The Annoying People We Hope Will Disappear from the Tech World in 2016
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The industry and community surrounding technology is filled with people who are essentially black holes of conversation, sucking the life out of any situation with their contrarian opinions and joyless demeanor, with you able to actually feel them forcibly removing your soul from out of your body whenever you’re trapped in their presence. They’re the kind of people who take to Facebook comments to brand iPhone owners sheeple, and who tut and roll their eyes at the tech trends embraced by anyone below the age of 21.
As per usual, we’ve seen more than enough of these individuals in 2015, and I hope that this doesn’t carry over into next year. Here are the annoying people I hope will disappear from the tech world in 2016:
People who tell us that we NEED to try virtual reality
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Virtual reality is experiencing a similar trajectory to stereoscopic 3D, only it’s inherently much more interesting and is unfortunately (but understandably) experiencing a far lengthier development stage. But much like stereoscopic 3D, those who have seen it in action before its full consumer launch can only explain it using the same handful of sentences: “You won’t believe it when you see it,” “you have to see it to understand it” and “oh man, VR, wow, yeah, I can’t describe it.”
None of these sentences are particularly helpful, though do highlight a fundamental flaw with selling such products to the general public: they actually have be experienced by the average consumer first before they have any chance of being bought by them. It was the same thing that doomed 3D TVs, and ensured early 3D TV adopters such as myself to become the very thing that I hate, insisting to anyone who would listen that the technology was excellent without actually being able to prove it in any capacity.
When you’re one of the first to experience a fledgling technology, you can quite easily assume the role of a tech evangelist, telling people that what you have experienced is very good despite them not having experienced it, and assuring them that if they ever experience it then they will be blown away by something that you can’t articulate accurately by virtue of them not having experienced it.
You can’t explain virtual reality without forcibly shoving a headset onto someone’s skull, and any attempts at you doing so is futile. It’s why YouTube videos of gamers screaming into webcams whilst running through a horror video game with an Oculus Rift strapped to their face are so annoying; it’s impossible for the viewer to join in. In 2015 we’ve had to put up with those who’ve tried out VR, either using a developmental kit or whilst attending a convention, repeatedly telling us to “try it out,” but the fact of the matter is we can’t fucking try it out because it hasn’t been released yet.
Okay, I get it, that’s not entirely true. We have seen the likes of the Samsung Gear and the Google Cardboard release this year, which offer cheaper points of entry for those looking to dip their feet into the VR water, but even though Samsung’s device and Google’s, er, box may be impressive and all, snapping our smartphone to the front of a pair of fancy goggles isn’t what we expect from the next big thing in the tech world. We want our Oculus Rift, we want our PlayStation VR, and we don’t want people who’ve tried either of those two devices out to keep telling us about how good they are. Fortunately in 2016 when these things finally release, everyone will shut up and allow us to live our lives in a virtual fantasy world in peace.
People who answer calls using their smartwatch
Image Credit: Apple
No no no.
There is no justification for anyone to ever use their smartwatch in order to make or answer a phone call. I don’t care that this is a feature boasted by the likes of the Apple Watch and therefore it’s “reasonable” that its users would want to try it out – you’re not Michael Knight. You do not, and absolutely should not, hold your wrist to your mouth in public, and begin telling Dave from accounts that you need those spreadsheets in by Friday by muttering to the back of your hand.
As a society, we’re all still getting used to the fact that some individuals happily walk around town talking into Bluetooth headsets, willfully looking like they’re publicly addressing voices in their head just because they feel they are too important to hold a phone near their face. We do not need to add people talking into their watches into the lexicon of things we’re forced to accept.
People who complain about the fine art of taking a selfie
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Watching another human being attempt to take a selfie in public is as awkward a moment as you’ll ever witness in your lifetime. Curiously monitoring them as they push their hair up with the hand that isn’t glued to their iPhone; watching them as they somehow simultaneously pout and grimace, seemingly attempting to convey the mood “I’ve just been force-fed five lemons but I’m still sexy as fuck,” and looking on as they bend their torso and arch their back in pursuit of the most ideal lighting, like a plant growing towards the sun. It’s an act of sheer vanity, yes, but is it really that bad?
Is teenagers and twenty-somethings taking a photo of themselves using their smartphone’s front-facing camera really an indictment of our vainglorious society, and evidence that our generation is more self-involved than generations past? Or is it simply another thing for crotchety curmudgeons to shake their fists at before waxing lyrical about the good old days? The good old days where people would collect their photographs and store them in actual albums, and who now proceed to whip out said albums at every available opportunity in order to force the current generation to look at what their generation was like, an act which is apparently not vain whatsoever by virtue of it being carried out by people above the age of 60?
Selfie-taking is a weird human behavior when observed in the wild, yes, but ask yourself the question: what are the alternatives? Sure, a gaggle of 22-year-olds huddling around a phone in a public toilet, before contorting their mouth until it resembles the beak of a duck should be cause for concern, but how else are they going to take a group photo? Their only options are to designate their least-liked friend as the photographer, or to hand their iPhone to a stranger and ask them to take the photo for them, running the risk of the stranger galloping off into the shadows with their $400 device. A selfie not only ensures that their phone won’t be stolen, but also ensures that they won’t have to retake the same image over and over again because Stacey thought she “looked fat in the last one.”
Everyone gets to be involved, everyone gets to strike their best-looking pose and everyone gets a new Facebook profile photo. It’s vain, but let’s not forget that everyone with access to a paintbrush was busily scribbling a self-portrait in the Renaissance, so I’m sure if those old bastards were given an iPhone 6s and a selfie stick they wouldn’t have been much different, either.
People who complain about Spotify
I should specify that I do not believe that Spotify should be exempt from criticism as a service. However, what I do take umbrage with is its detractors’ main point of contention, namely its “treatment of artists.”
I recognize that the advent of digital music forced the entire music industry into the middle of an incorrigible shit-storm, in which record labels’ financial bottom lines are routinely being undermined by consumers’ ability to easily obtain music for free or very little money. Therefore services such as Spotify, which offer a vast library of music to stream for a budget price, continue to excel alongside piracy, and though a wide variety of musicians have jumped on board it’s likely not their first choice in terms of how they’d want their listeners to experience their output.
But Spotify doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Streaming services like it sprouted up in order to create a balance between the reduced monetary value of music in the wake of online piracy, and the need for musicians to still make money despite people now being able to obtain their catalog of albums and singles for free. They may – and likely do – undercut musicians in terms of the percentage of money per stream they pay out to them, but they’re not the exception: they’re the rule. Their competitors such as Apple Music and Pandora pay out similar amounts to labels, who in turn pay a cut to their artists, with this amount of money inevitably paling in comparison to what would have previously been obtained from physical sales. This would inevitably anger those who are witnessing their profits being minimized as a result, but it’s still a fledgling industry occupied by very few major players, and as such the companies who stand atop this small pile will be trying to eke out as large a profit as possible until eventually a happy-medium is discovered.
However, people such as Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke are very adamant that all streaming services should sign a treaty, hike up their percentages dramatically with no regard for the well-being of their business, and continue on as though it’s 1994 again except you can now listen to LPs using a telephone. Yorke isn’t the only musician to have taken a stand against Spotify – Taylor Swift has also been notably outspoken regarding streaming services’ treatment of their artists – but he is the most interesting on account of his arguments against the company’s practices. Previously he referred to Spotify as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse,” adding that “it isn’t the mainstream” and that “what happens next is the important part.” But what could possibly happen next? Piracy’s still an option. If music streaming becomes any more expensive then many will simply revert back to that, and it’s not like there’s much room for change with the pricing of digital music, either.
In actuality, Yorke’s just one of many musicians shouting about the perils of us using Spotify, without acknowledging that there isn’t much room for an alternative right now. Being lambasted for not actively deciding to unnecessarily spend more cash in order to more adequately support musicians is irritating, and this kind of mindset actively led to the creation of Tidal, a contender to Spotify’s throne founded by Jay-Z that was sold on a guilt trip. The unveiling of Tidal saw an army musicians infinitely more wealthy than you and I joining forces, in order to inform us that we were all basically killing music by not paying a premium for our music. Their solution was to provide a more expensive service which tried to justify its higher price point with exclusive music videos few cared about, coupled with a better sound quality that would only be discernible by audiophiles equipped with expensive headphones. It turns out that pushing multi-millionaire Beyonce to the front of a campaign centered around the “struggling artist” wasn’t such a good idea, with Tidal providing to be a sizable flop following its launch.
Hopefully in 2016 everyone in the music industry will just accept that this is the way things are; that the landscape of their business has irretrievably altered to the point where no one is going to pay out of their nose for music anymore. The only way for them to rectify this issue is to create a better alternative, but as no one has attempted to do this aside from Tidal, which perceived “better” as “better for us super-wealthy folk,” we’ll keep using Spotify thank you very much Mr. Radiohead.