The World’s Worst Invention

Posted on September 21, 2014


Recently Apple revealed its newest competitor in the information technology sweepstakes, the Apple Watch.

My latest Time magazine had an article on the AW entitled something like “Never Offline.” You never have to be offline anymore, miss email, the stock ticker tape, immediate news from your social media, it’s all there, all the time.

That is a nightmare. Online, all the time!

Where has the peace and rest we all need to survive in the world gone?

I haven’t even looked up on the Net—which of course I could do instantly if I just had my AW strapped to my wrist—on the benefits or necessity of rest.

Lucky for me, as I browsed through that issue of Time with the new AW I found another article on the “The Power of Sleep,” or, roughly, why we need to sleep. One would have thought that was pretty basic, but in the information age, we need to know precisely why we need sleep.

Published in my column The Port Rail as Sleep and Give Your Brain a Needed Break in The Tuscaloosa News on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

Published in my column The Port Rail as Sleep and Give Your Brain a Needed Break in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, September 21, 2014

My wife agrees with Time that most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night, and I, of course, never question her wisdom. Seven hours sounds about right.

She also said too much alcohol or too much time on the computer or personal device will interrupt your sleep cycle, prevent you from getting to sleep, and so forth.

She gave me this advice while on her nightly two or three hour television watching time, which I was going to suggest was just as disruptive to rest as my laptop or iPad, but electronic devices at twenty paces are probably just as deadly as dueling pistols.

Psychologists, probably psychiatrists, and every other type of professional “…ist” agrees with me. We need rest.

We need a break from twenty four hour news, twenty four hour football, twenty four hour eating, twenty four hour sex, twenty four hour anything instantly available on television or on your personal device. And, now, with AW strapped to your wrist, you hardly even need to think anymore.

The AW will wake you up, a fitness app will make suggestions and set goals, a quick look at Glances as you commute to work will provide you with your calendar, stocks, locations, etc., email is of course a must, and Smart Replies—in case you are struck dumb for a few seconds or, in my case, get a senior moment—will suggest possible responses.

If you forgot your wallet or credit cards so intent were you on learning all the neat ins and outs of your new AW, no problem. You can pay for a quick take out at your favorite Chinese restaurant with Apple Pay, and play with your Watch until bedtime.

Presumably it also tells time.

Now, watches that do a lot of the above have been around for some time. But none that worms itself so easily into your inner being. Can an Apple chip implant be far behind?

I remember my first Mickey Mouse watch. It was pretty neat.

Next came watches that do everything. I have one with so many little windows and tiny gadgets that I can barely tell time. If I turn the winding screw the wrong way, it has a diabolical seizure and the hour and minute hands just spin round and round. Where they stop is like a roulette wheel, nobody knows. At least the roulette wheel has a pay off if you hit the right combination.

The article on sleep basically said you can’t turn off your brain with so many electronic distractions that keep you engaged even if you manage to nod off after turning off the lights. You keep on going, just like the LED lights blinking and shining all night in the dark. Nothing stops.

And if your brain isn’t given some rest, it loses its ability to cleanse and restore itself for the coming day. You wake up groggy and sleep-deprived and are behind the eight ball all day long. But, not to worry, you can stay up to date since your AW will kick in and take care of things while your brain wrestles groggily with sleep deprivation.

No one recognizes that Hispanic culture was way ahead all the time as the gurus in Silicon Valley were tinkering madly. The siesta or nap will alleviate the doldrums of the information age. That seems hopelessly old fashioned and inefficient. Maybe the AW can be programmed to suggest nap time if your wrist starts to flop around suggesting a lack of control.

I take my siestas seriously. No AWs for me, although my next birthday is in October and if the wife and kids are looking for the gift for the dad who has everything….

Published in my column The Port Rail as Sleep and Give Your Brain a Needed Break in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday September 21, 2014.

Posted in: Life in America