Bad gadgets: Simple pleasures ruined by tech

How innovation has turned into a major irritation

Taking the gloss off some of life's more personal moments: T3 unveils the simple pleasures ruined by tech

On T3 we show you ways that tech can make your life easier and more pleasurable. But there’s a flip side to a life of greater ease and it’s that some of life’s simple pleasures die with the 'inconvenience' of yore. Just think of how supermarkets have killed local shops as an example.

Here’s our list of the soul-enriching moments that tech ended forever.

Epic gaming sessions

Pulling an all-nighter was essential if you wanted to complete computer games in the 16-bit generation. The alternative was to leave the console on all night - potentially burning down your house, as you should NEVER leave appliances on overnight - or completely lose your hard-earned progress in Streets of Rage 2. Where's the sense of achievement when you can constantly save your progress and go back to the same spot until you fluke your way past the final boss?

Finding taped treasure

How it was: nothing to watch on your four channels of telly? Time to hunt through the mountain of video tapes. This one has "Diana Wedding" scrawled on it in pencil; let's stick it in the machine anyway. Just wind it through a bit... Oh wait, what's this? The first third of Full Metal Jacket and half the first series of The Young Ones - result. Wait, it's gone all staticky and… Oh, it transpires someone has recorded over that with an Antiques Roadshow omnibus. Denied.

Getting a phone number

Ten treasured digits scrawled on a napkin, or in lippy on the back of your hand. Or not even written down, just remembered, Rain Man style. Or even, in the days before mobile phones, being confident enough to give her your house phone number and then anxiously guarding the phone all day in case she called. Those days are gone. "What's your name? I'll add you on Facebook." Romance is dead.

Instant win

Was there a greater pleasure than peeling back the label on your McDonald's fries to find you'd won an instantly redeemable Big Mac token, or finding a little blue bag containing a fiver in your salt & vinegar? Thanks to technology we get a 13-digit serial number you can text to a non-specific switchboard and if you're lucky, only "regular network charges apply". Where's the fun in that? On the plus side, visiting certain websites today does seem to guarantee a "You are visitor 1,000,000!!!! You totally win a iPad Touch!!!!! Click here!" message, so all is not quite lost...

Letting go

Facebook means bygones are never bygones. You're subjected to tagged pictures of your girlfriend and her ex looking loved up, constant misspelled status updates from the remedial school bullies who added YOU despite years of torment and the ghosts of those university haircuts, preserved forever.

Making a mix tape

Start with a belter, then take it up a notch, then slow it down for a number or two, then back in with a classic, followed by a couple of rarities, two more slow ones, then end on something short and instrumental so as to not risk running over to Side B. Ten songs down and it's only taken an hour of planning and 50 minutes of sitting by your stereo. All that's left is to create cover art for the cassette using Microsoft Paint. Yes, a stick man should be just the ticket… Nowadays, you just choose a tune and hit the Genius button.

Musical appreciation

We remember when everyone got to listen to a new album on the same day: the release day. Now we live in an era of leaked MP3 torrents, shorn of cover art and communal joy. There's not even any illicit thrill to hearing something early when everyone else in the world is doing the same. Plus all this modern music, it's rubbish really isn't it? It's just noise.

Picking the photos up

Was everyone looking the right way? Did the flash wash everything out? Before digital cameras, photography was a crap shoot. Now, three-inch LCD screens and limitless memory for photos have robbed us of the excitement of trundling to Boots to pick-up holiday snaps, then re-living the moments for the first time. Granted only about four of the 36 shots in those days weren't a picture of your thumb, but still..


Remember the days when you arranged to meet someone, safe in the knowledge that they were going to turn up on time? Those distant times before your friends and colleagues could excuse themselves with a text saying "Mate, I'm running half an hour late. Soz," just as you arrive. Were people perpetually late before the introduction of the short messaging service? No they weren't. It's not even like people have the excuse of "I got lost," these days, with Google Maps built into everything short of your kitchen toaster.


Technology is meant to make our lives easier, but it's now gone so far that we barely need to work anything out for ourselves any more. Calculators do arithmetic for us, till our brains shrink to the size of peas and we can no longer work out the price of a bottle of Evian and a sandwich. Shazam steals the pleasure of humming a song in our heads for days before finally finding out the name, while IMDb has ruined movie trivia forever. When was the last time you ever put up with having something on the tip of your tongue before succumbing to a quick Google search? When was the last time you turned off your satnav when you knew the route?