Twelve years ago it was easy to hide from my boss. He couldn’t find me after work unless he was psychic, because I didn’t have a damned cell phone. Once I got a mobile phone, it was the same as being at work all the time. Seriously, I felt like a Domino’s Pizza franchise. But whenever my boss interrupted my mom’s birthday party or a dinner that I hoped would lead to sex, he could only talk. He couldn’t actually give me any work to do right then.
Four years ago I bought an iPhone, even though I knew it was a stupid thing to do. It was so slick and cool and sexy and fun. I had no more will to resist than a turnip on rufies. But once I clasped my iPhone in my hand, my boss was not limited to making me talk about work at inconvenient times. Now he could send me actual work whenever he wanted and expect me to do that work right away. That’s a lot to pay for the ability to receive spam wherever you go, play solitaire on the toilet, and wave your iPhone around like a lightsaber. But I accepted that I’d made that bargain with the Great Satan Apple, and in return I started looking for some neat apps like flashlights and restaurant finders. And despite the fact that the iPhone had wrecked my personal life, I used it so much that I began wishing I could pay some corrupt doctor to graft the thing onto my forearm. I didn’t even care that it would make me look like a cyborg and might make Sheldon Cooper die from envy.
I swore I’d never buy an iPad. I mean, what the hell? It doesn’t make phone calls, and it’s not a full computer, so what good is it? I bought one last year, and I have no idea how it happened. I just remember walking out of Best Buy with the box in my hand. Again, turnip on rufies. Within a week I felt despondent that I’d lived my life without an iPad up to that point. Now if I allow my iPad to get more than twenty feet away from me I begin weeping.
This is all so sick. And I blame it on the apps, those tiny bits of software that make my iPhone and iPad do stuff. Sometimes that stuff is fun or useful, like IMDB, or Angry Birds, or the Amazon app that lets you spend more money faster because you don’t have to be at a computer. But for every cool app there are 10,000 that are hacked-together, shit-sucking wastes of irreplaceable minutes that we could have spent on something valuable like refinishing furniture or cooking a pie. For example, I have several apps that turn my phone into a $400 whoopee cushion, including Farts-a-Lot, Wet Fart Machine, Fart Knocker, Jedi Mind Fart, and Farts Like an Egyptian.
If I’m going to accept being a minion of Apple Darkness, I demand superlative apps that provide far greater value than we have seen to this point. I mean astounding value. I want apps that will change my life. I now challenge the app development community to give us apps like these:
Dumbass Firewall: You talk, you text, and you email using your phone and tablet. You can communicate faster and to more people than ever before. Within seconds you can tell dozens or hundreds of people that you’re a thoughtless, grunting twit, with your head so far up your ass you can smell your pancreas. This app will save you from your stupidity in real time by screening every outgoing scrap of voice and text for moronic and inflammatory statements that could get you beaten up, divorced, or imprisoned. The app will dump these chunks of stupid-as-hell into a folder for you to review when you calm down or sober up.
Perky Pickup Lines: Almost no person on Earth is good at walking up to an attractive stranger and saying something that’s not idiotic. There may have been a few, but I’m certain their friends soon killed them. So, every unattached person can use an app that analyzes the situation and provides a great pickup line. Desperate single people will no longer have to say things like, “What time do you have to get back to the insane asylum, ‘cause I’m crazy about you,” or, “Do you have a job?” to make an impression. For an extra 99 cents you could install the add-on Great Go The Hell Away Lines, providing the perfect words to crush some pushy asshole’s ego down to the size of a carbon atom.
Calorie Savant: The App Store bulges with apps to count, record, identify, estimate, and plan calories for every item a human can eat without dying. They all suck. They suck because they exist in an idealized world in which every day is under control and every meal is a rational transaction between you and a baby spinach salad. Calorie Savant would consider the day’s events and the proximity of various foods in providing calorie estimates. You may have planned to eat a 200 calorie granola bar after work, but Calorie Savant would recognize that you got a lousy performance review and that jerk in Purchasing hit on you again, so it dumps the granola bar from its plans and substitutes that 3,200 calorie bag of Double Stuff Oreos on the top shelf. Accurate information is the key to victory.
Blowhard Deactivator: Mobile devices keep you connected at all times. Unfortunately, you’re connected to people, and more unfortunately, some of those people are blowhards. You’re familiar with blowhards—those folk who pound out their political, religious, and moral opinions across the social bandwidth, trying to shout down all dissent, calling everybody ignorant lackeys, and ruining the fun for everyone else. Blowhard Deactivator would analyze the blowhard’s latest blaring manifesto and scan the internet for no less than 20 dissenting sources, then drop those links onto the offender like the firebombing of Dresden. For 99 cents you could install an add-on that tracks whatever the blowhard writes on Wikipedia and then automatically erases the dolt’s moronic rants behind him.
Fair Tip: This app is more of a public service than a utility, but it will help you in the end. Tip calculators seem pretty simple. In fact, if we weren’t a nation of math cretins, we wouldn’t need this kind of app. The problem is that these apps let people pick the tip percentage, and people haven’t learned that 12% is a crappy tip for someone who brought you a nice bowl of chili and makes a whopping $3.00 an hour. In fact, 12% is the kind of tip that condemns you to hell for being a stingy bastard. The Fair Tip app would assume that 20% is the standard tip, and for every point you dial it lower, the actual tip percentage would be cranked up one point. If you select 12%, then Fair Tip will secretly calculate the tip at 28%. If you’re like most people you’ll never catch on. If you do catch on and find some other way to calculate your crappy 12% tip, then I guess you’ll just have to go to hell.
Scrubbing Bubbles: All of us have made poor decisions. Our poor decisions generally don’t last forever, since people tend to forget or even die after a while, which resolves the situation nicely. But poor decisions made on the internet do not go away. That sloppy, ranting, tequila-fueled love poem you wrote to that actress who was hot five years ago but you can’t stand now—it’s archived on LiveJournal. Your heavy metal manifesto from your anarchist phase is still on YouTube. And that picture of you hanging upside down and naked on the front door of the First Baptist Church? Your potential employers at The Children’s Miracle Network are going to love it. You need Scrubbing Bubbles, the app that scours the internet for every single mention of your foolish self and annihilates it as if it were flushed down a toilet connected to a black hole. After this app has done its work, no one who’s not in your physical presence will believe that you ever lived.
There’s the challenge, app-writers. Make all this connectivity worth the pain. I want to see some prototypes in two months. I have to go now—while I was writing this I got a voice mail, three texts, and an email with five attachments from my boss.