The Humo(u)r Mill
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The Humo(u)r Mill

Everyone: Please Stop Asking Me for My Email Address

Or… Technology: An update

Gonna be honest, I think I stole this image

Last week I joined a new gym. I went in with ID and a bank card, I signed up, set up a direct debit, gave all my details to a real person and the deal was done.

Now, for some unexplained reason, they keep emailing me to complete some online signature thing over and over. WHY? The transaction was sufficiently done last week. I know. I was there. In person. But now they have a digital medium through which they can hassle me all they like.

I guess this incident is a handy, indicative example of modern society. Want another?

I bought a work shirt the other day. When I went to pay, I had to give my email to the cashier. WHY? I’m here, Sith money, and shirt. We don’t need to bring email into it mate.

I told him I had already given my email last time I bought a shirt and the company is still emailing me now. After a quick look on his little screen, he said they couldn’t find my email on the system so I had to give ANOTHER EMAIL before he was happy to let me leave with a product in exchange for actual money.

When did commerce get to a point where you’re coerced into giving out some form of correspondence just to buy something? I’m not saying please can I have this shirt and also a FUCKNG LETTER ONCE IN A WHILE, nor is the shop called SHIRTS & EMAILS so what gives them the bright idea to ask for my contact details?

I want a shirt, not a fucking pen pal.

A while back, I took a week-long training course for work. The last time I went on a course was a good ten years ago, and that involved turning up, trying not to fall asleep and then taking an exam at the end. This time, despite work registering me on the course and paying hundreds of pounds for the displeasure, when I arrived I had to set up an account using my phone to their online portal. WHY? I’m right here, in the classroom after going through your real-life portal otherwise known as the FRONT FUCKING DOOR.

Predictably, this led to fuck-ups such as not being able to access the course account from my personal email as it was registered under my work email which ultimately led to a twenty-minute phone conversation with a helpline in India two weeks later when I still hadn’t got my results.

See, bullshit extra layers that apparently make things easier. But don’t.

Spotify is another fucker. It used to work like a dream. Then some bright spark said “let’s make it social” and suddenly the world’s best music streaming service has inboxes and outboxes and FUCK YOU boxes. Which of course will always end up causing issues. Somehow.

When Snapchat came along with amusing filters and timelines, Zuckerberg panicked and copied the stories concept on both Instagram and Facebook so now we have a stupidly large amount of options to show people we’re on holiday and how amazing our lives were. WHY? Facebook doesn’t need someone with a dogface filter drinking a Starbucks in a slide deck compendium of compulsive social angst. It worked fine making us anxious before.

Or maybe it does and I’m middle-aged? Who knows?

Even Medium, the simplest, back to the old school, black and white typing app now has a “series” function so ADHD arseholes can flick through listicles and avoid ever dipping their toe in the warm pool of concentration for more than five seconds.

I’m no Luddite. I embrace new technology. I love recording podcasts on apps on my phone. I love wireless mice and thin laptops and clean user interfaces that make technology a joy. What I can’t stand is taking something perfect and sticking a social element into it or having to log into Facefuck just because I want to buy a chocolate bar.

Technology, like lovely big long words, should enhance our lives, not complicate them. Lovely big long words aren’t there to make you sound clever or confuse people, they’re there so you can say one word instead of seven. It’s about being succinct.

And that’s what technology should be. It is meant to aid us, not add layers of complexity to simple interactions. To be succulent, not verbose. Look, I just want a shirt mate, let’s not bring my Twitter account into this.

Perhaps we’re at a tipping point. The iPhone used to be a wonderful piece of equipment. The recent upgrade changed the control panel to two scrollable screens meaning when you want to turn the brightness up, you inevitably flip to the play buttons on the next panel. It used to unlock with a feather touch of your finger. Now you need to touch your finger, and then press the start button to unlock it.

Sounds petty? Well, why the fuck add these extra bits of crap that mean extra clicks or movements with no benefit. Why add an inbox to Spotify, a story mode to Facebook, an email to a shopping transaction or an electronic signature to a gym contract that’s already been signed?

None of these things need refining. They do their primary function just fine thankyouverymuch. Just because we can add bells and whistles to everything doesn’t mean we should.

To summarise, I’ll use the words of some boffin what is much more cleverer than I am. You see, someone once said of invention:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

That was a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery if you care, and I for one agree, though with a name like that the man clearly didn’t practise what he preached.

But this is what software engineers and over-enthusiastic designers are missing. This is what retailers and gym owners don’t grasp. Simple doesn’t mean basic, it means streamlined. Less is more. It always has been. It’s why Apple won the phone wars. It’s why Amazon won the battle for the high street. It’s why Windows 8 was pure dogshit and always will be. No one wants every option under the sun, they want simplicity.

They want bread you idiots, stop force-feeding them fancy cakes.




Comedy from the flippant fingers of people who think they’re funnier than you

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Jamie Jackson

Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night.

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