Those who pay close attention to labels may have noticed the tag “Neo-Luddism” appended to some of my blog posts. Luddites were nineteenth-century protestors against machines because, their thinking went, machines denied people jobs. I’m not fully in line with this way of thinking, of course, but I do occasionally point out the ironies of how our technological life has become, well, life. Tech seems to have taken over life itself and some people really like that. Others of us miss the outdoors and even the “free time” we used to have indoors. Our computers, phones, iPads, left behind and maybe a physical book cracked open—this seems a dream at times. I really do enjoy our connected life, for the most part. It makes this blog possible, for instance. What I object to is being forced to upgrade. That should be a decision I make, not one thrust upon me.
This is just one small instance of what I’m talking about: my laptop wants an update. It has for a couple of months now. Since it’s in rather constant use I can only devote the time to it on the weekends and the past four weekends have all been used up with other things, including two that had over eight hours of Zoom meetings scheduled. Now, you see, the update isn’t just a matter of simply updating. You need to clear space off your computer first. I like to keep my files and the tech companies want to pressure me into keeping them on “the cloud” so they can charge me for the privilege of accessing the things I created. Instead I back them up on terabyte drives, sorting as I go. Photos, formerly iPhotos, take seven or eight clicks to upload and delete for each and every set. If you snap a lot of pix that translates to hours of time. It also means when I want to access my files I have to remember where I put the terabyte drive, and then connect it to the computer. At least I know where my files are.
But do I? If I were to crack open the drive would I have any means of locating what, on my laptop, looks like memories of family, friends, and places I’ve been? Are they real at all? If you’re sympathetic to this existential crisis created by the tech world in which we live, you might understand, in some measure Neo-Luddism. Of course memory is available for purchase and it will surely last you at least until the next upgrade.