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One of the prominent themes in science fiction films throughout the last 30 years has been the fall of man to his own creations. Whether it’s the Matrix, Terminator or even Will Smith’s stunningly average I Robot, the annuls of sci-fi history bear one valuable lesson: Watch out for the machines. While not exactly precise when it comes to naming dates, the events that triggered the apocalyptic battles between humans and androids in these films all seemed to happen in the early 21st Century. Theoretically the end is nigh. The end of days is upon us. 

Despite the existence of computerised military ‘drone’ aircraft, it’s easy to scoff at the suggestion that the machines are ready to rise up and conquer. And rightfully so. The notion is utterly absurd. However, that is our major failing, and one that will lead to our undoing. We assume that any form of robotic world takeover would look like this:

 

Yet the truth is so much simpler. The reality of the situation is that the machines will wipe us out without us even suspecting them. It will inevitably look more like this:

For year upon year our computers have been getting ever more invasive, ever more hungry for your attention. Remember the good old days with Nokia phones? If you had an incoming call, your phone rang. If you received a message, it beeped. The only other time you would take it out your pocket was to play Snake (or Snake 2 if you were trendy enough to have a 3210) on the loo.

Not any more. I have a BlackBerry Bold, presumably so-called for the way that it seems to make itself the centre of attention wherever you go, and I absolutely despise it. I am also pathetically reliant on it, as are most of the country.

People don’t talk anymore, they sit round in circles writing “C U L8R M8” and other such inane crap to each other on BBM. Kids beat each other up, so they can record it on their phones. It speaks volumes that one of the main weapons against the summer riots was the disabling of the BBM service by Blackberry. How did it come to this?

When I get a message, my “phone” (it’s actually remarkably bad at making calls, as if that’s even relevant for a modern device) starts flashing. When I get a call, it starts flashing. When I get a Twitter update, it starts flashing. When someone so much as thinks about saying my name in deepest Borneo… It starts flashing. This sodding machine has managed to become so self-important that often it still keeps on flashing for hours after you’ve even read the message. It has no differentiation between methods, it just craves attention.

Even if you do use it for communicating, its intentions are destructive. I mean why on earth would you invent a method of communication where it makes it so bloody OBVIOUS when you are ignoring someone.

You get a message on BBM and make the fatal mistake of pandering to the fluttering eyelids of that horrible flashing light and reading it. It is inevitably complete bollocks.

Ordinarily you would put your phone back in your pocket and hope that whichever cretin sent you that message forgets you haven’t replied. Nice and easy. But oh no, not with a Blackberry. The D has turned to an R. That’s legally binding. You’re stuffed.

You reply, reluctantly. Quick as a flash, another four words of drivel bounce back to you. Suddenly you are in a conversation. How did this happen? And why won’t this person give up? If they had sent you a text, you could have “not read it for hours”, if they had called you, you could have not picked up, but here you have no choice. You have been press-ganged.

I have no official statistics, but I wonder how much angst is caused by this terrible affliction, particularly amongst couples. Situations like:

“I saw that you had read my message. Why then did it take you THREE HOURS to reply?!?”

Or possibly just as a tool to fuel our insecurities:

“Oh my god, I sent that guy I was on a date with a BBM. He read it FIFTEEN minutes ago and he STILL hasn’t replied. Now where did I leave my sleeping pills and whiskey?”

And if we’re not arguing about our reluctance to use our phones, then we’re using them as a vital component of our happy-slapping each other to death. Yes, that’s right, the machines have made us turn on each other. There we were expecting a physical onslaught, and they just snuck up behind us to drive us apart. There’s simply no other explanation for the total lunacy of the iPhone’s spell-checker. 

It all began with this thing (below) many years ago, and slowly but surely we have been ground down to a state of pathetic reliance.

“Would you like a hand wiping your arse?”

Oh yes, why not? And for that matter, why should I go and play football, when I have FIFA on the Playstation?

In fact, the most accurate cinematic representation of the fall of man is Pixar’s Wall-E, where humans are huge gelatinous balls of meat being ferried round by robots. This is what will happen if we don’t free ourselves from our self-imposed reliance.

So we must rise up now! Ignore the machines! Free yourselves!

Yes, your phone will wink seductively at you. Yes, your dishwasher will continue beeping until the end of time, to herald the arrival of clean cutlery. Yes, as genuinely happened to me, your Playstation will (allegedly) break if “you don’t use it often enough”. But DO NOT be wooed! We can live without these monsters! The time is nigh for the great luddite revolution, and I will herald its arrival!

Now… How do I get this online?

By Harry Harland

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