I can handle a little criticism. Actually, I’ve been writing for newspapers for more than 23 years, so I can handle a LOT of criticism. I’ve been compared to everything from Mark Twain to dog poopee and all that’s in between, with most of that in-between stuff learning toward the dog poopee end of the equation.
I’ve actually kept a lot of the hate mail I’ve received, and it brings a smile to my face. I’ve also gotten a lot of letters from folks who like me, but I don’t put a lot of stock in fan mail. Besides, being the favorite writer of inmates in the South Georgia Asylum for Deranged Serial Killers’ reading class isn’t exactly a high honor.
I got plenty of nagging from my family. My dad used to inspect the lawn after I mowed it, and if he found one blade of grass that had been missed, I’d have to mow the entire yard again. He also swears he doesn’t recall doing this and criticizes me for overuse of hyperbole.
My teachers nagged me about things like studying, doing my homework, staying awake in class and all those kinds of things I really wasn’t into from age 5 to 41. Cops nagged me about driving too fast and allegedly running over mailboxes, flower beds and Erma Lou Jenkins. My doctor nags me because I consider “grease” a food group. Even bill collectors nag me about a $75 debt I paid three weeks ago.
And now that I’m getting married on the beach in about a month, the nagging has hit fever-pitch. No, not from my fiancee. Not even from a human. And that’s the problem.
I don’t particularly like nagging from humans, but I am getting really fed up with nagging from electronic devices. The latest to nag me is my phone. Because I’ve got to be in shape (besides oval) when I get married, I need to lose one or two or 18 pounds. And I found a wonderful free app that helps track the calories I take in and the calorie I occasionally or accidentally burn.
Now, my phone is beeping at me and asking me if I entered my calories from breakfast and lunch, and it’s flashing red numbers at me when I screw up. Nag nag nag.
It’s just the latest in a long line of electronic nagging. The first electronic nagging I really experienced was in Columbus at the curve on Victory Drive near Port Columbus where the flashing lights tell you that you’re going too fast for the curve. They flash constantly because every single person exceeds that speed. Of course, the sign is lying because all cars ignore it but don’t go rolling off the curve and all the way over to the Chattahoochee River. Now anytime I see a flashing caution sign, I merely consider it a nagging suggestion and not a warning that I’m about to die.
And the electronic nagging extends to the telephone, when robocalls tell me how to save money on car insurance or ask me to vote for somebody because their opponent hates old ladies, puppy dogs and babies. And the washing machine screeches when it thinks I should move the clothes to the dryer. And the alarm clock blares at me because it thinks six hours of sleep is plenty. And the lady on my GPS tersely orders me to turn left, turn right, go straight and I’m pretty sure she sighs every time she has to recalculate when I miss turns she thought were better routes. And the fast-food worker with the electronic headset asks if I want fries with my order.
Of course, if I hadn’t spent all these years responding, “Well, yes! Duh!” to that last bit of nagging then I might not need that nagging dieting app for my phone right now.
Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.