I bet computer mouses (mice?) are taking a beating this month.
Millions of people have been trying to sign up for health care online since mandatory coverage became law on Oct. 1 through the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare," a.k.a. "train wreck."
Rumor has it, however, that things aren't exactly going as planned, and the Obama administration has been trying to fix this thing on the fly. That's like trying to wash the windshield of an airplane in mid-flight.
Things got so bad that President Obama got on the mic Monday for a little damage control and to ease our worries, saying the White House was doing "everything we can possibly do" to get the websites operational. I wonder if he'll whip out a similar line when the site eventually gets hacked.
I railed on this online health care hookey-poo in an editorial earlier this week, and while I stand by what I wrote, there is another issue here that might not be as troubling, but noteworthy nonetheless.
First of all, shouldn't we have kind of expected something like this to happen? This is technology, ya know. Health care enrollee hopefuls from 36 states have encountered problems that have been traced to software and volume issues - big shocker. The Obama administration deserves blame for this and should be red-faced, but we should also remember that because we have become such slaves to computers and have gotten so spoiled by everything Internet, we have come to expect too much from the technology that totally runs our lives. We're victims of our own progress.
Here's my point: We are computer junkies who have been irreversibly reprogrammed. Some time in the last decade or so, the majority of us crossed over to this new lifestyle. Our sit-down-and-chill way of life is now one big drive-thru. We teach slow and unresponsive waitresses a lesson by not tipping them. Not much we can do though when websites are slow and unresponsive. Our minds have been manipulated to the point where anything less than instant results from our computer has the potential to result in a WTF! meltdown. What's worse, most of us aren't tech-savvy enough (quick, what does :// denote?) to understand what's taking so damn long.
Of course, the Internet has provided us many things - some of them even good, most notably convenience.
What's easier than paying a bill online? Checks, schmecks. And shopping online is the only way to go for millions of people, and who can blame them - no going out on a cold December day to buy Christmas gifts, no parking hassles, no lines to stand in, no annoying, perma-grin cashiers, no clothes folders asking you if you need help, no one spraying you with perfume, no commission-driven salesjerk telling you: "It might cost a little more, but it's worth it." I think online shopping sucks some of the fun out of the holidays, but that's me. You want to sit in your jammies and shop? Feel free.
And, of course, there's email. Why worry about envelopes and stamps and a stop at the post office when you can communicate with anyone, anywhere from your bed? Don't worry if stamps will probably cost you a buck in the future - by then it won't matter; no one will be sending personal letters the old-fashioned way anyway.
Kinda sad, but it's the world we live in.
What started as an American military project in the late 1960s, the Internet is now commonplace, and we devour it, because it's quick, easy and convenient.
Stoves are nice, but microwaves are fast.
Here's the catch: Every time computers crash and rainbow pinwheels spin, we humans crash and our heads spin. We've gotten so used to things being immediate that when something doesn't happen between blinks of our eyes we faa-reeek out and act all inconvenienced. When you're zipping along at 80 mph on the interstate for three hours, it's hard to turn onto a two-lane highway and dial it back to 60, isn't it?
Blame Obama and the Democrats in D.C. for the health care rollout all you want, but it wouldn't hurt to slow your brain down once in a while, either, if for no other reason than to give yourself a break.
And your poor mouse, too.