Confessions of a Modern Luddite

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with technology. It’s not that I dislike it on principle. I just dislike the perception that I can’t get away from it. Take video screens, for example. Half the restaurants where I might go for a late dinner have one or more TV sets blaring at me. They’re mounted in the hallways of shopping malls. On the seat backs of charter buses and many cars. They’re mounted above the pumps at self-serve gas stations.  In short, they’re everywhere.

Well, almost everywhere. I haven’t had television in my home in more than ten years. It’s not just that I don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV. I don’t even have an off-air antenna.  And I don’t do Netflix, or Hulu, or any of the other streaming services. So I’ve never ever seen American Idol, or Dancing With the Stars, or Lost, or Game of Thrones, or whatever else people fill their evenings with these days. And that’s simply because I decided long ago that I’d prefer to live a real life myself rather than sit on my couch watching actors portray an imaginary one. If you have a TV, I’m not dissing you for it. It’s just not for me.

I came across this spoken word presentation on Facebook:  It’s a cool message, cleverly delivered.

It’s always surprising to see how big a problem the “wired” lifestyle is for some people. Maybe I’m just lucky that I never fully bought into it.  Yes, I have a Facebook account. And I’m peripherally involved in Linked In. I don’t do Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other ones. I also don’t Skype, and I rarely text, except perhaps to tell someone I’m running late for an appointment.

I’m definitely not one of those who will spend four years of his life looking down at a phone.  Ninety percent of my cell phone use is for business, and I routinely turn it off after business hours. If you call me, you’ll get voicemail.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have a phone for my convenience, not the convenience of anybody and everybody who wants the power to reach out and interrupt me at will. Those images of people checking their phones over dinner with another person? That’s just rude. Would they read a newspaper or a magazine in the same circumstances?

I do wonder about people who find time to locate and share twenty five videos and other links per day on social media.   And I don’t mean that in a “look at all the lost productivity” kind of way, although…look at all the lost productivity! My main issue is that the tactile immediacy of interaction with the natural world is just hands-down more satisfying than any cyber-substitution.

My MMA instructor is a serious outdoorsman. From him I’m learning to improve my map and compass skills, as well as learning about edible plants, and numerous tricks of the survivalist trade. There is nothing online that compares with fresh air, sunshine, and a lunch of wild berries and pine needle tea (more vitamin C than an orange!). I still have a lot to learn. But I love the idea that one day soon I could park the car by the side of the road and walk off into the wilderness and be fine.

My next door neighbor is a fishing enthusiast. He knows all the great trout fishing spots in the area that don’t get crowded. I’m going to get him to show me just a few.

Another buddy is an automotive technician turned engineering student. I hang out with him and work on my car. My daily driver is twenty-three years old. Driving a new car requires only money. Driving an old one without spending a fortune on repairs requires some mechanical chops and ingenuity. I’m having a blast developing both of those traits.

Many of my Christian friends send me videos of various musical groups performing hymns. I enjoy them. But if you think How Great Thou Art is good on a video monitor you ought to try singing it yourself while looking at a beautiful vista in the wilderness. Talk about goose bumps.

I wouldn’t trade an hour of time under the hood, or beside the stream, or walking cross country for a hundred more “Likes” on Facebook. I don’t believe all screen time is wasted time, and I don’t believe all use of social media is evil or even silly. It’s just seriously settling for a distant second to real life.

If you’re still reading at this point, thank you. Now shut down your device and go outside. See, touch, taste, smell the natural world. Walk around in it and think about something besides politics and pop culture. Leave your phone off. This is real life. Remember it? You can thank me later.



About JHarrison

I've been a musician, a business owner, a minister, and an author. I'm still heavily involved in three of those four pursuits, and miss my music a lot. My books are about the trials and tribulations of deeply flawed people, becasue I know no other kind.
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1 Response to Confessions of a Modern Luddite

  1. fasterpastor says:

    Thanks for a great exhortation!

    Liked by 1 person

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