Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why push technology?

I am, by my nature, someone who likes to do things the long way. The anti-technology way. The old way. I like handsewing, embroidery, knitting by hand, cooking from scratch, canning. I like to let a fever run its course (though I am ever grateful for medical technology for those things that tea and sleep cannot cure!) and I like to keep things as simple as I can.

To that end, I tend not to use the dishwasher, we don't watch television, and we don't play a lot of games that require electricity or batteries. I do use a washing machine, though I have washed clothing by hand. I use a dryer, too, but at least half our laundry hangs to dry every week. I just don't care for crispy towels. We use electric lights, but we dim them to "fake" nightfall every evening. And I obviously use a computer, though again, I try to limit its use in our daily functioning.

And we've done well.

In graduate school I had no television or radio, until some friends felt sorry for me and descended on my rented condo with tv, vcr, radio/cd player, and I don't remember what all else. And I graciously thanked them, then when they'd left I rearranged the furniture to hide them behind a chair and used them all of maybe once a semester.

When we moved to Michigan five years ago, I had no appliances, and was again gifted with the extras of others. We soon had an enormous microwave oven, a toaster oven, a 13" tv, a vcr, and I still had the radio from grad school. We didn't really watch tv all that much, though. But again a friend felt sorry for me (don't know why - we were just fine) and gifted me with a 21" tv/vcr/dvd combo unit. I have used it quite a bit for movies over the last four or five years, and it has served us well.

When the Detroit area went digital last year, I didn't even try to buy a converter box. I didn't take a voucher for a free one. I just plain didn't want or need it. Why have one if we'll never use it??
I was recently offered a used 40" hdtv for free and refused. I don't want the tv as the focal point of our living room. And I wouldn't use it enough to justify its presence. Our little combo unit sits unplugged 90% of the time.

There are so many wonderful things we can and do do in the evenings and weekends, that we don't really have time for tv. I'm not just saying this - I truly believe it. I'm quite happy and content without broadcast television in my life. I don't think I'm missing anything, and Kiddo has been quite content, too. He can and does watch tv at his dad's house, and that's fine. If that's what they want to do together, let them enjoy it. Here we read, play games, craft, talk, and otherwise entertain ourselves quite well. Kiddo even tells people who are shocked by our lack of technology that "we don't need it - we don't have time to sit and watch other people do things."

But is it an uphill battle? Am I shunning the world at large? Do I really need to be in contact and have this stuff beamed into my house on a daily basis?? Am I a bad parent, neglecting the cultural education of my son because I don't provide network television to him?

Apparently his dad thinks so - he bought me a digital converter for Christmas.

While I am aware that the intentions are good, as were those of my wonderful and generous friends, do I really need this? Am I that out of touch that I must watch television? Or it is more like a drug dealer, and they only want me to watch because they do? (Come on, just one more hit, er... program).

How do you deal with the modern age and technology?


Julie said...

You would ask this about three hours after we bought a Wii. (That's a video game. If you don't know. Just sayin'.)

I always think of technology in terms that the Mennonite taught me: It can destroy community by making it easier to call, or drive away, or whatever. But I don't entirely agree with them. You see, you can use it to BUILD community, too. Blogging and Ravelry and that leap to mind.

So, with that in mind, I tend to use technology for education and community-building, and try to avoid it as a time suck or brain twinkie. We're not always successful, but we try.

I hate microwaves. They take up space and don't do anything that another appliance could do as well or better.

Occasionally I get stuck using modern conveniences, just because of the hand problems. It's annoying, but there it is. I do use a hand-crank can opener, though, as physical therapy, so even that balances out.

highflyinsm said...

Honestly I am not a fan of technology in my house, I resist television and cable, proffering talk radio and books! Now I have only 3 stations, one of which is CNN I watch weekly to keep myself in the loop with what is happening in the rest of the world.

As for a "cultural education" from TV, it's true there are some jokes I don't get. I have never seen an episode of the Simpsons, this amazes people. What's more amazing to people is I don't want to, I have better things to do with my time then watch yellow cartoon charters! Sure I miss out on a few jokes, but really I don't feel that deprived by it. :)

My most advanced technology is my macbook, and that is enough for me. It allows me to reach into the digital world, but at my choice and not have it blasted at me from a loud box! I always keep it in my desk at home, which is an antique secretary desk, so the center of my living room is the spinning wheel and bookcase, not technology. I personally felt TV's should be banned to there own little room by themselves!

Of course I might also be biased because I have a magnetic field that breaks technology!

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Mara said...

I think the previous comment from "Anonymous" gives a good perspective on the drawbacks of technology.

I don't see any problem with not watching television. My screen at home is used as either a computer monitor or for video games. I've never tried to get a television channel on it, so I don't know if it would even work since the digital transition.

I'm liking video games a lot right now, particularly since I can stay in touch with people who don't live in the same state by playing games and chatting with them at the same time. I'm looking forward to doing this with my nephews and nieces soon!

=Tamar said...

I gave up broadcast tv in 1993. I confess I am addicted to the internet, since 1995 when my husband introduced me to it. The internet allows me to interact with the real people on the other end of the wire, unlike tv. I do own an old tv set, solely for watching videotapes and DVDs, which I don't do often. I am absent-minded, so I like the microwave because it turns itself off. I tried one video game and found it was boring. I have a ton of books.

Marji said...

I happened on your blog after bopping around Ravelry - can't remember the path that got me here, but it really doesn't matter.
I lived in Michigan from 1968-2003. I raised my kids in Traverse City, and we had no television in our house from about the time my eldest son was 5 - I'm thinking 1992, until the day after 9/11
I bought a TV then, just a little one that sat on a chair if we wanted to watch it, because I needed to know what was happening in the world.
Interestingly, no one ever felt sorry for me and gifted me with a television. Maybe they knew we had one in the basement that just wasn't hooked up. Turns out when I tried to plug it in it wasn't cable compatible anyway, and in TC there is no television without cable. Reception is lousy.

Point is, I raised my kids without TV, and they are perfectly well adjusted and now neither one of them have much time or patience with TV.
Stick with your principles, your son doesn't need it. There is a reason they call it the idiot box.

Now I'm married to a man who insisted we buy the largest screen TV out there, and it has way too prominent a place in our living room. My husband can't imagine life without TV, although he's about to find out, as we are moving to a boat on Lake Michigan soon. We will have no TV. ;)