Technological Reluctance

The last few months have been thoroughly nutty, and nuttiness always makes my brain melt a little bit. At one point (on a Friday afternoon, in a meeting at 3:30 pm), I may or may not have declared that the disappearance of the Oxford comma is a symptom of cultural decline. Like I said…the nuttiness, it gets to me! To compound that bold statement, I was also using a fountain pen to scribble during this meeting. As I work with a group of people who are by and large technologically savvy and usually full of enthusiasm for new technologies, this of course made its way into discussion.

I’m admittedly very old-fashioned about certain things, including writing instruments. I like the feeling of pen and paper. I like the way fountain pens write. And intellectually, the fact that I can’t write as quickly as I can type forces me to synthesize my note-taking; it’s a challenge to remain attentive to what’s being said and what I choose to write down. I like to tell myself that this kind of activity will help stave off Alzheimer’s when I get older.

But overall, I’m not a Luddite. I have a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, and two additional laptops for work (which I realize is a bit of overkill). I have a projector (also for work) with me nearly at all times. There’s a presentation remote clicker that lives in my purse. I use the internet more than I care to admit every day for many functions of my daily life. But despite all this, I have a certain technological reluctance. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not what you’d call an ‘early adopter.’

At the heart of this dilemma for me is the idea that technology is not a panacea for the ills of society. Technologies of various sorts have proven themselves useful; for instance, medical imaging technology to detect cerebral hemorrhaging is absolutely something that I would want around, should my brain start bleeding. And one of my mom’s friends is alive today because she was carrying a GPS unit with her while she was hiking, so when she fell 50 feet off a cliff and was seriously injured, her family could come and find her. But as far as so-called “revolutionary” technologies, I am something of a skeptic. Honestly, how many times can a smartphone be “revolutionary” before the word completely loses its meaning? (By my count: once. And it’s happened, folks.)

Ultimately, I don’t think I’m alone in my technological reluctance. Adopting a new technology for its own sake has always seemed pointless to me. The new technology should offer me something essentially, instrumentally, and (preferably) aesthetically BETTER than the old technology before I start forking over wads of money for it.

But back to the Oxford comma and fountain pens…there are just some things in life that are too comforting and aesthetically pleasing to give up. And interestingly enough, as I have traveled through the state this spring holding financial aid workshops for high school students, I have noticed that many of them, too, are fascinated by pens harkening back a few decades. When students need to sign their scholarship paperwork, and have almost inevitably forgotten to bring a pen with them, they are completely intrigued by my “weird” pen, and once they figure out that handwriting with a fountain pen is directional, they are amazed by it.

So maybe there’s still some hope.
Love, peace, and old-fashioned writing instruments,

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1 Comment

  1. Diane

     /  April 17, 2013

    Hear, hear! From your favorite Techno-tard.


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