Backwards Is Good

Every minute of every day can now be devoted to watching the small screen and keeping up to date with the entire outside world, all without a hello or how-are-you.

If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

Paragraph 7b of my Transparency Policy (Europe and Bolivia) requires me to state that this is fiction. Formed within from nowt.


All done now. Easy it was, really. Not a bother. Well, not too much bother. I uninvented Dead Easy App. It had been on my mind for a while.

Back in 2009 I had spent a few weeks putting the code together, and realised I was on to something big, and I mean gi-normously big. To summarise, versions of Dead Easy App were downloaded 9.7 million times within the first year and by 2021 the number shot up beyond 3 billion. Its success was all but ensured because I chose to make it available freely. I wanted no reward other than the satisfaction of seeing phone users benefitting from my work, and my name forever Oscared.

In a short time, millions of Mobilers were able to use phones while walking. Walking to the bus. Walking down busy footpaths. Chatting with friends. Teenagers, small children and many a willing adult came on board. Brilliant for young mothers pushing prams and buggies. Dead Easy App took care of all outside interruptions.

In the years since the launch, there has not been even a single incident of users crashing into one another. It does exactly what it says. Users are able to go about most daily tasks without having to shift their gaze from the screen. Examples such as walking the dog, eating a sandwich, paying contactlessly, chatting over a coffee, even cycling, can all be done safely without ever looking at anyone. The screen is queen. Or king if you want it that way.

Human interaction diminished and quickly drew to a standstill. Imagine the busy bustling scenes of downtown New York or Dublin, many thousands brushing almost shoulder to shoulder, never quite touching, and all the while reading, streaming and thumbing the addictive screens! It’s a matrix for the new millennium!

I’m sure you can see why a very small minority protested vigorously. Indeed they did. They wanted eye contact and the tactile nudge of strangers. Bigots and over-educated do-gooders. In their quest to be seen and heard, they tried very deliberately to push and shove their way through crowds, in supermarkets and even on sponsored charity walks. But Dead Easy App was built for such idiots! Attempts to outwit the Walking Dead failed miserably on all continents, and even on Dublin’s southside.

Fast forward to January 2023. User numbers have stabilised at 4.7 billion. People just don’t need to look where they’re going any more, and most would agree that productivity levels have increased exponentially. Every minute of the day can now be devoted to watching the small screen and keeping up to date with the entire outside world, all without a hello or how-are-you.

In my dream last Tuesday, the damage caused by Dead Easy hit home horribly. I awoke in a panicky sweat. Even before feeding the confused dog, I fired up the old laptop. It took me less than twenty minutes to add some extra code and when I finished, there appeared four additional items on the main menu. For clarity, here’s the top line:

  • Abort Everything
  • Say Hello
  • Breathe It All In
  • All Of The Above

I was clear in my mind that I wanted to go back to 2009. Just to be sure, I waited a while longer. My hands trembled. I made myself a cup of cocoa with some honey, and minutes later, I pressed the button.

The world turned upside down. It was akin to giving the dog a bone and taking it away. Confusion abounded, and will for a long while to come. Listening skills will need relearning from scratch. So too gestures, facial expressions and people skills. All destroyed utterly in such a short number of years.

If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

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