We can safely say that men, more than women, are more susceptible to being technological gasbags, for there is something masculine about bragging about having the most potent technological gadgetry available, especially those gizmos that can be clipped around the lap or crotch area. Men like to clutter their crotch with cell phones, pagers, personal organizers, MP3 players. The male lap is a now a hive of activity, none sexual, to the point that when it comes to sex, the technological gasbag is stimulated by showing off his new cell phone camera since he is accustomed to using artifice as a demonstration of masculine strength. This gasbag is also less potent biologically and would rather demonstrate his potency by utilizing the contraptions that crowd his lap area, his 60-gig iPod, his Personal Data Assistant or his handheld GPS satellite tracking system. The latter device allows him to boast to strangers that he is “triangulating” signals and makes him feel like he is tracking a spy or a terrorist on some TV crime show when in fact he is simply monitoring the whereabouts of a pizza-delivery truck that is fifteen minutes late to his office.
It should be noted that the technological gasbag’s propensity for cluttering his lap with electric gadgets generates heat, which is deadly to human sperm, so the technophile essentially negates his reproductive abilities in several ways, not the least of which is the sperm bake that is going on in his testicles on a daily basis. The male body was not designed for all these gadgets hanging on a man’s crotch like electric talons. Biologically speaking, the scrotum was designed to hang below savage loincloths and stay cool, but now it is bound up in jock straps, athletic underwear, tight corduroy jeans, and cups of hot coffee. Combine all these factors with the clipped-on cell phones, pagers, and organizers around the crotch area and over time the technological gasbag’s testes shrivel and make him even more dependent on technologically impressive phallic substitutes.
Creating a technological façade to conceal one’s inadequacies is nothing new. Many years ago the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote that Americans are a primitive people camouflaged behind their latest inventions. What Gasset might have added is that many Americans aren’t really hiding behind their inventions at all. Instead, they are on the forefront as they try to persuade the world that these “inventions” are mankind’s salvation. The promoters of new gadgetry are, in other words, technological gasbags, true believers in the idea that we can indeed build an indestructible titanium Tower of Babel and be like the gods.
We’ve already witnessed the Technological Crotch Monger who uses gadgets to aggrandize his masculine potency. Another common type of technological gasbag is the Troubleshooter who does a house call when your computer is on the fritz. He is typically the friend of your brother’s wife’s sister’s cousin’s friend. He is typically in his thirties or forties, is fifty pounds overweight, has never had a girlfriend, has never had a real job, and still lives with his mother. You manage to contact him because you are too cheap to have your computer serviced through a reputable company. You’ve been promised that the Troubleshooter is a “real bargain” and actually knows more about computers than the legitimate companies. But as soon as this gasbag arrives at your home and dismantles your computer, you are disavowed of these notions and a sick feeling settles in your stomach. The first thing you will notice is that he is lonely and is in no rush to return to Mother’s. He will therefore prolong his stay at your house unnecessarily, for over twelve hours, sometimes several days, as he scans for viruses, changes modem scripts, checks and resets IP addresses, formats and re-formats disks, and deletes supposedly conflicting software packages. For show, every twenty minutes or so this gasbag will exclaim, “Ah-ha—there’s your problem.” These minor updates and repairs, combined with dozens of “necessary” shutdowns and restarts, will extend the Troubleshooter’s stay at your home to the point that you feel obliged to have him sit with your family at dinner. Needless to say, his hygiene and table manners are so horrendous that you and your family will suffer from lost appetites as you watch this heavy-breathing man wolf down most of your casserole and after-dinner pie, ice cream, and coffee.
After dinner when you’re tired and wish he would go home, he feels “refreshed” and is ready to tackle your computer crisis with renewed vigor. Bear in mind this Troubleshooter is so lonely that it is in his interest to actually sabotage your computer in order to justify his staying longer. The more cunning of these Troubleshooters can embed elusive viruses and malware into your hard-drive so that you will forever be beholden to their “services.”
I have known people who have hired these Troubleshooters in the interest of saving money and are, a year later, still not even half-way done with their project. Aside from the unbearable aggravation, when you factor in all the coffee, donuts, and dinners that the Troubleshooter mooches off you, you actually lose money in these “build-your-own” arrangements.
We can sympathize with those who try to save money while trying to keep their computers up-to-date since the computer industry is hell-bent on making our computers and software systems obsolete within six months, a condition that keeps gouging our checking accounts. Feeling constantly behind in our software systems, constantly being harassed by our operating system to conduct software updates, always downloading patches to repel viruses and worms, forever afraid that we have to engage in these tedious tasks because our “whole life” is on our computer, we feel that our computer management is a re-dramatization of the Myth of Sisyphus--one step ahead, three steps backwards.