Let me begin by saying that it is not so much that I dislike technological advancement; it’s that I like technology just fine the way it is, and don’t see why we have to keep messing with it. I know I’m not supposed to feel this way. I’m still in my mid-twenties. (Don’t make me say “late”. Not yet.) I’m supposed to love all things bright and shiny and lowercase. I’m supposed to be an “early adopter” and an Apple apologist and wi-fi enabled and all of that. Except I’m not. And I don’t particularly care to be either.
When it comes to technology that didn’t exist when I was in high school, I usually treat it like a menu at a Chinese restaurant. There are a handful of items with which I am comfortable and to which I return often. I know what they look like; I can pronounce their names; I know more or less how my insides will feel when I’m done with them. If pushed, I might occasionally explore something exotic and unnatural (like Words With Friends), but for the most part, I am content to leave the vast majority of Asian cuisine (read: the internet) to the Silicon-slobbering, cat food eating masses.
The problem with technology, of course, is that the menu keeps expanding. Every time I get on the Internet, there are fifteen new things I’ve never heard of. And yeah, maybe I’d like to know how some of them work, but mostly I’d just like to eat my Panda Express 2-entrée special in peace without having to trouble myself with whatever Zuckerberg and his team of warlocks think the world needs next.
As a result, I am growing increasingly and irresponsibly out of touch with the modern world. Last week, for example, a friend was looking at my iPhone, and she asked me why I haven’t gotten any of the last three software updates. I told her it was because I like my phone the way it is, and then I made the mistake of muttering something about being afraid the new updates would delete all my contacts. Based on her reaction, you would’ve thought I had said, “Because I don’t want the CIA to be able to watch me through my phone while I sleep.”
And, the truth is, she’s not wrong for reacting in this way. My feelings toward software updates are paranoid and reactionary and more befitting a 72 year-old retiree who is still trying to figure out whether or not typewriters are here to stay. I get that. But, dammit, that’s how I feel! My phone works just fine. What few apps I have are in order and as they should be. Why should I have to tweak with my phone just because re-animated Steve Jobs (or whoever is running Apple these days) thinks it’s “out of date?”
And it’s not only iPhone updates that I take exception to. Here is an abridged list of popular applications or platforms that I use never or almost never: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, Hulu, Skype, Ted Talks, Siri, iMessage, “Face Time”, Netflix. And here is a list of applications or platforms I use occasionally while failing to utilize probably 90% of their actual potential: LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Spotify, e-readers, The App Store, my phone, the Internet, computers.
My laptop is older than most First Grade students. The version of iTunes I am using right now was released in mid-2008. I don’t particularly care for 3D movies or 3D televisions. I am uncomfortable with Blu Ray players and blue tooth devices. The list goes on.
I don’t know how I ended up this way. It might have something to do with the fact that my family didn’t get our first DVD player until George Bush’s second term. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve never been able to afford the cool stuff and have thus grown attached to the “used to be cool” stuff. Or, maybe I just miss the satisfying motion of flicking open a flip-phone to take a call.
I think that last one probably comes closest to explaining it. I’ve somehow developed a sentimental attachment to the techno-digital epoch that ended five years ago. I have come to feel toward AOL Instant Messenger and screen savers the same (probably misguided) nostalgia I feel toward Collective Soul, Anfernee Hardaway, Joaquin Phoenix, and anything else that hasn’t been relevant for ten years.
As I said at the outset, it’s not that I’m opposed to new technology. It’s just not for me. I am fully on board with mankind’s ever-quickening march toward total and complete reliance on on the devices we have created. We now live in a world where it is possible to live a functional, adult life with nothing more than a data plan and a pair of opposable thumbs. If that’s not the future, I don’t know what is.
But it’s also a future I won’t be part of. That’s because I’ve decided to stay right here. (Or, more accurately, about five years ago.) I spent my first two and a half decades engaging with and embracing all things bright and beta. I have mastered most of the paradigm-shifting devices of the past seventy-five years. (Granted, I still struggle mightily with crockpots and snowmobiles.) And now I’ve decided to pump the breaks.
I’m not asking you to do the same. Y’all can go on ahead without me. Go nuts. Go link and pin and post and hashtag and follow and sext and group message and tweet until your fingers fall off. I’ll be back here in 2007. Back when I still knew how to work my Facebook. Back when there were only seven or eight Youtube videos worth watching. Back when Pandora was still a thing. Back when life made sense.
Don’t wait up.