The Technologies We Love to Hate

Cell phones top the list of the most-despised technology.

By Zach Zorich|Saturday, May 29, 2004

Every year the Lemelson-MIT Program, a research organization within MIT’s School of Engineering, surveys Americans on issues related to technology. This year the program randomly asked 1,023 adults across the country to identify the invention they consider “most hated, yet one we can’t live without.” The results show that the intrusive, unreliable cell phone has edged out old annoyances like the buzzing alarm clock or the dull razor. Merton Flemings, the survey’s director, believes that people resent technologies they must adapt to quickly. “If you look back at the automobile or the TV, it took decades before they reached 50 percent market saturation. You only need to walk down the street to see how fast the cell phone has taken over,” he says. Yet in a separate part of the survey, 95 percent of adults agreed that inventions in general have improved their quality of life—regardless of the ringing that inevitably disrupts the most dramatic moment at the movies.

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