IMAGE SOURCE // iVillage

I’ve hesitated to post about this for a while, given how grouchy it sounds. But it’s been on my mind for weeks, and I can smother this inner, cranky grandma no longer.

(Please forgive that rather violent metaphor.)

The deal is this: I want technology to STOP.

I want it to STOP making smart phones that make it socially sanctioned to check Facebook while in the company of other human beings. I want it to STOP making e-readers that will eventually take away my books. I want it to STOP making new gadgets that have a life span of 18 months. As crazy as it sounds, I want it to STOP making it so easy for me to get places, because I’m losing what little natural navigation ability I once had and starting to feel directionally dumb.

There are also things that technology doesn’t directly do, but people do people because of technology, that I would also like to STOP. Namely, texting while they’re on a dinner date, and texting while driving.  I’m guilty of that last one. (And would like to STOP.)

Whew.  As you can see, this has been pent up for a while.

The thing is, there is a ton of stuff technology makes possible that I also adore. You reading this, for example. I love that. When I was in junior high and high school, I wanted to write for people, but hadn’t the foggiest idea how people would read me, unless I wrote books or something. And now, here you are! Reading me!

I don’t want to get rid of technology altogether. I enjoy having a computer, and reading blogs, and making phone calls from wherever I am. That stuff’s alright.

I just feel this fatalistic, 1984-like sense of dread sometimes that my generation is slowly being enveloped into this online-all-the-time world, and that there is a whole industry out there encouraging it.  Even though it’s making us legitimately nuts.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I want to technology to slow down.

Which, OK, is unrealistic — we’re living in the Information Age, and unless I convince all of you to go Amish, we’re probably going to stay plugged in: Our jobs (and many of our hobbies) demand it. Gadgets are going to get more sophisticated, Internet speeds will get faster, and the the march of technology will keep going forward.

But here is an example of what technology does to my brain, and it concerns me. This conversation took place yesterday evening:

Me: Well, it looks like I’ve got a few minutes to kill out here in this beautiful ranch.

My brain: Why are we at a ranch?

Me: Because we’re at aerial silks, silly, and it’s out in the country.

My brain: Oh. I’m bored!

Me: Why? The sun is slowly setting over the trees, the smell of cedar is in the air, the birds are chirping …

My brain: Blah blah blah FACEBOOK!  Let’s get on Facebook. Let’s get on Facebook let’s get on Facebook letsgetonface–

Me: Um, no. Just look over there! There’s a donkey! And goats! Wouldn’t it be fun to go pet the goats?

My brain: Oooh yeah, let’s pet them, take a picture, and TWEET THEM!

Me: … or just pet them?


Me: Um, I don’t think that’s necessary —

My brain: Whatever. Oh I know. Horoscope app!!!! Let’s check your horoscope, Tolly. I bet you’re going to have a really good day.

Me: Well, seeing how my day is mostly finished —

My brain: Let’s see, OK, Aries, mhmm, today you will discover mysterious fortune, yes, although fate has been giving you mixed signals lately, and — well it says here you’re going to experience conflict, Tolly! I wonder what that’s all about!

Me: —-

You see? Even I, smug iPad and e-reader rejector, am horribly weak in the face of a powerful, infinite-options smart phone.

I can be in a gorgeous, flower-dotted field, with goats no less, and still have to fight sometimes to put it down.

Anyway, I wonder if there are other people out there who feel like me. I used to think I was a plugged-in city gal, but lately, I crave this. And this. And especially this. Prepare my yurt!  I’m ready to go native.

I think eventually, I would genuinely like to help people unplug more. I’m not sure what will look like yet … but it’s something that’s been on my mind. So many of our great artists are radically offline, like my friend (and now bestselling author) Austin Kleon. The man is social media savvy, but also knows when it’s time to take a break. Eckhart Tolle does not do email. Can you imagine?

Maybe we could start a movement or something, the Get Offline Movement. What do you think?