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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, September 25, 2023

After a night at the opera, a weekend at Pilgrimage, and several hundred tissues, I desperately needed a day to recover. I would like to say I got a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed and ready to start the week, but instead I dreamed that someone living on the floor above me had a leak in their bathroom and the water poured through our ceiling and into Ralph’s computer so that I screeched loudly and spent the rest of the dream bailing it out.

Perhaps porta potty plus running nose plus angst about having to work…

I did sit in front of my computer today, accomplishing not much, but valiantly attempting to do a few minor tasks. You know, those minor tasks that should take about three seconds but end up taking half a day because oops, something went wrong. Those minor tasks that always sound like such a good idea to do on a slow day, until you remember that NEVER works out as planned.

It was during this pursuit of simplicity today that I couldn’t help ask a few important questions about life online.

For example, how does Facebook decide what it wants me to see? If not for my clients, I would probably never set eyes on Facebook again, but every few days I check it on their behalf, see if there are any messages and whether anyone has commented on any of their posts.

Since I have not signed into Facebook probably since last Wednesday, I had 67 notifications. This might sound like an exaggeration. It is not.

I had to be notified that Beulah Jane commented on Mary Sue’s photo. I had to find out that Bobby John liked Fred Shmoe’s comment on Maryanne Crumpet’s post.

Why? I did not ask to be notified of these things. I do not WANT to be notified of these things. The only way to not be notified of these things is to click each one individually and say “Do not show me notifications from Beulah Jane.” Which might end there, except a few months from now, Beulah Jane’s notifications will start showing up again, apropos of whatever it is Facebook decides.

The amount of nonsense I parse in a day is truly outrageous, all so I can see that some random spammer from Russia wants to sell my landscape client a bride.

I have more questions. Like why does Instagram think I want to see pictures of boobs? I hardly even use Instagram personally anymore. I sometimes sign on to see the two things my friends post and then to post my brother Stephen’s latest lottery news and trivia questions.

Occasionally I’ll watch some cute video of a cat flinging the remote off the table, or watch a dog floating down a river on a raft. But somehow they always suggest these accounts from women of illogical bodily proportions.

As for the ads… Instagram apparently thinks I really, really, really want to lift weights because there is always some muscle-bound big-boobed woman inviting me to do some program that will change my life.

Today I saw something totally different and was so stunned I actually stopped and watched it. It was an ad for a shiny green ring with a lizard on it. Which sounds exactly like something I would wear, you know, with my lace top and denim cutoffs.

Why, when I wanted to watch a video about how to use a specific function on my Apple watch did I first have to sit through an ad telling me “how to take the best poop of my life”? I kid you not. Maybe more importantly, why does that ad even exist?

Here’s something I want to know. When I go to a website and try to reset my password, who decided that it’s a good idea to ask me to enter the last password I remember? I don’t remember the password I’m supposed to be using now, is there any chance I’ll remember one I used BEFORE?

I want to know why it is so hard to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel an account plan. Usually cancelling or downgrading is the harder thing to do. Nobody puts a big red button that says STOP PAYING MONEY NOW. Google is the absolute worst offender when it comes to this. I wanted to cancel our trial of YouTube TV. While it seemed like a good idea, it is basically glorified cable without the box. It didn’t do what we really wanted it to do and it is too expensive to just say meh, we’ll watch it sometimes.

Do you know what you have to do to cancel YouTube TV?

Neither do I. It took me half an hour just to figure out how to GET to YouTube TV, because YouTube TV is a completely separate thing than actual YouTube, with a completely separate web address and login. So first I had to google how to access YouTube TV. Then once I finally logged in a poked around ten menus that popped me into twenty places, I had to google how to cancel YouTube TV. I really think they should pay ME just to cancel it.

I expect that, though. Whenever I want to cancel something, I google how to cancel it, which eventually takes me through a convoluted warren of FAQs and support articles until you finally get to the tiny link at the bottom of a page that says cancel now.

What I don’t expect is for it to be so hard to UPGRADE an account. There is a feature in one of the services that we have that I wanted to use. I clicked on it, and it said to use that feature, I had to upgrade my account.

Super. Let’s do it.

But there was no button, no link, not even a sentence telling me how to do that.

Commence half hour of googling how to upgrade account.

Corollary question: why, when you go online to upgrade something, do they tell you to call, then when you call, they tell you to do it online? I try hard not to get impatient and snarky with customer service people. But after an hour of looping between phone support and online chat, I tend to say things like are you actually kidding me right now?

Corollary question two: why, when you go to order something online, like a pizza, say, do they wait until you put everything in your cart and get to the end of checkout to tell you that you need to call to order?

Why, when I’ve ignored five or six solicitation emails from someone, do they continue sending me emails saying how they KNOW I’m busy but if I can’t respond to their below email, then why don’t I just put them in touch with someone who will?

That’s a huge are you KIDDING me?

I could go on all day, but your eyes would bleed and there wouldn’t be any answers anyway, so I will leave you with this final question.

Why is it so hard to unsubscribe from an email list? Lately someone, somewhere, quite possibly multiple someones with malicious bots have been signing me up for random email lists. I have gotten emails welcoming me to universities and online courses. I have gotten emails from lumber supply companies and for industrial air conditioners. For basketball apps and all manner of obscure things that have no bearing on anything I do.

My only option is to keep unsubscribing. Half the time the links are broken. The other half, it seems that I have merely unsubscribed from ONE of their apparently dozen lists, because not only do I have to unsubscribe from marketing emails, but then I have to unsubscribe from news, and offers, and community updates, and coupons, and weekly deals and monthly deals and door busters and Beulah Jane’s special announcements.

I woke up to 74 emails this morning, exactly zero of which were anything relevant.

No wonder I’m exhausted by the end of a day and have gotten nothing done.

And now I’ve promised myself to spend more time OFFline so that is exactly what I’m going to do, and tomorrow hopefully there will be time to spare for actual work.

Photo: in our condo we had a comfy chair where I liked to work. I took this photo one day to demonstrate where I had to sit on this chair to get internet. It seemed wholly appropriate to today’s blog.