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Invention is smart people creating new things, and technology is other people screwing with them in ways the inventor never imagined. For example: vacuum cleaners.

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"It's probably best if you don't watch what happens next."

The whole point of technology is letting people use things they could never understand. It's why Fox News has a website, instead of a tree people avoid because the residents throw shit at everyone. The upside is that millions of users can discover functions the inventor never imagined, and we live in a world where someone imagined and invented a holster so that people could have sex with their iPads. Possibly to make changing the vacuum bag less disgusting.

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Also a great way for Apple fanboys to watch the yearly keynote.

Many other technologies you use every day have hidden bonus functions.

Voice Mail Age Check

We all have a physical age, a mental age, a legal age, and a technological age. For example: I'm 36, but I spent an hour this morning practicing tricks with a butterfly knife-style bottle opener, with beers I was legally allowed to buy, while listening to a dance remix of the original F-Zero. That's so many different combinations of old and young, the police are inquiring if I hosted any '80s children's programming.

Our technological age is important. When you're young, you want to survive in a world full of interesting tools, and learn accordingly. When you're old, you wish everyone would just stop doing so much, and vote accordingly. There's a definite switch where people limp out of the march of progress to sit on a lawn chair shouting at the cyborgs speeding past.

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"I just want to murder trees any time anyone sends me anything, is that too much to ask?"

It's silicon dating, which doesn't mean going out with wipe-clean synthetic partners.

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"Aw yeah, baby, I know you're checking out my bone action."

Carbon dating tells you when something stopped absorbing carbon-14, which is when it organically died. Silicon dating tells you when someone stopped learning about new machines, which is when they technologically died. The binary test for this technoperosis is voice mail. For the technold, it's a useful service; for the cyberyoung, it's older and lamer than the prefix "cyber-." It's like sending a message on a carrier brontosaurus: not just clumsy and slow, but based on serious mistakes from the past. Accessing voice mail means stopping what you were doing, dialing up a number, and hammering buttons in the hope that the robovoice will let you get into your messages faster this time. And then listening to it again to work out the bits you missed, because recording messy audio when you're holding a keyboard connected to a digital transmitter is a dick move.

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"Welp, let me just bog you down with a bunch of platitudes while you impatiently wait to find out what this interruption is about, then I guess I'll slur the vital phone number so you have to listen to it all again, yup."

Using a portable computer, to access a microwave network, to get to a touch-tone menu, to access a voice recording? That's hitting your handset with a devolution ray. It's only one step from dipping your iPhone in bison blood to scrape out a cave painting, which would be the only noise more excruciatingly drawn out for the phone's user.

Facebook External Intelligence Test

We recently learned that Facebook has been conducting psychological experiments on people, but that shouldn't be a surprise, because that's what we've been using it for all this time. If you ask someone "Are you an idiot?" they'll lie. If you approve their friend request, they'll tell you without being asked.

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"That person I met at the bus stop is sure to like Clown Farm Organ Harvesting Wars!"

You can't walk up to your family with specialized tests to see if they're worth talking to unless you're in Scientology. (And if you are, forget the jokes, run -- not a joke, run run run.) Your Facebook feed is an unfiltered view into your friends' and family's intelligence and prejudices. Learning about their awfulness at large family events is too late. When a great-aunt starts explaining her theory of racial superiority, you can do nothing but wince. Forewarned, you can steer the conversation away, sit somewhere else, or open the conversation by describing how you hired a really great troupe of multinational buffet staff who'll be out later to show off their knife collection.

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"We're from those countries you talked about, and cutting up flesh, then disposing of it, is our entire job."

You can't avoid your family, but after a few posts, you know which relatives can be tuned out faster than others, which are too keen about babysitting on religious holidays, and whose financial advice should be taken with a dehydrated Pacific Ocean of salt.

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The USB Dipstick

The Universal Serial Bus has now been plugged into more things than human genitals, and dispensed more useful and entertaining material. It can also be the most frustrating computer connection in existence. So many people complain about not being able to get it in easily, it's only a matter of time till they start marketing USBiagra.

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Now transferring "Freudian Imagery."

The rage results from its spectacular success. USB has replaced 90 percent of all casual cabling, so of course it's going to be involved in the most frustrations. But its unexpected side effect is as a digital dipstick to see if someone is a dipstick. Anyone complaining about how it's impossible to connect a USB plug is advertising an error in themselves. Don't get me wrong -- USB sticks do seem to be quantum spin half particles: You have to rotate them 720 degrees to get them back to their original orientation. But that's truly a quantum effect because it doesn't happen when you actually observe the plug in the process.

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Of course, to get people to actually do that, you'd need to market "looking at the plug" as
"iUSB, an optical solution to a connection problem."

You either check the cable first, or, if you can't see clearly, calmly push it in twice. Because the thing has two sides. Always shoving it in without looking and then getting upset is exactly as ridiculous as being annoyed that you can't flip a coin and always get heads.

When someone complains about USB sticks never going in the right way, they're saying, "I have the exact same problem over and over again, and would rather repeat the frustration and complain than change my behavior one iota. I would rather randomly bash things at a hole than take one second to look at what I'm doing." So don't put them in charge of organizing anything. And definitely don't have sex with them.

Asshole-Canceling Headphones

Headphones are how you tell the rest of the world that you're done listening to its bullshit. They've helped more people through commutes than Ford. Plugging in and closing our eyes is the closest we've come to jacking into the Matrix. But given what we know about most famous musicians, you'd think they were injecting assholes into our skulls, not screening them out.

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"Yes, I want all these guys thrumming inside me."

But even without music, they can help all humanity, and will win the Nobel Prize for Women Who Don't Want to Put Up With This Shit the second that becomes a thing. Their emergency mode doesn't require any power, or even a musical device. Simply placing buds in your ears gives you an easy way to ignore all but the greatest of assholes, and to identify those greatest of assholes when they continue trying to take your attention, even though you're clearly listening to something that will improve your life more than them, be it music or an educational podcast.

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"... and when they say 'Give me a smile!' strike the base of their chin with the rising flat of your hand,
crashing their stupid teeth together ..."

Unplugged headphones are how you MacGyver an anti-human force field with 40 cents of plastic and wire, and they work for anyone of any gender. And if you're thinking "But what if I want to talk to someone wearing headphones?" just remember that their eyes are still working. They know you're there. And if they decide to keep wearing the headphones, that is the answer to anything you could have said.

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The kinkiest thing on your phone isn't that guy wearing only a rope on Tinder, but the spellchecker, coyly insisting that it's never heard of these dirty words you've been teaching her. "Ah do declare," giggles the BelleChecker, "Ah've never heard of such a thing. Would you like to enter 'anal'?" And then you finger anal. And that's on purpose. Someone was hired to go through the entire English language and remove every dirty word in it, just so you could teach them to that giggling little Electrolita you put in your pants pocket.

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And now you know why it heats up so much.

I learned this the last time I got a phone. Smartphone makers think we either verb ducks for fun or want to teach our phones to swear. But verbing ducks is by far the filthier option.

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"You're not my type, at the taxonomic class level."

This affected innocence is an attempt to avoid blame for poisoning the minds of children, despite the fact that, since dictionaries first existed, the first thing any child has done is look up the dirtiest words they can think of. And of course the dictionary will tell them, because it's a resource, not a censor. No child is going to decide against swearing when their smartphone puts a wiggly red line under the word "fuck."

You can't hand a child Internet access and then insist they don't see swear words. It's like handing a child a box of infinite genitals and hoping they won't look at any. Note: That is also what you're doing when you give them Internet access.

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He's already bored with things I didn't even suspect at his age.

(Thanks to J. Vanessa Gritton for giving Belle her accent.)

Game Self-Improvement

Every video game now comes with a pause for reflection, which works a lot better when Dragonborn does it than when my parish priest used to. Every time you start a modern game, it now demands the chance to check for updates, leaving you sitting waiting while your own entertainment device decides if it has anything better to do than play with you.

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"Man, I hate Existential Crisis Simulator 4."

That's a pretty heavy existential implication for a video game. We grew up staring into the screen, but now that there's a global information network, even the video games take a moment to see if they couldn't maybe improve themselves instead of playing with you. That's the sort of thing that would make you question what you're doing with your life.

But like all important questions about yourself, the only good answer is "HELLS YES!" Like all meditation, this enforced introspection isn't directly about improving yourself, only focusing on and truly living in the present moment, so that when the computer finishes phoning home and asks, "Are you sure you just want to screw around instead of getting anything done?" you're fully prepared to answer, "You're damn right! Woohoo!"

Enjoy more modern technology by learning The Tale of the Tired Terminator, or learn more cinematic secrets with The Terrible Truth About Starship Bridge Crews.

Improvise more elements of modern life with 5 Secret Criminal Uses for Stuff They Sell in Gas Stations and 9 Regular Objects Turned into Insane Prison Weapons.

Luke has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.

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