Column: Men and their electronic gadgets

I just started dating a Palm Pilot.

I seriously think that my new boyfriend, whom I will call “Bob,” has a problem with feeling left behind in a technological tidal wave and be passed over by all humanity if he doesn’t keep up.

If there was a program like Alcoholics Anonymous for technological nerds, I would sign him up in a heartbeat just to save his soul from being neutralized by too much exposure to the free agents emitted by his Palm Pilot and computer.

Maybe I just don’t understand the obsession men have with electronic gadgets. Why must men constantly upgrade their machinery to a newer version? What sense does it make when the technology being bought is far beyond anything the man will ever need in his life?

For instance, Bob carries a cell phone that was just upgraded yesterday to include e-mail so that (and I quote) his friends and I can “all find me whenever they need to.”

He is also planning to upgrade his computer because his sister’s machine is more powerful than the one he currently has.

For further evidence, I turn to my family. My father installed cable television for the first time in his life this year because he felt he was “missing out” on all of the quality programming in the world.

He installed the cable through the same provider for RoadRunner because he also felt that his previous Internet service was not fast enough. Though I’ve no idea how he knew that since he never used the Net or checked his e-mail in the first place, nor does he to this day.

To make matters worse, every time I see either my boyfriend or my dad, they inundate me with information about whatever they just bought.

“Hey, Michelle! Check out this new phone! It sends and receives e-mail, geocentrically positions satellites, flies planes, singlehandedly organizes Britain’s Parliament and all while monitoring Dick Cheney’s pacemaker!”

“Yeah, Bob. That’s great, but can it make a phone call?”

“I think …”

I suppose technology is a good thing, but why guys obsess and compete with one another to have the best is beyond me. I’ve always been happy with my horse-drawn carriage, pigeon and ink well. I also fail to see the attraction of walking around with an electronic appendage transferring games that blow up Canadians (yes, there’s a game that does this) or trading one-liners with co-workers and friends who also have too much time on their hands.

On the other hand, I may just buy a Palm Pilot to see for myself how my life can be dramatically improved through the wonderful world of electronic gadgetry.

Maybe, with such an instrument, I could put my hectic life on track and plan my busy days and weeks filled with working at the newspaper, being a teaching assistant and finding time to transfer communicative data with Bob.

After all, Bob insists I would become like him and be much more organized – as evidenced by his shrewd plan to organize his Monday to run errands for his mother and meet me 25 minutes late for breakfast.

But hey, maybe he has a point – if I’d had a cell phone with me I’d have probably called him on my way home telling him to “pencil me in” for dinner in a week. I figure that would have given him enough time to work out the bugs and actually figure out what it is that he bought.

– Michelle Demeter is a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies and is The Oracle’s news editor.