Technology Addiction

Inspired by the question of whether Facebook might be considered an addiction, I’ve cast an eye around our apartment (you can cast an eye around the whole thing at once) and identified other technologies that I am addicted to.  An addiction shall be defined as a technology that it’s possible to live without but without which I would be greatly impaired from functioning.  Turns out there are tons.

  • The internet.  It incorporates itself into every aspect of my life.  I would be unable to apply to grad schools without it.  One of my offline hobbies is drawing; when I was working on this picture, I read the description by lord Gacek online, browsed the internet for pictures and information about landsknechts and ancient Chinese armor, drew the sketch, scanned and uploaded it for lord Gacek to approve, inked it, and scanned and uploaded it again.  I would have been completely unable to draw that picture without the internet.
  • Word processors.  I haven’t hand-written a novel since college (pro tip: just because they’re writing stuff down doesn’t mean they’re paying attention) and all the serious ones were transcribed later.  I’m shackled to conveniences like being able to cut and paste to reorder passages, and the handy find/replace function for when I decide to change a name.
  • Cars.  Since the hour-and-a-half bus commute experiment was declared a failure, I’ve relied on our car to get me to LACMA.  Moving would have been outright impossible without our friend’s Ranchero.
  • Phones.  I hate them, but life is filled with so many logistics.  Besides, you have to put a phone number on things like job applications.
  • Watches.  Keeping track of how much time has passed has never been one of my mental skills.
  • Washers and dryers.  I’ve never washed clothes by hand or hung them to dry and I don’t think I’d be very good at it.
  • Refrigerators.  Planning meals around available food resources bought fresh and used before they spoil would be a fiasco for someone who can’t even get multiple dishes on the table at the same time.  I think it also helps if you have a root cellar.
  • Smoke detectors.  This is one I perhaps literally couldn’t live without; the miscellany of pans boiled dry probably would have been caught anyway with no casualties except the pan, but who knows?
  • Electric illumination.  I’m a night owl and, since hobbies like drawing require sufficient light and I’d probably kill myself messing around with kerosene and candles (assuming we’d already eliminated smoke detectors), I need electric light.
  • Lip gloss.  I’m a dry-lipped addict.
  • Stoves.  Did you know that native Californians cooked in baskets?  They were woven watertight and they could drop a hot stone in and boil water.  Yeah, I couldn’t do that.  Then again, given that we had a casualty (Jordan’s thumb) when making fry bread, maybe it’s just us and native American cooking.
  • Indoor heating.  After the windstorm of Christmas 2006, my parents’ house was without power for about a week and sank to a chilly 50 degrees.  It was a long week.
  • Running water.  I use a great deal of water, much more than I could carry even if there was a readily available source.
  • Plastic.  I own an unbelievable amount of plastic stuff.
  • Printing.  I love books.  Our apartment is full of them.  I’d never get along without a ready supply of reading material.
  • Pencils.  Writing with a stylus on a wax tablet would really crimp my style.
  • Soap.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Maps.  I don’t think I’d have much luck building a mental image of my surroundings without ever looking at a picture of them.
  • Processed foods.  I’m not talking Cheez-Wiz and frozen pizzas here, but I’ve got a kitchen full of dried herbs and milled flour, and I didn’t do any of that myself.  Even juice I only make by hand on special occasions.
  • Glass.  Before glassblowing was invented around Roman times, it was an astonishingly rare resource.  There’s almost as much of it around my place as there is plastic.
  • Written language.  The druids were right:  I have a hopeless memory.
  • Paved roads.  Thanks again, Romans.
  • The wheel.  You knew that was going to be on there, didn’t you?
  • Shoes.  Partly it’s the temperature down here in Pasadena, but I can’t even make it to the mailbox barefoot.  I’ll never be one of those Kenyan marathon runners.
  • Refined metals.  I could name natural resources all day.

There are or were people who have lived without every item on this list, but I couldn’t do without even one of them.  What do you say, is it time for a fast from all the technologies we’re addicted to?




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2 responses to “Technology Addiction

  1. I’d like to take issue with some of the “technologies” you list. What we really need here is a definition of “technology,” since few people would categorize glass, soap, the wheel, or paved roads as technological.

    • katz

      But that’s precisely the point of this list. All the things on this list are not found in nature; all were invented by humans at one point or another; there are or have been cultures that did without all of them. The main difference between the things at the top of the list and the things at the bottom of the list is that we’re so used to the things at the bottom that we don’t think twice about how thoroughly they are incorporated into our lives. It’s only the things at the top that people look at and go “We’ve become too reliant on this technology. We should learn to live without it.”

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