Thursday, August 5, 2010

Confession of a Luddite

Down in the right hand corner of this blog is a little box of text about me entitled, “Schizophrenic Luddite”.
You may question that description. After all, someone who has a website and a blog and uses email on a daily basis cannot possibly be a Luddite.


The word “Luddite” describes a person ‘who is opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.’ That’s me … selectively.

Anyone who writes anything has to love computers. Remember typewriters and carbon paper and whiteout and the tedious agony of revisions? All gone. God bless computers.

And research? The hours spent in libraries, searching card catalogues and dusty shelves for the specific, tiny reference crucial to whatever point you were making … gone. Or you’re zooming along with a powerful essay but all of a sudden you cannot remember the years when telephones became commonly used. Another trip to the library? Nope. Just a simple Internet search and there’s your answer. Hallelujah.

And email allows you to share news and thoughts and sympathy – or whatever you want to share - knowing that your message will be read at the recipient’s convenience and never cause them to leap naked from a warm bath in response to a ringing telephone or doorbell.

Websites and blogs are canvasses on which you can create a picture of who you are and how you think and what you write.

These are good things. I embrace them. When I called myself a Schizophrenic Luddite, I was acknowledging that I did indeed appreciate the many benefits of certain technologies ... HOWEVER I regard others with considerable trepidation … and awesome resistance.

Like cell phones. Lured by popular culture and the omnipresence of perfectly intelligent people walking around holding one hand over an ear while talking into space, I actually purchased a cell phone. Last October.

It sat in its box nine months. I knew it was there but I didn’t want to use it. I wanted to restrict my electronic (or whatever) communication. Keep it confined to my home/office. I did not want to sit at restaurant ignoring a companion in order to answer a call from someone else. Or any of that kind of thing.

But then I planned a trip the components of which required mobile communications. So I asked my 14-year-old grand niece to show me cell phone basics. And this July I actually used the thing. And I probably will again.

And someday, perhaps, I will master Facebook, and iPods, and even Blackberries or whatever other device someone somewhere – probably in California – is probably creating at this very moment.


One or two things at a time. With great reluctance.

Sincerely yours, the Schizophrenic Luddite.

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