I have nothing against the Google family of fine companies. In fact, I call my favorite search engine Mr. Google, the see-all, know-all patriarch of the clan.
He can find answers quicker than The Answer Man, and there’s nothing I like more than a good answer, especially ones I don’t have to get up to find.
As helpful as he is, you can bet Mrs. G keeps Mr. Smartypants from getting a fat head.
What does she care if he can dredge up the history of navy anchors and give you 3,082,456 examples in less time than it takes the average person to spell broccoli? It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to haul the trash out Wednesday morning, or put on his socks one at a time like the rest of us.
I share that down-to-earth attitude when it comes to Google Fiber, the Internet/TV outfit with the psychedelic bunnies, cute little trucks and hypnotic spell cast on Kansas City consumers.
It was all marketing – very good marketing at that – but I doubt super-fast download speeds and being able to record, pause and even rewind TV shows somehow makes us immortal or modern like mirrored skyscrapers.
The underlying message was that technological innovation somehow lives outside the material world.
It was unreal, or as Mrs. Google would say, “Sonny boy, you still have to dig trenches for your fiber, change the oil in your cute little trucks and pick up your psychedelic bunnies when the wind knocks them down. Did I mention that stuff breaks?”
My wife and son were hot on the whole Fiber thing, so we signed up but weren’t connected by the promised date. My son called several times, and finally the company came out and marked our property with little orange flags and spray paint.
Our hopes were raised, but the activity was a smokescreen. The installers still didn’t show; who knows, maybe Mr. G and his ilk were tied up with honey-do lists.
Then I had a good laugh when I noticed that AT&T U-verse, the Google competitor, had fielded its own fleet of cute little trucks, and that Time-Warner and the others were fighting back, too.
When our equipment finally was installed, there were a few glitches but it worked reasonably well. Now when I have to go to the bathroom or have a life-and-death need for pretzels, I don’t have to sprint out of the room and back before the commercials end.
I’m not saying rivers changed direction, but now I can pause a “live” show and take my time.
Generally speaking, though, I was lost. The TV picture didn’t quite fill the screen and the guide – the menu of what’s showing – was too wide for the downstairs screen, so you could tell what show was on and at what time, but not the channel number.
It may be my eyesight or the choice of tiny type by some outsourced techno geek, but I also can’t read the little info box that tells you what inning the Royals game is in or how much time’s left in the Sporting match.
Then there’s the issue of adjusting to a new lineup of station numbers, frankly something that doesn’t happen quickly at my age.
I finally did learn that the Royals were on 205, and that soccer games were somewhere near there. I figure the rest of what’s on, reality TV, amateur talent contests, cooking shows and political partisanship, isn’t worth watching anyway.
So I’m reading more, watching less TV and have kicked my “Law and Order” habit. These are all positive developments, especially since in polite conversation I’d started to call ambulance “buses,” referred to people as “perps” and freely used the expression “Who do you like for it?”
I isolated the three influences behind my Google Fiber aversion – my father’s tendency to see through hype and belittle it; my own aversion to our culture’s obsession with technology; and me personally being at an age when having to go the bathroom comes faster than change.
As time passes and reality evolves, there is always some natural resistance and important questions that go unanswered.
Mrs. Google understand my plight. “I can’t help you,” She said in a text message. “Why don’t you call my husband, Mr. Smartypants? He has all the answers.”
You can write Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.