I’d like to be a Luddite

…she says, while typing away on her blog, on a laptop, connected to wi-fi, with her Android cellphone and her Kindle Fire sitting next to her.

Seriously though, I think my world was a happier place before I became so “connected” with it. I don’t own a television. For some reason, modern Americans think that’s strange and often give me recommendations on the best kind to buy when I say I don’t own one. I don’t want one. When my last television died, back in 2007, I got rid of it and never replaced it. I’ve never missed it.  I own a Kindle for reasons of convenience; it’s easier to carry a thousand books on it than to have them in paper and binding. That’s not to say that I don’t like books, I have boxes of books that I have carefully transported through at least a dozen homes, all the way across country and back, and they are stored more securely than some people store their diamonds.

Remember back when we were kids? We rode our bicycles around the neighborhood – without helmets – and we played with our friends outside, making up games with balls and sticks, until the lights came on and we went home to dinner. I remember being 10 and walking to school by myself, and no one thought it was strange. Now, as the mother of an eleven year old boy, I am torn between wanting to give him the freedom to walk home by himself and worrying about strangers abducting him. This is why I hate technology. It’s so easy now to hop on the internet and read about child abductions all over the country (or the world) and think that it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen to your own child, so you must protect them. And yes, we must protect our children, but we must also allow them to be children. We want to lock them securely behind doors to keep strangers away, and then complain that we have an obesity problem because kids these days would rather sit inside and play computer games than run around with their friends outside.

My son is not fat by any means. I’m not saying that as an overprotective mother, he’s inherited my metabolism and seems to be able to eat an entire horse without gaining a pound. I was the same way when I was young. The last time I saw him was in July, for his birthday, and one of the things he wanted to do was go hiking, which I was more than happy to do, because I enjoy being outdoors and moving around. We went to a nearby hiking spot and settled on a fairly flat 4 mile loop. Since this is Arizona, in July, I made sure that he was wearing a hat, had coated himself thoroughly in sunscreen, and had a full bottle of water to drink. Less than a mile in, he was done. He was too tired to continue, so we turned around and went back to the car. I was able to get him interested in an art museum after that, but it was a bit of a disappointment that a mile of hiking was too much exercise for him when I remember riding my bicycle for miles at his age.

Of course, this enforced resting of my knee is driving me insane with the desire to exercise, to move around, to do something other than stretches and strengthening moves and wearing this constricting brace that pinches after too long. I want to pull a Henry David Thoreau and walk out into the woods and live a life of purpose. I want to have a little shack for just me and my cat, heating it with wood that I cut with my own axe, and with water pumped from my own well, and living from sunrise to sundown, with candles for light instead of harsh electricity. Maybe there are still places like that in the world. If so, does anyone know where they are, so they can point me in the right direction?

Of course, I’d miss my car, but I wouldn’t miss my car payments, or dealing with car insurance and maintenance (although, to be honest, I actually love working on cars). I wouldn’t miss the sirens from the local fire station or the helicopters flying overhead. I wouldn’t miss watching people wandering around with their concentration so fully on their cell phones that they don’t see the world around them. I realized this about 10 years ago when I noticed that when I’m taking photos, I try to make sure there are no people in them. I take pictures of things; flowers, trees, sunsets and sunrises, mountain ranges, falling down buildings, and so on, but I try to frame my shots to keep the people out. I guess, subliminally, I was separating out the things I think are beautiful by removing the people. Considering that I have worked in customer service for most of my adult life, I don’t really like people very much.

There are individual people that I like, but as a group, I don’t like humans. I don’t like what we’ve become, as we crowd ourselves into cities and try to seem more important than we are. I think that’s part of why I hate San Diego so much. It’s too big, and it’s too crowded, and everyone is so centered on whatever they’re doing, they don’t notice how they inconvenience everyone around them. I’m guilty of it myself, sometimes. I try not to, but sometimes the technology creeps in when I don’t want it to. There has been more than one dinner where my date spent more time fiddling with his phone than talking or interacting with me. I can understand if you have an important job and it’s a necessity, but just texting with friends or checking on your facebook page while on a date is selfish and rude.

My 39th birthday is coming up in a week and a half, and I’m taking some time off from work to unwind (and also to allow some contemplation of whatever my knee surgeon says), and I’m thinking that it will be a good time to unplug for a while and detach myself from the digital world. Maybe I’ll take my cat on a vacation somewhere with a few good books to read. By candlelight.


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