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The tech rituals of 2016

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Weird ways we used our gadgets this year

Getting faster phones, better cameras, and marginally less functional laptops each year isn't the only way technology transforms our lives. Our habits around that technology grow and evolve right alongside those gigabytes and gigaflops. So we decided to rank some of our favorite and favorite-to-hate-on tech rituals of this year and see what's dying out, what might be sticking around, and what's new on the horizon of weird ways humans approach technology.

Downswing

  • Typing the letter "f" in chrome and having it autocomplete to FiveThirtyEight’s Polls-plus forecast.
  • Calling mom for her cable credentials so you can watch Game of Thrones.
  • Making sure your iPhone doesn't drop to 30% battery because it will crash.
  • Sliding to unlock your phone and then remembering that your phone doesn't slide to unlock anymore.
  • Nose-touching your smartwatch to dismiss a notification.
  • Replying to emails from your dad with a Snopes link.
  • Telling anyone who asks to just buy a MacBook Air.
  • Going out on ill-advised late-night walks to hunt down Pokémon.

Too close to call

  • Solving every Bluetooth issue by forgetting and re-pairing.
  • Cancelling your Tidal subscription again.
  • Picking a new app because your favorite got acquihired and abandoned.
  • Enhancing text messages with lasers.
  • Giving up and buying the movie because it's not streaming or rentable yet.
  • Selecting text while you read and accidentally clicking on the share button that pops up every time.
  • Not tipping your Uber driver and feeling bad about it.

Upswing

  • Using the same charger for your phone and laptop.
  • Checking to see if you have all your dongles before you leave the house.
  • Reposting Snapchat stories to Instagram.
  • Buying sticker packs for all four messaging apps you use every day.
  • Asking Alexa about the weather in a hotel room and then realizing she's not there.
  • Having your parents yell at Alexa instead of you.
  • Charging seven different devices every night because you love wearables and the internet of things.

#whatayear

What 2017 could bring

  • Tech journalists make jokes about headphone dongles constantly, but everybody laughs, favorites, and retweets every time.
  • #DDoSLife
  • Reposting Instagram stories to Snapchat.
  • Charging your laptop with your phone.
  • Charging your phone with dreams and hopes and fears.
  • Mourning your favorite pet who was killed by delivery drone.
  • Riding with your favorite pet in a self-driving Uber to the animal hospital, where it’s resuscitated and actually totally fine!