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The Evil Empire: When modernity creates complexity.

I am, admittedly, an Internet addict. Although I’m not sure what that term means anymore – can we be addicted to things that efficiency necessitates? Clients rarely call anymore, Yelp reviews mean more than monographs and the tubes for sending out drawings are collecting dust in my office closet.

I have moved into a new office, one that is located in downtown San Francisco, mere blocks from my old one. Instead of putting away files, alphabetizing my books (a task that my then 11 year old daughter once found amusing, oh why did she have to grow up?) – I spent the day on the phone with AT&T. Get “u-verse,” they eagerly told me! It’s so fast! Reliable! We love your loyalty!

I will spare you the three hours on the phone that I spent trying to navigate the most convoluted voicemail and client services ever invented. The only credit I give is the automated voice who has clearly heard the word “representative” so many times you can just interrupt his monotone voice (and then, of course, be placed on hold for an hour). I crossed many oceans, where I spoke with an Indian man who complained about the quality of my phone connection….which was AT&T.

I was transferred and retransferred until a man took pittance on me and offered me a secret tech number; it lead me straight back to the beginning menu options.

It wasn’t long ago that we hailed the Internet as the ultimate tool for social democracy, of free information, free communication with the world at large. It was meant to be an incredibly place to express your ideas, unencumbered by social strata. But access to the social democracy isn’t free – there are miles of corporations, paperwork, back and forths, and bills between the information highway I now depend on for my work and myself. Our ultimate freedom is dependent on a corporation with no accountability and no transparency. Does the ease of the internet justify the hours on hold, the information I gladly give out (how many times have I verified the last four digits of my social just to make sure I could download an email?).

Today on my way back from work, I walked by the encampment on market street where people were protesting Bank of America’s actions relative to foreclosures, credit and bail outs. And I though that I should do the same: get a tent and picket AT&T. Then again, I don’t know if I want my phone service shut off too.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Red Ree #

    “Our ultimate freedom is dependent on a corporation with no accountability and no transparency.”

    Too true! And yes I was thinking of the Occupy Wall St group before I got to it in your post.

    Just try explaining to a robo-call from your own credit card company why you can’t scream your SSN on a crowded train platform!

    October 4, 2011
  2. Cynthia Riebe #

    If it’s any comfort I spent the past weekend on hold with Comcast attempting to restore my internet connection. They appreciated my business of course but were experiencing unusually high call volume and suggested I try to troubleshoot my problem at

    October 4, 2011
  3. Oh for the more simpler days of snake oil salesman on the back of a wagon. At least we could identify who was cheating us. The guy standing on the back of the wagon.

    December 10, 2011

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