Green Spot: Embracing Your Inner Luddite

Despite being a technology geek at times, for example I just bought a blu-ray player and I love my ebook reader, I’m also a little bit of closet luddite.  I don’t own a cell phone.  I don’t want an ipod, blackberry or even the ipad.  A friend of mine the other day handed me her blackberry saying “do you know how to fix that?” as she pointed to an error message on the screen.  She was a bit shocked to hear me say “I don’t have a clue, I’ve never used one.”

Perhaps its my environmental bent, but I feel technology should actually be useful to me in some way to justify its existence in my life.  Technology to me should either make my life significantly easier in some way and not cost me a lot of ongoing money to keep it.  I hate picking up monthly costs that actually don’t do much for me.

So yes the tech geek in me did read a few reviews of the ipad, but ultimately I determined I don’t need/want an ipad.  I do a LOT of typing on my laptops and that apparently isn’t a strength of the new ipad.  Also I’m not very interested in watching movies or Utube.  I’m not much of a media consumer either so overall I thought the ipad was nice looking, but not for me.

I’m against useless technology that actually doesn’t do much for anyone.  So to me an ipad is similar to a slap chop, it doesn’t do anything new that I can’t already do with something I already own.   This is also why I won’t put in underground sprinklers in my backyard, since I can already water the entire thing by moving the sprinkler I have just twice (small backyard).  Yet I do have underground sprinklers in the front (big front yard).

So how do you tell if a technology is useless to you?  Well here are a few hints:

  • When advertised they use the words “cutting edge” or they discuss all about the “features” on the item that you will likely never use.
  • When the item doesn’t do anything new compared to what you have.
  • When the item will actually cost you more money and/or time than you are already spending to do something similar.
  • When you want the item and you really can’t come up with a great answer to the question of “why do I want this?” that your spouse would actually believe.
  • That the item in question will only save you less than 2 minutes a day.

Of course there are many other hints, but you will have to figure out what works for you.  Technology is good, but not all technology is useful to all people.  Make sure you can tell the difference.  Your wallet and the environment will thank you by avoiding buying items that you stop using all that much six months after you get it.  Embrace your inner luddite and don’t buy technology you don’t need.

How about you?  What technology have you avoided or embraced?

13 thoughts on “Green Spot: Embracing Your Inner Luddite”

  1. Old cell phone for emergency/ occasional convenience. Ipod and small dock that plays tunes in the kitchen – this is an enjoyable thing. Not one to walk around in my ipod oblivion though, earbuds in ear, tuning out the world…
    Desktop and toptop computer, and 32″ CRT TV. VCR/DVD player.
    Think that’s pretty much it.

  2. Great post.
    I steadfastly refuse to own a product that begins with lowercase ‘i’. This is non-negotiable. It seems these products almost never do more than my ‘old’ technology, and sometimes even do less.
    My standard test for useful vs. useless is the size of advertising campaign. Most times the bigger the marketing spend, the more useless the product.

  3. Interesting, I agree and generally hold the same philosophy. I actually still own CRT Televisions in my house. I held out on Digital cable for so long, they gave me the service free for 6 months out of the blue. I have a reminder set in my calender six months from that date to cancel it 🙂

    A related topic could be, what do you invest in that relates to useless technology for you? Do you own RIM or APPL ?

  4. I agree that a gadget has to be useful to me in order to be worth getting. For me, the iPad seems likely to fail. I think a gadget needs to do something (sometheing in demand) well in order to succeed. Any other feature is gravy, but a collection of ‘neat’ features aren’t enough to add up to a useful tool.
    The iPhone is successful because most people are going to get a cell phone anyways, and this one has all of these extra features that convince people to get one.
    A laptop computer is an essential tool for many people (business travelers, students, etc..). The fact that a laptop is also good for watching movies, surfing the internet, playing games, etc.. is another example of features that many people wouldn’t make their primary reason for purchase, but are features that add some value to the product.
    There are other examples too. I don’t think the iPad has a key feature that makes it must-have so it will not be as successful as the iPhone or as the recent Netbook fad.

  5. Hah! I also scorn ‘cutting edge’ technology. Usually that’s just a marketing ploy to make you think you ‘need’ something you don’t.

    As for your blackberry experience, I had a similar one when visiting the US in November. Some friends of mine showed me their fancy phone-doodad things and asked me if we had the same type thing in France. Of course, I’ve seen the French running around with gadgets as well, but I have no interest in them in any country, so I could not compare phones in the two countries. My friends seemed kind of shocked and unnerved.

  6. When a friend of mine showed me that her brand new iPhone has a lots of farts sounds… I felt soooo good being a techy dinosaur! 😀

    Honestly, I was shocked to see that actually someone got paid to program FARTS sounds in the iPhone. Gross… (to me).

    I own a basic cell phone no contract… I buy cards so it cost me about 10$ per month to have a cell phone when I need it. I also have my old iPod and laptop, and my employer gave me a palm (that I don’t really use).

    But I do not plan to buy any new gadget. If I do, it will be because my laptop or iPod crashes dead… hope they will last long 😉 !

  7. Which technologies have I avoided? Bluray, large-screen (or any size for that matter) TVs, and ebook readers. Nothing they do that can’t be done with a plain old laptop. On the other hand, if 50% of my laptop’s functionality (especially web surfing) can replaced with an iPad, I’ll gladly go with that.

  8. Yes, excellent post! I’ve written about this age of gadgetry on my blog several times and it’s nice to know that there are some of us geeks out there who know when to say “no” to gadgets.

    I work in technology so it’s pretty hard to get away from it because it’s what I’m surrounded with every day. It’s especially fascinating because I work for a company that makes apps for mobile devices so I get to see how often new devices come out and how they’re usually not that different from their predecessors. That taught me that there’s not a need for these new devices, they’re just being invented for more profit.

    Personally, I don’t tend to buy a lot of gadgets. I have a PSP which has been amazing when travelling – whether to watch a film or listen to music or play videogames. I have an Xbox 360. Oh and a Flip Mino HD pocket camcorder because it’s cheap AND it’s great quality.

    Other than that, I can’t be bothered. I’ve considered an e-reader, simply because it’s easier to use than to lug around 4 or 5 books on a Greyhound trip! But, I don’t like that I can’t try out the Kindle before buying it. Which one do you have?

    P.S. I’m giving away a copy of Your Money or Your Life on my blog this month. I’m not a financial blogger but it’s sites like yours that got me interested in personal finance a couple of years ago. 🙂

  9. No cell phone for me. I can’t stand those things. They make my life worse. They are cell-fish LOL!

  10. @Julie

    I got the Sony Reader Touch. There is a bit of glare with the touch screen, but I love the features.


  11. HI…. I think we need the simple cell phone to use to contact some body for some reasons .actually there are so many technologies but which are very use full those people who want to use them some of them got psp some wants to play on internet games stay happy what we want to do good site no body wants to waste their money either way

  12. I actually use a lot of technology, but I totally agree with the iPad. It doesn’t replace my phone or laptop and doesn’t add any value, so why do I need one?

    My PVR is great because I get my entertaining show without the commercials and I’m not constrained to the times set by the cable company.

    My Blackberry saves me from having to check my e-mails and Facebook, etc. The mail comes to me. It keeps me organized, there for emergencies, I listen to my school lectures while walking to work, and so forth. Life would be much more difficult without it.

    There are costs associated to it, but the time saved and the pleasure received are worth it in my opinion.

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