Luddites Unite…

Throw off the shackles of technology. Rediscover the true zen of analog pleasures!

The Hotchkisses had a tech-free Christmas holiday – mostly. The most popular activity around our home this year was adult coloring. Whodathunkit?

There were no electronic gadgets, wired home entertainment devices or addictive apps exchanged. No personal tech, no connected platforms, no internet of things (with one exception). There were small appliances, real books printed on real paper, various articles of clothing – including designer socks – and board games.

As I mentioned, I did give one techie gift, but with a totally practical intention. I gave everyone Tiles to keep track of the crap we keep losing with irritating regularity. Other than that, we were surprisingly low tech this year.

Look, I’m the last person in the world that could be considered a digital counter-revolutionary. I love tech. I eat, breathe and revel in stuff that causes my wife’s eyes to repeatedly roll. But this year – nada. Not once did I sit down with a Chinglish manual that told me “When the unit not work, press “C” and hold on until you hear (you should loose your hands after you hear each sound) “

This wasn’t part of any pre-ordained plan. We didn’t get together and decide to boycott tech this holiday. We were just technology fatigued.

Maybe it’s because technology is ceasing to be fun. Sometimes, it’s a real pain in the ass. It nags us. It causes us to fixate on stupid things. It beeps and blinks and points out our shortcomings. It can lull us into catatonic states for hours on end. And this year, we just said “Enough!” If I’m going to be catatonic, it’s going to be at the working end of a pencil crayon, trying to stay within the lines.

Even our holiday movie choice was anti-tech, in a weird kind of way. We, along with the rest of the world, went to see Star Wars, the Force Awakens. Yes, it’s a sci-fi movive, but no one is going to see this movie for its special effects or CGI gimcrackery. Like the best space opera entries, we want to get reacquainted with people in the story. The Force’s appeal is that it is a long-awaited (32 years!) family reunion. We want to see if Luke Skywalker got bald and fat, despite the force stirring within him.

I doubt that this is part of any sustained move away from tech. We are tech-dependent. But maybe that’s the point. It used to be that tech gadgets separated us from the herd. It made us look coolly nerdish and cutting edge. But when the whole world is wearing an iWatch, the way to assert your independence is to use a pocket watch. Or maybe a sundial.

And you know what else we discovered? Turning away from tech usually means you turn towards people. We played board games together – actual board games, with cards and dice and boards that were made of pasteboard, not integrated circuits. We were in the same room together. We actually talked to each other. It was a form of communication that – for once – didn’t involve keyboards, emojis or hashtags.

I know this was a fleeting anomaly. We’re already back to our regular tech-dependent habits, our hands nervously seeking the nearest connected device whenever we have a millisecond to spare.

But for a brief, disconnected moment, it was nice.

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