Saturday, 11 April 2015

Back pocket idiocy (mostly men) and the spread of substitute emotion (not just men)

I'm on my soapbox today. Two main subjects, though I may digress. Two things I really do not understand about what other people do. For 'other people' read 'mainly men' - although I think I see plenty of girls owning up. Yup. Some sheepish hands raised over there, in the back row.

First, this BBC News article about Samsung hitting back on tests that had revealed its brand new flagship mobile phone, the Galaxy S6 Edge, breaking in two sooner than Apple's iPhone 6 in a stress simulation intended to mimic what the thing must go through when slipped into the average back pocket - see

What? An expensive phone tested to destruction? Just to determine that it isn't quite as tough as another when mistreated in a completely idiotic way? (But still pretty damn tough, judging by the results)

Setting the tests aside, why do I say 'idiotic'? Well, what is clever about carrying a valuable article in an unsafe place? Anything in the back pocket of a pair of jeans or trousers is out of one's personal sightline and easy for a thief to finger and take away. And this is not only an article costing hundreds of pounds if bought outright, or dozens of pounds if on a monthly contract, but the repository of one's entire social and financial life. Your ID, and that of everyone whom you call a friend. You might as well have a fat wad of banknotes stuffed in there, in full view of every passer-by, and expect (stupidly) that nobody will help themselves.

Phones have been getting bigger, and therefore likelier to fall out of that pocket by complete accident - to be found and picked up by somebody, and in this dishonest modern world you simply cannot bank on your cherished status symbol being neatly packaged up and posted back to you (intact, and its contents uncopied) by the finder.

Phones have also been getting slimmer, so that you can't feel them so much against the body. They are no longer lumps in the pocket. They are getting to be more like slippery thin wafers. All the better for deft fingers that want to make illegal acquaintance with your Little Companion and True Friend.

Who sports back pockets and uses them? Why, the male of the species! Guys, wise up. This is the silliest thing to do. Have years of lost wallets taught you nothing?

But there are also girls who are equally willing to take these huge risks with their most useful social accessory - girls in jeans who scorn bags, that is. Girls who love bags keep their phones out of sight in them, and if the bag is large and full of junk, the thief will be thwarted. A thief simply can't afford to take five long and risky minutes trawling through a bag for what he or she knows must be there, but stubbornly refuses to be found. Thus mess is the enemy of theft, and, conversely, keeping everything in apple-pie order, and in the logical and handy place, positively assists the pilferer. (I am therefore more vulnerable than a disorganised air-head)

But back to those tests, and the idiocy of thinking that something small and very complex, manufactured to fine tolerances and full of delicate electronics, with a glass screen to boot, will take extraordinary punishment. This is not military-grade equipment that has to last years and endure battle conditions. It's a mass-market Object of Desire, a Fashion Statement fully as much as a useful communication and information device. Why treat it badly? Why expect it to survive the mighty bending forces that might be exerted by a muscular male bottom when sitting down in McDonalds, Burger King or KFC? I don't get it. I don't understand the attitude.

With a sad shake of the head, I will now move on to emojis, those colourful moving cartoon faces and objects that are supposed to be visually stimulating and add something emotional to straight text in a message, such as:

'Hey, look, I'm winking! I'm not really being serious about what I just said!'
'I am not only saying this with all-consuming everlasting love in the foregoing words, I would - if by your side right now - physically hug you.'
'I am really perplexed and worried. Can't you see?'
'I am hopping mad about this gross violation/denial of my rights/privacy!'
'I love using emojis, and this hyperactive one that waves at you, pokes out its tongue, and blows kisses is my favourite.'

Apple has just brought out a new set for iPhone users - see this other BBC News article:

Let me just say that anyone who sends me a message containing one of these irritating things will take a dive in my estimation. I will think them childish and mentally vacant. If a full and complete explanation of your emotional state is needed then - for goodness sake - please take the time and care to express it in glorious English, and do not fob me off with a ready-made cartoon. I don't want substitute emotion.

Are there any taboos on emojis? Or do ones exist to convey condolences when (for instance) there is relationship breakup, or a child is killed, or another tsunami has wiped out your parents or siblings in a coastal city in far-off Indonesia? Disgusting little faces that weep tears, wave slowly and sadly, and try to look brave? I'd not be surprised if there were.

'Nuff said, I think.

I didn't digress at all, did I?

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