Neo-Luddites vs those plugged into The Matrix

It’s been 6 months since I last blogged here, purely out of nothing to add. Early on I once stated that I’d cease blogging but changed my mind that I’d do it when I felt like it, and finally I feel like it. It might be late or soon when I post here again. But this blog will never close.

The reason why I’m writing is almost ironic because it’s a little rant at technology. I was reading a few articles predicting the emergence of ‘neo-Luddites’ in 2015 (use your search engine on that term to find one of many articles), and though I don’t think it’s going to be a significant movement I would like it if it came true.

If you’re not going to look up neo-Luddites, basically these are people who are willingly going to avoid or drastically minimise their use of technology as a backlash to an ad-centric, app driven, social networking gadget-internet environment. These are likely going to be going to be kids, presumably because teenagers born in the last decade or so don’t remember a time without at least dial-up internet and PCs and find it something to escape from, whereas my generation and older found computing magnetising because we grew up at a time when the pocket calculator was pretty much one of the most advanced gadgets you could carry with you.

Though there are reasons to love the internet because it makes communication very easy – indeed, you can find old friends and make new ones – and it appeals to our need of instant information and entertainment, I also find it slightly depressing now. Maybe not the internet per se, more the smartphone.

With a smartphone you have a pretty powerful computer with you all the time. On my ‘dumbphones’ I never made very many calls and as texts cost 10p a message I wouldn’t send very many. It was just a useful thing to have. But now very cheap mobile data, home broadband and WiFi hotspots mean you can contact, learn and be entertained any time. Whereas prior to the smartphone and tablet you would make time to sit in front of your PC or laptop for a bit and once you turned it off you’re pretty much done for the day (assuming a session or two a day).

No one forces one to have a smartphone, but even decent ones are pretty cheap now; mobile data packages can be dirt cheap and their use almost makes them mandatory because you can do things very easily like mobile banking, restaurant rewards or checking in at an airport. So, it’s a drug that you like because it can be useful.

I used to have a dedicated MP3 player but now I just listen on my phone, but because the phone is almost always online I can be driven awake longer by the appeal of net usage too. I find it hard to restrain myself.

As much as I like communicating with people I’m irritated by typing too much on an on-screen keyboard, so my replies are usually quite small, unless I’m at a real keyboard doing an email (or blogging).

Social networking can be fun (I’m restrained to one) but sometimes it can be bring out the worst in everyone and there is a deluge of pointless content just for the sake of sharing – essentially because the technology and services aren’t that old, so it can be appealing to share anything and everything (of course, I shouldn’t judge as what I write here can be criticised the same way). I think people are also getting more alert about sharing too much about themselves online.

I was a bit happier (not to fish for sympathy or to get counselling) when technology was rudimentary enough so as not to sufficiently change interaction with people and services. There are obvious conveniences which is a plus, but like those who fear technology, those who purposely avoid it can still get by. Possibly they feel a bit more human.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a neo-Luddite but I’m going to silently salute people who don’t whip out their smartphone or tablet in public, because they haven’t got one.