I mentioned that I’m going to become something of a modern Luddite, but I didn’t explain what exactly that was. So, here we go…
A Bit of History
During the Industrial Revolution, a group of people protested against changes that were taking place. This social movement often expressed itself by destroying mechanized looms. These textile artisans felt that the machines were going to replace them and that their livelyhood was in danger.
Their name comes from Ned Ludd, who was believed to have destroyed two large pieces of equipment (stocking frames) earlier in England, making him the first actor in the movement. At that time, breaking machinery could be punished by execution, so the name Ned Ludd might have been ficticious. False name or not, the name stuck, and the Luddite movement was formed.
Since the Luddites thought that the new machines were going to take away their source of livelyhood, they were acting in self-preservation. They didn’t understand basic economics, and so didn’t realize that they would still have their jobs, the factory in which they were working would have simply made more product by using the machines.
The term Luddite managed to stick around from the early 1800s until today. In the 1970s large numbers of people began to question technology and called themselves “New Luddites”. And so the Neo-Luddite movement was born. People opposed to advances in technology because of the cultural and socioeconomoic changes that are associated with it.
Most often, the term Luddite was used in a negative way by advocates of technology, insinuating that Luddites are backwards and foolish for their beliefs. However, I believe that the term can hold a positive connotation. It is with this aim which I will be using the word.
Luddite as a positive. I am not against technology. I believe that technology has provided us with many opportunities that simply weren’t available only a few short years ago. The world has shrunk, we can travel around it in a matter of hours, we can talk across it after only a few short rings, on phones that we carry in our pockets. Work can be done from anywhere, at any time. What amazing opportunities are now available to us!
Unfortunately, with the ready availibility of technology, it has begun to take over our lives. I constantly see people who “cannot live” without their cell phone and texting, or without an mp3 player of some sort stuck in their ears. Not only do I resent the erosion of manners that have taken place, but I feel that we are actually less productive than ever before, precisely because of the devices that have been created to help us.
So, as a modern Luddite, I am breaking the technology habit. People lived quite happily for years without a cell phone in their pocket, without email, and without Google to control all of their information. I will be taking a look at the technology that I use and make educated decisions about what to keep and what to let go.
Technology might be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean that I have to use all of it all the time.