Mary-ed Life

Thoughts on love, marriage, children, and random trivia.

Luddites Anonymous or the Rant About Technology Destroying Life as We Know It

3 Comments

Luddite:

noun

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.

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Author: maryedlife

I'm a neurotic stay-at-home-mom, formerly a middle school English teacher, trying to survive parenthood. I am married to a soldier, Dale, and we have two daughters, Ariana and Lorien.

3 thoughts on “Luddites Anonymous or the Rant About Technology Destroying Life as We Know It

  1. I love your commentary, Mar. Keep it up! Love, DAD

  2. I like this post. I don’t think you’re entirely off the mark, but don’t forget that even though technology sometimes can stunt growth, it’s also the way our world is moving. To deny access to technology could ultimately end up hurting kids as they get into schools where there’s a heavy push to learn to use computers in kindergarten and who are expected to know how to type as well as print (and in many cases, in lieu of cursive).

    That being said, I homeschooled my daughter for first grade this past year and will likely do the same for my son when he reaches that age. This past year I taught her to read chapter books independently, map skills (to the point where when we went to DC she was planning our routes to our various destinations for the Metro based on the maps), can tell time on an analog clock, the difference between to, too, and two. I did supplement her math curricula with an online program but she’s never touched a calculator – and will not do so until she can actually do all those math sequences in her head or on paper.

    When we drove cross-country last month we had DVD players installed in the car to help keep our kids occupied (it was a 4000 mile, 65 hour round-trip), but when I had to take that privilege away due to poor behavior they were just as content listening to books on CD for the three day journey home. (They’re also not allowed to watch movies in the car for any one-way trip shorter than 90 minutes.)

    I do have a smartphone, and I do have age-appropriate apps on it for each of my kids. And while I let them play from time to time, I refuse to let them play with it at will – it’s a treat. Yes, my mom taught her to text last month, and yes, we caught her actively searching for the apostrophe button to add to the word “it’s” as in, “it is”.

    Our family has a Wii, which we play on occasion. We also have a large backyard with a play set; I have chopsticks that they use as magic wands, and a turkey baster that has never been used as such because it’s been repurposed for every other imaginable play use. We have 20 times more books than toys in our house, and the toys they have largely require the use of imagination rather than the ability to press a button to hear music. My son is actually MORE content playing with his small stuffed hamster that doesn’t do anything than the Buzz Lightyear extendable, talking wing-pack my in-laws insisted he have for Christmas last year.

    I believe as with everything else, a balance needs to be struck between the world we grew up in and the world our children will. I really don’t think wanting a child to grow up to have particular life skills means excluding others that will be equally important. It’s figuring out how to strike that balance in a way that fits our needs and parenting style, and adjusting accordingly when it isn’t working.

  3. I totally agree that a balance is very important. Still, I can’t help watching TLC specials on Amish society and feeling a little jealous.

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