According to Wikipedia, the Luddites were a group of 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their way of life. They could get wild at times, sabotaging and destroying the looms and machinery that displaced them. The movement was named after General Ned Ludd or King Ludd, a mythical figure who, like Robin Hood, was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest.
The Luddite movement has continued in various forms right into the present. And
some lots of days I can really relate. Like when I wake to 541 items in my Google Reader, scores of important Tweets from close friends, 2 or 3 screens of emails, and scores of irresistible updates on my Facebook home screen. And then the phone starts ringing. We love our electronic toys. Toddlers can manipulate iPads; Baby Boomers, challenged for years with programming their VCRs, are texting before breakfast. Grandma is Skyping with her grand children. Everyone is a geek and/or a social media guru. Millions of us have become homemade journalists, posting our wittiness and brilliance to our blogs for all the world to see. We’ve got to keep up with all, because if we don’t, we shall perish. …Or not.
If you are like my friend Bill Wendel and me, you have observed and maybe yearned for the blissfulness of modern Luddites: reading the newspaper in the morning, printing out their emails, taking notes with a pen and paper instead of Evernote, and being totally perplexed at why anyone would want to report what they had for lunch on that Twitter thing, or why they would get on the computer to make friends on the Facebook.
I am thinking about declaring a monthly personal Luddite day; leaving the laptop closed, and turning off my mobile phone, finding a newspaper to read – totally off the grid. Kind of scary. Maybe I’ll start with a Luddite hour.
Here’s another Luddite post from 2010: Luddites 2.0