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Wow, what an app. Thanks to Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

Definitely not ‘appy, Jan

EXCUSE the aspirated headline. My apparent descent into Cockney lingo has its reasons.

As does the punning use of this Australian phrase that was rapidly popularised after being given birth by a Telstra television ad in 2002.

As explained by the Urban Dictionary, it is now used when someone “is pissed off” at another person, who doesn’t necessarily need to be called Jan, for “stuffing up in a stupid way”.  Irritation and annoyance are the usual results of such actions

Which is why I state I am not only far from ‘appy; I am greatly un’appy. Regularly irritated and annoyed. Or, as the UD puts it, pissed off.

The cause is the daily deluge of apps.

The  word alone  is ghastly enough to set teeth on edge and hackles rising. Another addition to the lexicon of needlessly abbreviated words designed for a world where language has been reduced to a shorthand of grunts, symbols and acronyms.

Apps have become the go-to panacea for dealing with customer contact. They are the escape route for a corporate and business world determined  to distance itself even further from its customers and clients than is already achieved by the impenetrable walls of their call centres.

Their default response to queries and problems is, “Download the app.”

Not, “How can we help you?”

Utilities, banks, help-lines, service centres, consultants, retailers large and small, hospitality, technicians, knowledge banks,  and all others who depend for their existence on clients and customers.

On top of which there are those other apps promoted as essential enhancers of all aspects of daily life. Must haves, we are told. Which they clearly are not.

Today, f’rinstance, I am asked to download an app to be better able to order a coffee and muffin – a once simple spoken request now extended, impersonalised and complicated by technology.

Another demanded to be installed so that I am better able to “communicate” with my local GP surgery. Goodbye bedside manner and assessment of one’s health by a professional’s look and touch. In their place, diagnosis by app.

Yesterday I was expected to download an app to order a pack of cleaning tablets for my coffee machine; a formerly basic “You sell? I buy” exchange of product and money now  entailed completing a needlessly lengthy application form and extensive revelations of one’s personal details. Too much information, as the phrase goes; demanded without reason.

As a result, my details are now out there to be sold on and added to buyers of mailing lists over which I have no control. And people wonder why they get junk mail, spam and phishing.

Somehow even this un’appy user of technology has amassed several phone screens of minuscule symbols by which I am supposed to guess their origins and purpose. Installed reluctantly, deemed essential at the time and rarely used since.

A coach company’s app to enable a one-time transfer from a railway station to ….. where was it? Long forgotten.

Another supposed to induce restful sleep that left me wild-eyed and staring at the ceiling in the wee small hours of the night. If only those whales and dolphins would shut up; the waves stop lapping at the shore.

So many apps, their purpose forgotten and unknown without further delving. To delete them is another futile and irritating exercise.

Most pernicious of all are those apps sneaked into one’s device by rapacious betting firms; addiction at a finger’s tap. A free bet today, penury tomorrow.

Numerous apps allied to addictive “games”. Pursuits that are openly aimed at the hordes of young people hiding away in darkened rooms and immersed in fast-moving shoot ’em up rivalries that demand top-up payments to keep the action flowing.

Only small payments. Petty cash. Or so it seems at the time. But the credit card account (usually paid by unaware parents) tells a different story. Debts rapidly incurred of hundreds, thousands even. Simply for being seduced by an app with a smiley face.

Like those thousands of lockdown victims who succumbed to the lures of the health and fitness industry shouting the merits of innumerable apps promising antidotes to the inertia, weight gains and swelling girths of slothful shielding.

How many are still peering at apps  while leaping around their lounge rooms, hoisting weights, trying to keep up with professional gym junkies or maintain pace set by over-priced running and rowing machines?

Joe Wicks? Who?

And today I find the menace of the appalling app has taken a turn for the worse. Something called a Q code. Without which, reporting Covid self-testing results means facing yet more wasted time providing information the NHS already possesses several times over.

A Q code is another imperative if one wants to be deemed fit and proper to go about their daily business.

One more gizmo that has to be downloaded. Wasting, not saving, yet more time while  further expanding the ranks of those with access to all one’s essential details.

And taken up without thought or hesitation by an eyes-down generation whose entire world exists behind the screen of a mobile phone. That same generation so quick to shout and protest about loss of privacy.

You want all my personal details? Sure, no worries. Quite ‘appy with that. Might as well provide my bank details and CVV while we’re at it …

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