1. any of the textile workers opposed to mechanization who rioted and organized machine-breaking between 1811 and 1816.
2. any opponent of industrial change or innovation.
Obviously, the first definition doesn’t apply to me, but the second is right on point. I hate technology. I think smart phones are going to destroy our civilization. I think the internet is more viral than any one thing on it. I think it’s sad that we are forcing our children to excel at younger and younger ages.
I’m thinking of starting a group called Luddites Anonymous. In order to join, you must have a deep yearning for a time not so long ago when life wasn’t so complicated. You remember don’t you? Phones had cords attached to them. You had to balance your checkbook to know how much money you could spend. You turned a dial on a radio to listen to music. You carried cash.
Life is so complicated now. Just the other day, I decided to make a quick run to the grocery store. Oops, I beg your pardon. I made a quick run to Walmart, where I got groceries, but could have also furnished my entire house, gotten a manicure, and had my tires rotated if need be. Before leaving for Walmart, I made a short, anal-retentive list of what I needed. Then I logged onto my bank’s website to check my account balance. Next I packed the diaper bag with all my daughter’s essentials (diapers, wipes, toys, snacks, change of clothes) and packed my purse with my essentials (cell phone, coupons, keys, Advil) and headed with baby on hip to the car. While in Walmart, I was faced with some pretty tough questions. Should I buy the generic or name brand? Is there a difference? Is organic really worth the extra buck? If I only buy some things organic and some things not organic, will I still grow a second head and additional arm in twenty years? I could use an additional arm right now. Are free-range, grain fed chickens happier? Do their eggs taste better? Every chicken I’ve ever met was too stupid to know if they were pecking freely. Maybe if I finally broke down and bought a smart phone, I could look up the answers to these questions while in Walmart and save myself some trouble. Then again, Ariana would be graduating high school before I completed a shopping trip if that were the case.
It is a sad truth indeed that a smart phone can apply itself better than a person. There is an app for everything, thus negating the need to learn anything. Our society is creating a new generation of children who do not possess important basic skills. Children today don’t know their own phone numbers. They can’t read time on a standard clock. They can’t use a map. They don’t know how to write a personal or business letter. They can’t communicate without using abbreviations born of the instant messaging generation. OMG! That’s not English!
Most frustrating of all, children today can’t occupy themselves without something prompting them. Toys marked for six month olds teach numbers and colors. Too many of my daughter’s toys talk. (By the way, her favorite toy is the plain, low-tech rings on a pole.) I see toddlers playing with their parents’ phones in Walmart all the time. Parenting? Teaching self-control? There’s an app for that! My father owned one the first cell phones twenty-some years ago and I wasn’t allowed to breathe on it, let alone touch it. It cost over a dollar a minute after all. As a child, I never had a Nintendo, Atari, Sega, PlayStation, etc. Forget it. I was lucky I got to watch TV. I heard the “rot your brain” speech plenty.
I would be lying if I said that technology is not useful and fun in moderation. I have a cell phone. It isn’t smart. I don’t use it to access the internet. I rarely call 411. It really is just a phone that I use to call people and occasionally take a picture if my daughter is doing something particularly cute. The first video game system I ever owned, I bought three years ago. I play it once in a while. It’s a fun thing to do when family visits. I have cable television and a laptop computer as well. Obviously, I am not shunning technology completely.
What I really long for is respect for simplicity. I don’t want to get a strange look because I refuse to spend a lot of money on a small breakable object my toddler could easily flush down a toilet given the chance. I don’t want to be patronized because I find novelty in turning the pages of a book or newspaper rather than reading from a screen. I don’t want my daughter to be ostracized by her friends in ten years because she is the only one with a parent that limits her exposure to television and the internet. I don’t want her to grow up feeling deprived because I wouldn’t let her have a cell phone in the fifth grade.
I want my daughter to grow up with a vivid imagination realized in toys she manipulates. I want to attend a tea party with Mr. Bear and Mrs. Frog, followed by building a city of wooden blocks, subsequently destroyed by a sudden earth quake and built again. I want to hang pictures on the refrigerator that she drew or painted herself, no computer program necessary. Then, if she decides to become a robotics engineer, so be it.