Monday, April 8, 2019

Question: Eliminating Technology?

Photo by Salt Water New England
The backlash against the big technology companies continues, and increasingly, a vision of a good life minimizes "screen time."  Given that, what technologies, including apps and streams, have you recently eliminated or are planning to eliminate in the near future?  And new products such as Light Phone  <link>  also beg the questions, once you have cleared away the clutter, what few recent technology features and affordances do you most want part of your life?

35 comments:

  1. I grew up in West Virginia and for a while lived in a log house (not a cabin!) that did not have a telephone. They had only recently gotten electricity. They were about as off the grid as they could be. None would want to go back to the old way for anything. I moved away as soon as I finished high school, spending the first summer away from home in Amherst, Mass. I now live outside Washington, D.C.

    Apparently I use too few of new technologies to be able to give them up. I somehow manage without a cellphone. The internet, though, seems essential, it would appear, at least if you want to keep up with the doings in coastal New England. But television has lost its appeal.

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  2. I'd say that I'm divided. I work with computers (web site content managment) for my job, but for recreation and relaxation, the laptop gets closed.

    And recreational reading is solely ink-on-paper. Often the books are years or decades out of print. (Bookfinder.com is terrific.) I love taking big, fat hardback books on air travel for work.

    As for a cell phone — yes, I have one and use it as seldom as possible. (Tablet or other "device" — no.) I don't text, this paper-map junkie doesn't use GPS, and for photography, I have numerous real cameras, both film and digital, and a slew of interchangeable lenses, plus a darkroom.

    Luddite? Yeah, in some things. But not all.

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  3. I refuse to give up any of the stuff I use. Iphone, laptop. modern car with navigation so the directionally challenged spouse can always get home. An iphone is the single most important safety item to have in the car to call for assistance. With it you always have a camera in your pocket to photograph a tree leaf, flower, bug, product label, or book cover to look up later, or to take a picture to instantly send to someone. And a laptop with internet access is the biggest reference library on the face of the earth, there for your consultation at your leisure, as well as on the iphone when you are out. I do email, internet, documents and spreadsheets at home (NO twitter, facebook, instagram, or other "look at me" stuff), and carry a half dozen Bible translations on my phone, as well as a bit of Tomlinson and Belloc. Why should I want to give any of this up?

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  4. I agree with Blue Train that television has lost its appeal with the exception of some excellent British shows on PBS.

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  5. Well I have used the Punkt MP01 since December 2016 and retired my smartphone. I have not missed it! I have a Thinkpad with linux to deal with all online needs. Two considerations are important to me then using new technology:
    1. Disturbance from devices ruin my flow through the day. I get less efficient and do not submerge myself fully in matters that are important to me professional and personal. Imaging the number of people researching in how to steal your time. Apps are bought with time of your life.
    2. Personal security and safety. Security: As we transfer essential functions we are increasingly vulnerable to hackers around the globe. People with no good intentions do not need psychical access, just an internet connection. Safety: Unless you actively prevent it Tech-corporations have access to not only your browsing history but also messaging, planner, email and control a large part of news distribution. This isn't good for any society!

    I remain analogue for as much as possible and only turns on my computer, then I have a need for it or have chosen to spend time online for fun, as right now.

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  6. I only have my landline, broadband and a new MacBook Pro with basic apps. As I don't need a car, preferring trains and cabs when necessary, I don't have satnav or similar tech toys. My hifi system is based on vinyl and CDs as I prefer to own my music rather than rent it or stream it.

    I also refuse to use unsocial media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc which are the main barriers to an intelligent, safe, tolerant and moral society. I'm totally fed up with the idiots who walk around looking at their stupid (not smart at all!) phones and tablets. Every day, at least two of these cretins walk into me in the street.

    Btw, my friend says that I am turning into Victor Meldrew (for those who know Brit comedy) but I don't believe it!

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    1. I agree completely, Ken. Fed up with people walking around staring into their "devices." How would they feel if I walked into them while reading my book?

      So, to answer the question here...I have a cell phone because my husband insisted on buying one for me. I only turn it on if I need to make a call, which would then only be an emergency. I use the internet for work, which is mostly email, and only sparingly at home. No apps, no "unsocial" media (loved that term.) TV...we only watch the weather channel to check on weather...it is New England after all. My husband will watch a golf game now and then. We do like movies, but we usually buy the DVD. Netflix, we have it and watch occasionally. That's pretty much it.

      Do I get criticized? Yes. Do I care? No. My life is peaceful, and I like it that way. Sounds like there are some kindred spirits here for me.

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    2. I too feel like I've found kindred spirits after reading your post and Ken's.
      Good luck with watching the weather ( I do hate the sensationalized Weather Channel and prefer Weather Nation). Now that the weather is controlled by algorithms, the meteorologists no longer use their brains and rely solely on technology. Once 5G takes over, we won't have reliable weather forecasting. NASA is raising a ruckus about this. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-14/nasa-warns-hurricane-forecasts-may-revert-1970-accuracy-due-5g-conflict

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  7. Desk top computer and laptop are essential as is the iPhone, mostly in regard to classes at Penn and people who want me to pet sit. The landline is mostly annoying robocalls. 'No longer on Facebook (privacy concerns), no twitter, no Instagram. TV is at a minimum for the first 20 mins of GMA, Jeopardy and 3 PBS channels (mostly Sunday nights) I have a small library of classic literature and text books for current classes.

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  8. I went to a conference once where a guy was speaking about the marvels of technology and he quoted an astonishing dollar amount that I wish so badly I could remember. It was the sum total of all the consolidated things an iPhone replaces...maps, libraries, clocks, cameras, photo albums, typewriters, the post office, computers, music collections, CD players, radios, banks, televisions, calendars, notebooks, wallets, calculators, video cameras, books, board games, retail stores, compasses, translators, travel agents, and oh yeah....telephones. Despite all of these conveniences (the one I'm least willing to give up is Google Maps for GPS) I find the thing maddening, addictive, and I'm not sure if I'd be more handicapped by the loss of a finger or that damn device. My job requires it and so there is no choice for me, but there is something to be said for thinking aloud "I wonder what..." and NOT being able to Google its answer in 1.4 seconds.

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  9. If I eliminated all things tech, ie cell phone, laptop, desk top, internet, I would not be 'enjoying' SWNE!

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  10. I am addicted to technology and became that way teaching school. The only thing I kept with ties to the past was my chalkboard. The kids were all technology savy, and I had to keep pace.

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  11. We brought our TV to the recycling center years ago and haven't looked back. It feels like we've added hours to the day. And we've used the "extra" time for cooking more complicated meals and then lingering at the table savoring our efforts.

    And in the other direction, I won't give up GPS or my Kindle/Nook (I have both). They allow me to read anywhere, at anytime (Night Mode's great for not waking the missus).

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  12. I use my iPhone as. . . A phone. Luddite of me, I know. For my convenience rather than others'. That means, most of the time it's silenced either in my inner jacket pocket, or on the top of my dresser when at home unless I am expecting a call. I also bit the bullet and left Facebook last October after eight or nine years of considerable time wasted there.

    Best Regards,

    H-U

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    1. Hi H-U, I have given up Facebook for Lent and am conflicted about whether or not I'll keep going with it. I'm leaning towards keeping it but limiting my time to five or ten minutes most a day. In the past it's been useful for me to keep up with local issues since there are some groups that come together to address community concerns. Also, my church posts updates there as well as my local police department.

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    2. Giving up Facebook was one of the best choices I ever made for myself. I felt guilty over electronically abandoning my "friends" and family, but I pushed through it. The constant noise, the impolite political discussion, the emotional nudity that some felt comfortable parading around in, the embarrassing selfies posted by esteem-deprived teenagers... its sum total just made it all seem like a circus of human frailty and folly. I have not missed any of the Facebook moments I've missed.

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    3. Anonymous, I like the way you put it. I can understand that guilt and I'm going to put quotes around "abandoning" them. I do feel obligated to keep up with others that way so I've been feeling like it would be abandonment on my part, but thinking about it after reading your post I realize it's not. It's dangerous the way Facebook has a near monopoly on "staying in touch." All the more reason to stay away! Thanks for the inspiration.

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    4. Averyl, be prepared for a few to assume you "unfriended" them, a few to be offended that you didn't forewarn the FB world before doing it (this is not something I felt I needed to do - it felt a little like standing on the ledge of a building threatening to jump instead of just jumping), and a few to send you text messages and emails asking if they've done something to cause you to "abandon" them. But I did come to realize that nothing I was doing on there was authentic, nothing was critical to my happiness or the happiness of others, and nothing about Facebook was helping me feel content with my own very good, perfectly happy, totally blessed life. I know it's great for some people to keep up with family and friends they otherwise wouldn't, but I really think it was taking the interest and surprise out of life. Sitting with a friend I'd not seen in a long time, I found we had nothing to discuss because I'd seen her whole life unfold on Facebook already. I knew every detail of all that had happened to her since college... and so we just sat, sipping our coffee, sighing at each other.

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  13. Oh, but we do enjoy many TV programs, often British, via Amazon, Netflix, and Acorn, for example. So, we certainly avail ourselves to modern conveniences, but we, or rather I try not to let it take over. My wife, on the other hand, is a real tech junkie though, to be fair, much of that is due to her job as a university administrator with a busy travel schedule.

    H-U

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  14. Around Christmastime, we realised we had not turned the TV on since August. So we boxed the TV and put it into storage. (The last programme we watched was The Great British Bakeoff.). So we got rid of it. We never had cable or satellite TV, in any case as we can’t abide the fees. We only used broadcast TV via an antenna in the attic.

    Despite that, we still have a backlog of unread books and plenty of other things to keep us occupied.

    The cars apparently support some satellite radio, but we have never tried that. As near as we can tell it has fees, something which our frugal nature won’t abide

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    1. My wife is devoted to the Great British Bakeoff program, as well as many other British TV shows. But honestly, I can barely understand the dialogue.

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    2. https://www.pbs.org/video/
      Reset to this PBS page to your zip code-
      scroll onwards down page.
      See “Food."

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  15. We deep-sixed the cable tv in September 2013 when the Yankees failed to make the playoffs, and have never looked back. The tv still gets used to watch an occasional dvd movie... We do use the internet on the iPhone for our news, moving easily from one source to another, domestic and international, in an effort to determine some semblance of the truth. One certainly can’t find that on either side of the non-stop nattering on the cable ”news” networks... Email, alas, is a work necessity. But it is a remarkable communication tool, especially when used to cover distances between oceans and continents.... Facebook and Instagram are not part of our routine. But evidently they may become so if plans to conduct commerce over the internet gel... The iPad gets used mainly as a radio. We live in a semi-rural radio-poor area. Streaming WMNR classical, WWOZ New Orleans Music for the Universe, and WHAY Free Range Radio, saves the day... All these electronic devices are useful tools for discerning individuals. Alas, the mass media, and this now includes Facebook, Instagram and the like, has always played to the lowest common denominator. If something is popular, it must be good. Sigh.

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  16. I'm currently suffering an existential crisis relating to humanity and ' smart' technologies. I was always taught to question everything, learn from my mistakes, become wiser and always be accountable for all my choices. As a result of my upbringing, I truly hate smart technologies being forced upon me. As a researcher, I absolutely hate algorithms that predict my behavior and what I want or need. Just because I Googled Thomas Jefferson doesn't mean I'm interested in presidents of the US. I value self reliance, I enjoy using my brain and challenging my cognitive functions. I enjoy being the leader in my own life in every moment. To me, that is the definition of freedom. I'm not trendy so I don't care what is popular and frankly, I've learned that most things that are popular are not good for me.

    I don't rely on GPS although I have used it in marine biology research but even then, it wasn't as reliable as my own ability to map a location in my own brain by using water features, landmarks and the shoreline.

    When I'm driving a vehicle aka WMD, I feel responsible for my safety and the safety of others so I just drive ( imagine that!) and I don't talk on phones or text. I was in a dealership the other day and heard a young man complaining that his driver assistance technology wasn't warning him that he was moving out of his lane. He was so angry and threatened to sue the manufacturer. REALLY? I bit my tongue for as long as I could and then I finally suggested that he just try looking at the road when he's driving. Where is the desire or incentive to become a better driver or a more mindful human being when we rely on technology to be accountable for our 'well-being'?

    I could ramble for days about my disappointments in humanity's reliance on technology but I'm more gravely concerned about humanity's willingness to surrender their privacy, personal accountability, relationships, and human intelligence and become a commodity.

    I realize that I'm not a typical 21st century woman. I don't care about having a cell phone but I do have a 4s iphone that I keep turned off in an RFID pouch to use when I may need it. I'm an introvert so I don't rely on others to keep me entertained and I don't need a slew of fake friends to make me feel alive. I don't compare myself to others and I don't want others to compare themselves to me.

    I have a small Roku smart tv that I enjoy only because it gives me the ability to watch Britbox and other channels free of advertising. I use Youtube only for learning how to fix things or to watch an old movie or CBC news but they are now bombarding us with ads so I have no problem saying goodbye to them.

    I've lost power due to hurricanes for as long as 3 weeks and those were some of the most relaxing happy days of my life. I just don't believe that all these smart technologies that are supposed to make life easier actually do and what are we sacrificing by relying on them? I noticed that in one of Muffy's recent photographs, two young women were on a bridge and one of them was looking down at her device as she walked and I thought about all the lost memories and experiences that she'll never have. Those experiences may seem insignificant in the moment but they culminate into greater insight and wisdom about life.

    I suggest that everyone read " The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff

    The truth is, I wouldn't miss any of this technology but I lived without it for most of my life and know that it's not necessary. I like using my car and house keys and not worrying about putting my key fob in the freezer every night to protect it from thieves that amplify signals emanating from my car, key fob or home.

    I'm not a commodity, I'm an authentic human being and treasure authentic human experiences.

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  17. Surveillance is the business model of the internet.
    As anon. above said, read Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff.

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  18. Privacy is a relatively modern concept, just about as modern as indoor plumbing. Our expectations have changed more than anything else.

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  19. The internet allows me to have YouTube on the TV. I watch Ozzie & Harriet and dream of the simple days of my youth!



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  20. The NY Times has an interesting article and reader survey on comfort levels with privacy vs having their data mined:

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/10/opinion/privacy-survey.html

    I was in the 1% (not that concerned) on those who care about online data surveillance on social media. The thing that bothers me most is the large collection of unwanted catalogs I receive in the mail. It's not just bad for the environment, it's a pain to call and opt out of the lists. I have a rather boring data trail anyway.

    What does concern me the most, and I refuse to participate in, is providing DNA to ancestry companies.

    Question for those who are concerned about privacy: Have you submitted your DNA to one of the popular ancestry businesses?

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    1. The DNA collection is such a scam!! It makes me sick to think about how these ancestry sites are preying on the unsuspecting public. The genealogists that recommend this should be tarred and feathered. I often enjoy the PBS show Finding Your Roots but once the DNA testing gets mentioned, I lose all respect for Gates and his producers. There isn't as of yet any reliable way to trace anyone's ancestral roots through DNA- especially mitochondrial DNA! They are just gathering data about everyone and beware because there have been cases where innocent people were arrested for homicides and rape because authorities collected info from people's trees and DNA tests.

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    2. I might win the Luddite prize here. I have a flip phone, and I rarely have it on. I keep it in the car for an emergency. I don't tweet, text, Insta, etc. I use a laptop for email, ordering things, and such. I read books printed on paper. As for television, we have cable, but my husband and I always say, "All of these channels and nothing worth watching." I guess we need to rethink that fee we're paying. I have GPS in my car, but it mostly annoys me, so I don't use it much. I have always liked maps because they seem to orient me, while GPS disorients me. I haven't done the DNA bit. I did a 30-day free trial of Netflix so that I could watch "The Crown." I guess that's it for me. I agree with much of what people have said, especially about those who walk around looking at their phones instead of watching where they are going, and I am enraged with the people who use their phones while driving.

      Jacqueline

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    3. Averyl, I could not agree more! I join you in the 1% and very much in your concern of sending in your DNA to a random company lab.

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  21. Thank all of you for this Post.
    Your time and effort is appreciated so much!
    It is like a hand patting of sanity. I was really starting to wonder about myself in these changing times. The mind set of the younger crowds get pretty uncomfortable (blatantly nasty) when you are not "hip & now" nor want to be.
    Thank you again!

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  22. I wouldn't trade any of my technology. I'm so thankful to be able to choose to use or not use. Imagine if you lived someplace where they took away your GPS/TV/Phone/Access to social media........

    Seems like a lot of the comments are "I'm uncomfortable with________but my use of______ is cool" Lol.

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