01 September 2012

I'm not a Luddite; I'm a curmudgeon.

I spent a little less than an hour at a Best Buy last night killing time (and, as it happened, my spirit too) while my older daughter was eating out with a friend.

As I browsed -- with no interest or even opportunity to purchase anything (since I had left my wallet at home) -- I noticed the endless array of gadgets, geegaws, and -ware (both soft and hard) that will help consumers connect with the most ease to all they know and have.

And that's when it hit me.  As I looked around, I realized that I reject the basic premise that is driving technological innovation in the 21st Century: the desire to access anything and everything from anywhere.

No, we shouldn't be able to do that...much less want to.  We shouldn't want our beaches or our campsites or our eateries to be movie theaters or financial institutions or living rooms anymore than we should want someone roasting marshmallows or sitting in their pajamas in Carnegie Hall.

Whatever happened to "For everything there is a season..." or " A place for everything and everything in its place"?

Yes, I actually like having to be at home at a certain time to watch something new on television, but I also think it's better for everybody to have times when they can't do certain things...whether that's being accessible for work demands at any time of day or night or buying a car on a Sunday. Connecticut's "blue laws," whatever you might think of their religious origins, were right on the money in spirit: there should be a collective, societal downtime.


  1. I respond with some resonance, but a difference in conclusion. This segement is taken from a piece I am working up for a presentation for tomorrow morning.

    " ... The kids who have carried cell phones as many years as back-packs are now our medical students. They text everywhere and incessantly. They do not see this as a rude behavior. They swear that they can multitask. And they are hugely offended when you tell them you do not care if they are so gifted; that they still are forbidden to do so when a treatment team is on morning rounds on hospital wards.
    The truth lies in the middle. They are better in their claims than I think they are; not as good as they assume. But the “communication connectedness” horse is out of the barn and will not be return to the stall for any more minutes than it takes to chew a few oats. Whatever faith and spirituality develops for the coming generations, it will entail an integration of technology and biology that I cannot fathom. I actually may not even approve. I will probably think that the ways they will exercise their choices will cheat them of some profound and distinctly human opportunities. Though I will probably become more tolerant of the novelties, I may never convert to an advocate’s role. But they will be better able to move back to our world than we are equipped to step into theirs. We will haunt their future but we will never inhabit it.
    Currently the “twenty-something” writers are mesmerized by manual typewriters of boat-anchor weight, in much the way that some of us (at some point in the 70’s) dipped a steel-point nib into india ink to let flow a few lines onto Crane bond. So let the new ones learn both to bless and cuss the silk carbon ribbon. Because I bet, too, they will also walk far back in the library stacks to pull down a leather-bound Keats struck on cotton-rag, its age confirmed by foxing. Then we will all gather in wonder as we all first look into Chapman’s Homer, in that place of time and space where and when the pulsing of blood and ghost merge in a vital indifference. ...."

  2. Quinn, excellent points wonderfully stated...Any chance that I may read the whole presentation at some point?