Updating Your Device

  • February 19, 2024

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to pee, stumbling half-asleep to the bathroom and catching yourself mid-stream when you realize you’re peeing in the clothes hamper –  because someone “updated” your bathroom in the middle of the night and now the hamper’s where the toilet used to be.

Such is the nature of “updates” when it comes to devices.

You used to know which inscrutable icon did what – and where it was located. Then your device gets “updated” – and now the icons have been moved around and they do different  things, too. You are obliged to forget how it all worked before and learn how it works now.

Until the next “update,” that is.

This is how it is with the devices that have replaced the phones we used to use to make calls. The latter had a physical keypad that could not be “updated.” The buttons were the buttons and they worked the same in 1970 as they did in 1990. If you learned how to make a call once, you never needed to learn how again. It meant one less serial aggravation to deal with. Granted, you could not send a picture over a hard-line phone. But the call almost always went through and rarely, if ever, “dropped.” Besides which, the phone on the wall cost maybe $25 and that was all it cost for the next 25-30 years. (There was of course the bill for service, but that hasn’t changed.)

The point being the phone was something under your control and so in a very meaningful way it was your phone. It did not “update” itself to a different color or location overnight; the keypad didn’t alter itself to some new format. It was just a phone and that was all there was to it.

Now it’s a device – and so is your vehicle, if it’s new. Even if it’s not an electric device. They are all electronically remote-controlled devices and you have the illusion of control and so the illusion of ownership, never mind that you get to pay for not owning these devices.

Who controls these devices? Why, their owners, of course.

I do not mean the legal-technicality owner; i.e., the person who writes the check each month to the finance company or even the person who holds “title”  – free and clear! – to the device. He is no more the true owner of the device than the person who thinks he owns the home he paid-off the mortgage on. The real owners are the ones who tell him what he is allowed to do with (and to) his home and require him to pay them rent money to avoid being evicted from the home he is allowed to use so long as he continues to pay (and obey).

And now homes are on the receiving end of “updates,” too. So-called “smart” meters and “smart” devices are the means by which homes are “updated.” Meaning, controlled by the true owners, who aren’t the ones living within. It is silly to imagine yourself the owner of a home in which the “smart” thermostat countermands the temperature you selected (and are paying for, to boot).

Tesla revealed how the same can (and will) be done to the device that they – the controllers – plan to replace your vehicle with. An “update” was sent by the true owner of these devices, allowing them to travel farther on a charge, in order to allow the users of these devices to get out of the range of hurricanes. This was received with thanks – by fools who do not understand that the power to give includes the power to take away.

When you are the owner of a vehicle that cannot be “updated” – unless you physically update it, as for example by modifying its engine or replacing the stereo it came with – then you have control over it and also knowable control. You know exactly how much fuel the tank holds and if it is full, you know it will not be empty (assuming there’s no leak) until you use the fuel. You know how far it will go. You have the peace of mind that comes with knowing how far it goes is not subject to “updating.”

And neither is anything else. What you bought is what you have and – short of physical confiscation – it cannot be taken away. On the other hand, if you own a device, you have the shaky illusion of control. The device can be disabled as easily as it is enabled, by the owner – who isn’t you. Down to the heated seats you thought you bought but which work only so long as you maintain your subscription – and an “update” doesn’t tell them to stop working.

And that’s the “update” for today.

. . .

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