). In the center of it sits the very dignified Arc de Triomphe, there is a circle of traffic that runs around it, and a dozen broad avenues leading away from the circle. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. You take your life in your hands when you enter that circle of frantic traffic, cars going at odd angles to each other at full speed, in a mad dash to go from one boulevard to another, it looks like bumper cars or the destruction derby. And I have friends who have devised elaborate routes to avoid the circle entirely. So how is a computerized car going to navigate that without imploding? Hard to imagine.  And there is an “app” to park your car now. Why? I can actually manage to park my car myself. I can drive without a problem, I just can’t operate my computer.

I am also terrified by surgery performed by robots. I know it’s state of the art surgery at its best—-but what if the computer blows up, or goes haywire, or does something crazy, like my toaster or my microwave? The idea of a surgeon in Cincinnati, eating his lunch while operating his computer, performing surgery on me in Phoenix, or Houston or Miami, scares me to pieces. I can barely get my mouth open at the dentist, let alone stomach the idea of a robot doing surgery. On the other hand, a surgeon with shaky hands after a bad night before isn’t too reassuring either, and a robot presumably eliminates the possibility of human error, but still…

And I learned today that drones will no longer be used for aerial photography in real estate. Why? Did they hit someone? Take off their head? Hit a 747 at high altitude? If they’ve been eliminated in real estate, what terrible thing did they commit to be banned?

And the last straw came when I saw on my computer tonight (while trying to send an email) that there will now be computerized Smart Bras.  Computerized bras? Wow. Now that is impressive and really scary. My current bras are definitely not smart, they just hang there doing their job quietly. They seem to hold things up okay, although admittedly my bra size is small ( okay,very small), so they don’t have to do a lot of work, but my bra has never complained about it, at least not that I know of. What does a Smart Bra do? Do I really want to know? Will it teach my boobs to speak another language, vacuum, do laundry? A Japanese friend has a robot to do housework and vacuum. So could a Smart Bra be taught to do household chores, walk the dog, or feed the children? How smart could our boobs get, and our bras? I’m afraid here I go back to basics. I think I’ll stick with my fancy French bras which do absolutely nothing except decorate the landscape. My daughters once decorated their Christmas tree with fancy multi-colored bras. But a computerized Smart Bra? Maybe it could decorate the Christmas tree all by itself….I’m afraid that technology has left me way behind on this one…..I’m still back in the dark ages wearing a Dumb Bra, not a smart one, don’t have a robot doing my vacuuming, and park my car myself. And the idea of getting into a car that will drive itself is terrifying, what if it gets confused and takes me somewhere I dont want to go, while my Smart Bra gives it the wrong voice commands…..wow, guys, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for virtual everything. And if my bra spoke to me, I think I’d faint…unless it paid me compliments….maybe a Smart Bra could be taught to lie….”Congratulations!!! You wear a 44 Quadruple D”…..in that case, maybe it would be okay…..but I guess for now, I’ll stick to basics….have a great week!!! A real one!! Not just a virtual week!!! And watch out for heavy machinery!!!


love, danielle


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9 Comments so far
  1. mary July 7, 2014 12:51 pm

    One of the saddest changes I see is everyone burried in their phones and computers and ignoring the people right in front of them, put the thing down and have a real life relationship!

  2. Lorraine July 8, 2014 5:08 am

    Fun article! Another problem can be tv remotes, they all seem different these days!

  3. pj July 8, 2014 10:33 am

    That was a great column!
    Keep your old phone, I miss my Blackberry a lot. Unfortunately, I went with the crowd and purchased the latest fancy schmancy Iphone–not thrilled as it takes longer to find a contact and make the call.

  4. Jennifer L July 8, 2014 6:52 pm

    What a great blog entry – so funny and true! Thanks for bringing some laughter into a challenging day in which everything seemed to go wrong (which happened to include computer, internet and iPad woes, along with narrowly missing hitting someone who suddenly walked in front of my car; he was too busy texting to notice). And now I think I’ll go curl up with one of your books – a hardcover, not an electronic one!

  5. bernadette July 9, 2014 12:34 am

    Really funny Danielle..I totally your blog..really true. These high technologies are somewhat scary…honest communication is sometimes lost..the fun part is we get to read your blogs. Have a nice day Danielle.

  6. Brooke Fox July 9, 2014 5:33 pm

    I can completely empathize with you. I am twenty four, and I am behind most of my peers. I could write my friends a story, but if they ask me to actually to produce it in some fashion- now I am at a halt. The question is inevitable, since I always know when I first begin a story that I will need to place it somewhere for someone to read. Yet, every time, inevitably, I just stop and look at the person.

    When asked to navigate websites, I oftentimes feel bereft. Downloading, converting, or finding the proper device for my work is like combing on a bad hair day. When my friend talk about Gigabytes (I didn’t even spell this correctly until I checked), I quickly turn to the side, muttering something indeterminate, trying to cover up my embarrassment. I know absolutely nothing of relevance in technological chats- I generally try to avoid them. I love so many forms of artwork (music, for instance, always requires technology of some kind). I enjoy all variations of art, communicating, writing. However, as I am always catering to an online-based audience, there is always a con to it.

    Yet, with all this, up until today, I thought that I was informed of all the dynamics of my plight. Now, though, I can fully appreciate the measure to which I a lagging. If I were to walk into a store and pick up a bra from its shelf, and it started to whizz, or speak to me in some kind of simulated voice, I think I would faint. Honestly, I would much rather stick with my old bras, and although they are tacky, they are much more comfortable for me than machine bras. Indeed, after this, perhaps, my feelings on technology, rather than a sign of ignorance, are a sign of wisdom- I shall have to tell me friends this when we next speak . . .

    Now I feel very self-satisfied! Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Keyla Marques July 10, 2014 11:23 am

    I didnt know about the smart bra..that kinda scared me. But dont hate technology, of course there are things that we really dont need, like those “smart” cars. people are getting “lazier” and thats not good.

  8. grant July 11, 2014 12:01 am

    First time reading your blog, I live near your SF house for 7 years and finally made it here. Is blogging high tech?

  9. Randy Gilstrap July 20, 2014 1:13 pm

    Dear Ms. Steel: most of us have experienced the feeling of machines/technology frustrating our lives when they don’t do as expected. I,too, am puzzled when an email is not sent when I swear I pushed “Send” but I still keep trying to persevere. Hang in there & leave open the door for a healthy relationship with machines. Your humor will soften their cogs ❤️ and you will gain another fan.