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Today I Tried to Do a Simple Thing - Scott Adams' Blog

Today I Tried to Do a Simple Thing

Note: F-bombs aren’t for everyone. Skip this post if the word offends you. I would have used a different word but for some topics there is just no substitute.

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I have a credit card account that I need to close, and today I discover that Wells Fargo offers plenty of paths for opening new accounts but no obvious way to close one on a Sunday (when I wrote this). What a surprise.

“Fuck you, bank” I mutter to myself. I’ll just call the phone number for opening a new account and then you can transfer me to the people who close accounts. HA! I am so clever! I have done this trick with other companies and they only “accidentally” disconnect me during the transfer about half the time. So I like my odds.

The recorded voice says there is a six minute hold. Shit. My phone battery can’t handle that.

Where is that piece of paper on which I wrote the name of an app that calls you back when the other side is ready? I need that. Searching desk for note. No luck. Searching Google for it. No luck. Searching App store for it. No luck. Wait, an email is coming in. Ignore, ignore, focus! Stay out of that rabbit hole!

Shit, I better write down that thing I just remembered I need to do. If I don’t write it down right now I will forget again. Where’s my pen? Why do all the pens in my house end up on my bedroom dresser! I angrily trudge to the other end of the house for a pen.

I would have made a note on my phone but I can’t decide which of the ninety possible ways to save a note I want to use. I really need to spend a day looking at apps for that sort of thing. I have little notes to myself spread across seven apps that I forget to look at. Sometimes I email myself. Sometimes I put things on my calendar or my reminder app. Sometimes I just create a note document on my phone. And then I don’t look at any of it.

Wait, what the fuck is this pen for? I think I was going to write something down. Damn it.

I can’t remember the last time I completed a simple task on the Internet without searching my house for some obscure piece of paper with a note or account number on it. Sometimes I have to dig through past years’ taxes just to click “submit” on some fucking piece of administrative trivia. And I almost always have to search my email archive for some tip or clue about what to click or what account or PIN to use. And for some reason my keyword search only produces results about half the time even when I know the keyword is somewhere in my email. I think the problem is iCloud or climate change or something. I don’t have time to look into it.

I have six-thousand passwords, a computer operating system that was designed by sadists, and seventy-five items on my to-do list before lunch. And I can’t get one thing done because everything is connected via a web of complexity and missing information to every other thing on the fucking planet.

And if one more person helpfully tells me to get a password organizer, my head is going to explode. Organizing my passwords is on my list with about seventy other things I won’t get to.

I’m almost certain there was a time in my youth when I could just identify a task and go do it. Those days are over. Now in order to do the simplest things in life I have to recover a lost password, get disconnected from several 800 calls, dig through old email, delete old accounts and start new ones, upgrade software, and change the ink in my printer.

My new worldview is that day-one of any Internet-related task is just discovering what information you don’t have, or discovering that the software doesn’t do what you hoped. Realistically, I rarely finish a task that involves the Internet on the same day I start, no matter how trivial the task.

Is it just me or has the Internet evolved from a tool to a disease?

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Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
My personal Twitter account: @ScottAdamsSays

True story: The batteries on my wireless keyboard died before I could post this. I didn’t have any new batteries so I had to search my home for a device with non-dead AA  batteries that I could steal before I could finish the simple task of posting.

Second True Story: Immediately after writing this post I went to my car and the “low tire pressure” warning told me I should not drive it anywhere. I have an air compressor but no longer know which combination of poorly-labeled levers and valves controls what. And I needed an air pressure gauge, which I couldn’t find after an hour-long search of car, garage, and house. I would go to the store and buy a new gauge … if I had a car that worked.