It wouldn't surprise me if I come off as a Luddite. I've written about unplugging and disconnecting. In teaching, my primary technologies are pen, paper, the printed book. I'm listening to The Pat Metheny Group's "Song For Bilbao" on my turntable. And if you were to catch me writing by hand, I would be doing it with a fountain pen in a notebook. Even on the computer, I'm using a minimalist editor -- Writer from bighugelabs.com so I'm not distracted by bells and whistles. In the last week I've read articles about dumb gadgets being better than smart ones, getting news from actual newspapers, and paying attention to the moment. In school, I tell students I'm intrigued by their willingness to be slaves to phones. On my desk is the paper planner with which I replaced Google Calendar.
Yeah, you could say I'm a Luddite so long as we agree they weren't anti-technology or afraid of it. Rather, they didn't like how technology was being used to disenfranchise and hurt common workers. If we're talking in those terms, then you bet your ass I'm a Luddite.
I've taken the last week off Facebook. I wonder if Facebook went away, would I lose or gain? A bit of both, but not in equal measure. This week I have realized I spend about an hour a day on that site. Ew. It would be okay if it made me happy, but that's mostly not the case.
What does Facebook provide me? A conduit but for what? When I was a kid, Mom called the television The Idiot Box. A box full of idiots and watched by idiots. Sure, that's harsh, but Mom is an all or nothing kind of girl, and I tend that way as well. Facebook isn't completely worthless. It just feels that way.
My plan isn't to swear off Facebook, my phone, or the computer. I just want to ask questions. Are these things making my life better? Am I using them well? Am I being used by them? No, no, and yes, but only because I let them.
Months ago I turned off notifications on my phone. Just now I deleted Gmail from my startup tabs on the Chromebook. I'm learning to turn my phone off part of each day. All of this is a response to my dependence (addiction?) to the technologies.
The only casualty of these maneuvers has been posting to this blog. I've written very little on the computer to post. I'm glad to be back at it, especially in this stripped down editor. (Get a Writer account and customize it. I use a dark blue, Open Sans font on a light yellow page in full screen.)
I want to keep asking questions. I'll check Facebook again soon but maybe with a timer counting down five minutes. I want is a better life and the questions are turning, slowly, into a system to achieve it.