Is It Lazy to Opt Out of Technology?

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About Josh Merel

Josh Merel is a PhD candidate with research focus in computational neuroscience at Columbia University. Outside of neuroscience, he has broad ranging interests spanning robotics, literature, philosophy, society and most everything else.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    We have a neighbor who has opted out of recreational technology at home, including smart/cell/I/phone/pad/pod stuff. And computers except for homework, and television.
    As a result, he says, his son has “read more books at fourteen than I have”.
    Kid is mature, well-spoken, handy, competent, does very well at school. I lent him a couple of adult non-fiction books about a technical subject that interested him and his father said the kid wasn’t either puzzled or bored.
    Not many parents have that kind of guts.

  2. With the exception of my cell phone and this out dated lap top, my wife and I have removed technology from our everyday lives. My grown kids on the other hand … not so much and I battle with them all the time. When my wife and I are visiting, I make sure their phones are put away. The only benefit I have to the so called smart phone is that I’m able to access the internet through my phone … cost savings. The other benefits are the photo and video features. Now I have to figure out how to down load the 500+ pictures. It’s one thing to have technology make your life easier, it’s another to make it a focal point for your social life and entertainment.

    I hate texting …. If you want to talk to me, then “talk” to me. I just looked at the apps I have on my phone and I have no idea what most of them do or why I have them. Then again, I come from an era where FM radio was a luxury, 8 track tape decks were amazing. And “Pong” was the high tech game for TV’s.

    I’ve said more than once that with the down turn in the economy, more people have gone back to a more simple life. Board games can actually be fun.

  3. The only reason I opted for a smart phone is that the non-smart phones became impossible to find where I get cell service. Which worries me to a degree because I also have my parent’s cell phones in with my stuff. Not only I can I not afford to have 3 smart phones but I have two aging parents who lack the manual dexterity to manipulate a smart phone and in my dad’s case has a neurological problem which makes something like that impossible for him to learn. He needs just a plain phone to take with him when he goes on his walks etc. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next time I have to get a phone for them.

    I have many friends who have checked out of technology based on cost alone. It’s not cheap to have internet, TV, multiple phones with internet, and the landline phone that lots of people still have here due to huge gaps in cell service where I live. Then to keep up all the equipment (new phones, new computers, new tv’s).

    • Stefan Thiesen says:

      @kat: is that so? I bought very simple Samsung telephones for my parents. Even texting is beyond them. They want to phone. That’s all. They use prepaid cards. Should be available everywhere on the globe.

  4. Stefan Thiesen says:

    I have been a quintessential geek all my life. Just like the cliché suggests, I wanted a telescope for my first communion, and I got it (pretty much the final end of my involvement with religion and the beginning of my love for science and reality). I mass read science fiction books, got my first simple programmable calculator at age 12, built an ultrasonic transmission system when I was 13, had walkie talkies and a Texas Instrument TI 994A when I was 14, back in 1982. That was only the beginning…yesterday I extended my 27″ Quadcore iMac to 16 Gigs, and I thought “My Gosh! Yeehaa!!!”. Radios, World receivers, underwater cameras, diving computers, Top of the line Canon Cameras since the late 80s… and computers, computers, ATARI ST; Commodore AMIGA, a whole collections of PCs and Macs – you name it. So. That’s a part of me. But it is not the only part. I have never been a gamer or user of pre-manufactured entertainment. I DO things with my things. I also never caught onto the “spirit” of “Web 2.0″. I think it is bogus. Some interesting aspects, but all in all sitting in front of a screen and chatting or gaming with others is NOT social. Social is when you are with like-minded friends, joking around, perhaps you play a board game and throw pop-corn at each other. Social was when our informal club of geeks, back in highschool and college, watched geeky movies together, had endless discussions and finally fell asleep wherever we were. Oh – and it was social when we sat in front of a computer, weaving code in endless nights with endless amounts of coffee, a really creative experience.

    On the other hand… when I lived and studied in Hawaii I once saw an AT&T TV commercial. That was in the early 90s. A sporty outdoorsy young fella climbed a mountain somewhere in the Rockies. Sun setting over a breathtaking landscape. He smiles, and breaths freely. Then: ring, ring! His phone. Wife calling checking on him. Slogan: AT&T – Always Connected. A NIGHTMARE! Connected to WHAT? And WHY? So no – the thingies and gadgets are tools for me. Occasionally toys. But when they begin to intrude into my life and make demands, the “off” button is always near. Most people also simply fall for a fashion. the latest i-gadget is a status symbol and not a tool. It is about HAVING. A helpless attempt of purchasing meaning in life. The insight has been around for thousands of years that meaning of life cannot be obtained from external sources, certainly not from possessions of any sort. I am concerned that most people are not even vaguely aware anymore of how the things they use work, what they actually are. That is a stark difference between what I would call consumer-geeks and real geeks. And here is my coming out: I do not possess a Smartphone. I see them mainly as a marketing scheme.

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