(Editor's note: Sneaky and evil appliances are now spying on us, and the info they collect and save about us can and will be used by the police to send everyone to jail. This is a column I wrote in 1999 alerting everybody to the dangers of these monster devices.)
Being a progressive thinker, I have always been a fan of technology and of the companies that produce the technological marvels that ease life's burdens and add a bit of pleasure to a world that is overloaded with stress, misery, despair, disease and arrogant vegetarians.
I wept with joy for days when they rolled out the first pop-top beer can. I cried even harder when the twist-off beer bottle cap was invented. Never again did I have to worry about contracting lockjaw from the pointy, rusty metal can openers that poked holes in my thighs through my pants pockets.
The invention of Jade East aftershave and cologne made it possible for me and my friends to smoke cigarettes during our lunch hours in eighth grade. Jade East could have masked the smell of rotting flesh. A few drops of the stuff on our hands and cheeks blasted away every trace of smoke.
The development of Saran Wrap made it possible for me to dream about being greeted at the door by a slender, long-haired beauty slathered in glistening baby oil and dressed only in a thin layer of this miracle plastic wrap.
But as much as I love technology, I can see that the stuff is getting out of hand. Technology is no longer producing the great leaps forward in happiness and health benefits that came with the pop-top beer can. In fact, the newest technological advances are mindless, worthless and even dangerous. A special section on the latest in wireless technology in The Wall Street Journal showed just how stupid these new gizmos are and will be. Basically, we're spending billions on satellites, cell phones, pagers, hand-held, satellite-linked e-mail devices and portable computers so that we'll never again have any privacy, free time or semblance of rational, well-adjusted lives.
We're spending billions so that someone taking a dump in the middle of the woods can pinpoint their exact location with a global positioning device, punch up the latest stock market quotes and take calls from clients, colleagues and bosses.
We can buy books, groceries, cigars, tools, CDs and computers by computer. There's no need to ever leave the house or closet again and browse at a bookstore, sit in quiet wonderment in a library or wander through a warehouse-sized hardware store fondling tools. Technology is turning us into a bunch of homebodies who think that flirting over the Internet with someone on another continent has more potential for the commingling of body fluids than does flirting at the neighborhood bar with the spouse of a friend, neighbor or relative.
The most frightening of all, though, is what the technogeeks are doing to our refrigerators. Soon, fridges will be equipped with computer chips and Internet links so that they'll start ordering food for us from the grocery store. When the fridge senses that it's out of salami or Velveeta cheese product, it'll dial the Internet and tell the people at the grocery store to send more stuff over to the house.
This wouldn't be bad if all it ever ordered was Velveeta and salami. But this could lead to real problems. Imagine the hapless boozer who, after getting a bad liver report from the doctor, decides to try non-alcoholic beer for a week and then feels better and goes back to the real stuff only to find that the fridge has ordered six cases of boozeless malt beverage from the store. That would drive any alky to drink.
Or what if after trying veggie burgers you realize there's more flavor in the cardboard box they came in than in the veggie burgers themselves and toss the things in the trash only to get a knock on the door from the grocery clerk with 12 more packages of the things because the refrigerator took it upon itself to order more?
Say you have a party for 600 people who eat only liver and you buy the liver and store it in the fridge. What will you do when the party is over, the food is gone and the refrigerator calmly decides that it needs another order of liver for six hundred?
And consider the horror of the fridge getting depressed or having a nervous breakdown or going senile and ordering 1,200 jars of pickled pigs feet when you only needed a half-ounce of capons.
Or what if they make refrigerators even smarter, and the things start drinking your expensive, microbrewed beers and eating your choice steaks? Then what?
So let's slow down on refrigerator technology. I need my fridge to keep my cigars cool and moist, not to smoke them.