GOG: All these buttons and not a single one for Ovaltine?

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn

This week I decided to take a mad leap into the twentieth century and buy a Radar Range, apparently now known as a 'microwave oven.'

All I wanted was a machine to heat my porridge in the morning and my Ovaltine at bedtime. Put the mug in, turn the dial, hit 'Start' and presto, steamy Ovaltine.

But oh no, that would be too simple. Far too simple.

Instead the machine comes covered in fiddly little buttons which do absolutely nothing. Some are labelled with food items like 'Potato' and 'Seafood.' This is absurd. Pushing any one of these produces absolutely the same result – some annoying beeps and a little shower of microwaves which heats or cooks your food, followed by more annoying beeps.

One is labelled 'Vegetable.' Does this mean I can only put in one vegetable at a time? It doesn’t seem to matter a bit if you hit the wrong button. I put in a potato and pressed 'Seafood' hoping to get a Lobster Thermidore in exchange for my humble spud. Instead I got a perfectly cooked potato. So why does it have the wretched buttons if it can’t even tell I’m lying to it?

Having little press-pads to stab at gives us the illusion of being in control of the machinery, and thereby of our own destiny. It makes you feel clever knowing which buttons to press to use your phone for Goggling the capital of Bhutan while directing a cartoon-you through Myan ruins, summing up your boring day in 140 characters or less for the benefit of, well, no one, and looking up a recipe for Quinoa Cakes makes you feel clever.

Well sorry, but they can train monkeys to push buttons for food.

Meanwhile, life is becoming increasingly frustrating for those of us who lack the digital dexterity necessary to function in the digital age.

Consider television. It’s not just the three million channels or their extraordinarily banal programming; it’s getting the damn thing to operate at all. To watch the National I have to select from three different remote controls containing a total of 146 different stupid little buttons. I only need to press three of them to make it work, but which three? By the time I’ve figured it out that nice Peter Mansbridge has already buggered off home for his Ovaltine. Assuming he knows how to operate the bloody microwave of course.

Oh, and it’s Thimphu. The Capital of Bhutan. I Goggled it.

— GOG is who he is, so just you never mind.

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