And while I shall keep silent about some points, I do not want to remain silent about my morality which says to me: Live in seclusion so that you can live for yourself. Live in ignorance about what seems most important to your age. Between yourself and today lay the skin of at least three centuries. And the clamor of today, the noise of wars and revolutions should be a mere murmur for you.
Born in 1978, I’m a millennial in name only. I’m really a Luddite. I don’t get technology, and for a long time I tried to convince myself I didn’t want to get it. My view on the latest cyber advances was lack of interest and occasionally hostility. I imagined that this rejection marked me as an iconoclast or a rugged individualist. A real man listens to Led Zeppelin and doesn’t listen to Led Zeppelin on iTunes — that sort of thing. Now, thanks to that mulishness and vanity, I feel like a clamshell of a man, outdated and struggling to communicate with the rest of my cohorts’ fancy smartphones. At the age of 33, I’ve been left behind.
…From Friendster to PDAs, iPods to Facebook, I avoided dialing up or jacking in like my jean jacket and Marlboros depended on it. It was an image cultivated to look cool. But now the only image I’m left with is a deeply uncool one. I’m missing out on cultural conversations. I’m missing out on music and videos. I’m missing out on ideas that can be fired around the globe at the speed of thought. I’m missing out on social change that’s been enabled from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park. I’ve never even seen an Angry Bird.
…The truth is that all the beepers and cellphones and video game systems and VHS (and DVD) “movie machines” weren’t the vain consumerist crap I pretended they were. They weren’t the passing fads of the bourgeois. They were the foundation of a language that almost everyone in my generation has learned to speak and one that younger members of our cohort were simply born knowing. It’s the language of adaptability, of being so willing to learn and discover a new device that you never need directions to it. All of this stuff was about communicating. With each other. With machines big and small. With people in other countries. Come to think of it, communication was never my strong suit, either.
Dude, if it’s any consolation, you’re every bit as melodramatic and emo as any teenager, so maybe there’s life in your old bones yet. Settle down, stop wailing and learn what the term “Luddite” really means. In fact, look it up on that there newfangled Internet machine you use to write your monthly column on.
Histrionics aside, it sure does amuse me that anyone old enough to know better would actually think that there’s nothing interesting to talk about in this great big world of ours but the latest soon-to-be-obsolete gadget, or the trendy means of conversation. Really, man? You feel isolated because you don’t walk around all day with your flickering attention span confined to the alphabet soup messages floating across a palm-sized screen? Be glad. Verily, I say unto you: the world doesn’t actually revolve around the relatively tiny cliques of the Internet-famous and their hangers-on, hard as that may be to believe. People aren’t any more witty or intelligent on Facebook and YouTube, and it’s highly doubtful that you’ll be looking back in twenty years, sighing happily over fond memories of workplace small talk about this or that TV show.