Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

The Dumbing of the Internet


Last Friday, by 10am, I had encountered three appalling examples of an increasingly dumb online world. They reminded me of questions a friend asked at lunch just two days earlier.

She asked, Why was everyone (and everything) getting dumber? Worse, why did it seem no one noticed or cared? (I recalled books from the 80s and 90s about this Dumbing of America.)

Friday, I had been searching for Internet alternatives and happened upon something called ComcastConnect. Was this different from the (I almost said plain ‘ole) regular Comcast?

When I entered my zip code, the site told me the service was not available in my area. Huh? Not only had I used Comcast here, they have a “store” just down the street. Here’s the web page.

Here’s the kicker. The site said what was available was Cox Internet (Essential and Preferred). Since when? These non-competing services have divided this area from the beginning.

My second example revealed dumbness elsewhere. I had been searching for an LED reading lamp on Amazon earlier in the week. After considerable effort, I gave up in disgust.

Friday, in no time at all, I found a number of viable options at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond website. How was it so easy there, and so difficult at Amazon? I could tell you, but it gets technical.

I can say Amazon is not as smart as people think. It’s one thing for Google to waste our time, distracting our searches; they serve advertisers, not us. Doesn’t Amazon want our business?

My final example goes beyond dumb to blithering idiocy. At the VA’s MyHealthEVet site, qualified veterans can reorder prescriptions, find lab results, get appointment lists, and more.

So Friday morning, I tried to get my upcoming appointments for January and February. Couldn’t. The site was unable to set a search date any further into the future than December 2013!

That’s right, they had yet to add 2014 to the year list. I checked this very carefully, but when I went online today, there was 2014. However, a last-minute fix doesn’t invalidate my premise.

These website stupidities are a clue as to the widespread dumbing down of society. I don’t know many things, but I do know websites. Since these have become such a large part of our modern world, my observation is, yes, it’s all getting dumber.

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