I’m 27 years old, and a technophobe. Not in an Amish way, or even in a way that an old man might have been back in the day where only birds could fly.
It’s more of a general do-we-really-have-to-look-like-zombies kind of way.
I have the bare minimum: a laptop and internet and that’s it.
Seriously, that’s all. I cancelled my phone contract a year ago. Yes, I have an iPhone, but I only use it as an alarm clock. I can’t make or receive calls on it, it’s just a fancy pink-cased brick. Okay, a slim-line brick. At first I felt lost without it, and very panicky. But it only took a week to adjust and then I realised how nice it felt to not be accessible all the time to everyone. For emergencies I have a 10 year old Nokia and even then I’m likely to miss an emergency because the battery is always dead.
Apart from not missing being accessible, I also don’t miss having to be occupied with something. I remember sitting in the waiting room of a doctors surgery a few months ago. After I’d finished reading a magazine I just sat and stared around. Then I saw that every single person was staring at their phones. No one was reading and no one was looking around, deep in thought. It scared me a little because we obviously have a new generation (not just the young adults now) who will need to be occupied all the time by something. Not by their own imaginations, by a piece of technology.
I also haven’t had a TV in two years. When mine broke I never bothered replacing it. Not out of any kind of statement – I just didn’t have the money to fix or replace it. I used to miss it a lot and I have to admit that I sometimes still do. It’s not a yearning type of feeling, just more of a – I wish I could watch Modern Family or Big Bang Theory on the nights that they’re on kind of way. But I still have a laptop and while it can play DVDs, I’m not missing much.
I mostly feel that I don’t NEED a TV. I might miss some programmes, but I don’t miss the advertising. When I do get the chance to watch TV, I find that I stare at the commercials with a fixated fascination. I seriously can’t look away and I don’t know why. What I do know is that I don’t miss being told what I should buy and why. I don’t want to feel manipulated into buying a product that I don’t believe in or that I don’t need. I worked in graphic design for a short time – I know what it is to make products pretty and desirable, but it doesn’t mean that I want to fall for it myself. I wanted to get into advertising until I realised how much I hate the methods used by advertising companies. I still fall for pretty products, but these days I research what I want first and why, without being told by TV.
What else? I have an email address. I use email for work and to keep in touch with my best friend who now lives overseas. If she didn’t live in a country without proper postal service, I would send letters instead.
I love letters. I love taking the time and effort into writing a beautiful letter. I love the feeling of pen on paper. I hate wrist cramps, I don’t write enough these days and I’m not used to it… but I love the end result of letters. I have a pen and stationery fetish, I have a fetish with handwriting and ink and watching letters join together. I love the blobs of ink, smeared words and crossing things out and starting again. I love the look of ink over textured paper and the sound of scratching.
I love that you can see emotion in writing, when someone is angry, sad, happy, excited. I love that angry, impatient dragging of pen across paper so the lines become thick and jagged. It shows real emotion, it takes you there, in that moment and it feels so personal.
I’m not a complete technophobe.
I love typewriters. Does that count? I love that it’s not convenient, that you don’t have spell check and you have to be precise. I love the look of the typeface it comes with – I love fonts, typography is the main reason I tried graphic design… I love the sound of the keys and the smell – I don’t know how to describe the smell. It’s a typewritery kind of smell, mechanical and warm. It does a basic job, it’s there with all it’s imperfections and it feels personal, not like computers.
I know that one thing I haven’t been able to let go of is computers and internet – the two things that can really isolate you from life. I stay on the internet for longer than I should, I sometimes have to shake myself back into the real world and stretch cramped legs.
But I also love living in the real world, without phones and without TV. I don’t want to stare blankly at a screen for all of the day, or for all of my life. I want to have time to read and talk to family and friends and go to the beach. I love day dreaming and figuring out answers to stupid questions I ask myself. I love the smell and feel of books. I love watching nature, it can be unexpected at times. I love being able to see the silly things and appreciating them for being silly. I love not having artificial information thrown at me everyday, I love being able to pick and choose what I soak in.
I re-read George Orwell’s 1984 and was scared senseless once again by it. It made me think that we are are force-fed information every day in the guise of every day technology, but do we really realise what we take in? Do we realise how dependent we are on technology and that it’s a big part of how we function and interact?
I know that we won’t go back to typewriters. I know that society will continue to advance and invent and change and I’ll follow, kicking and screaming until technology becomes so invasive that it’s a permanent, ever present presence in our lives and I’ll be forced to become that crazy woman running down the street screaming about Big Brother…
Until then, while you’re staring down at the screen of your phone, I’ll be watching. Because as creepy as that sounds (no, you don’t need to check under your bed, I promise I’m not there), people watching can be the funniest, most rewarding thing you can do with your time while waiting, especially at cafes.