Technophobia: Am I Losing the War?

I tried to quit Facebook today. I wrote a nice message to all of my Facebook friends telling them that from now on they can contact me via phone and email. At the same time M was asking me to read him his new library book. I told him to wait a minute because I was deleting my Facebook account so that I wouldn’t be on my phone so much (I know, the irony of ignoring him to delete FB so I wouldn’t ignore him while on FB). He huffed and walked away and said: “but why would anyone want to delete their FB account? What if nice things happen?” I asked what he meant. “You know, like if someone has a baby and puts a photo on FB you won’t know there’s a baby there?”

I wondered quite how Facebook had insinuated its way so far into my four-year-old’s psyche that he couldn’t contemplate anyone not having it. When he was younger I remember his asking what Facebook was and my reply: “the end of civilisation as we know it.”

I have not managed to delete my Facebook account. I have instead managed to create a Facebook page for this blog and to create a Twitter account. I think I am losing my war with technology.

I am not sure why I am such a technophobe. I do remember swearing that I would never use DVDs. I didn’t see the point; it was a good few years before I moved on from VHS.

My husband finally bought a new flatscreen TV this year to replace the one we left behind in the US. I was fine with the hand-me-down boxy beast we inherited from my step-grandmother when she bought a new TV (which in turn replaced an even boxier beast we got off Freecycle) but apparently the words on the PS3 games were illegible on the old TV, hence the need for a new one.

I harbour the vaguest sense that “modern technology,” by which I mainly mean the internet and internet devices, heralds the end of civilisation. Like the people in Wall-e. We are going to end up like the people in Wall-e. This is why I tried to delete my Facebook account, not for the first time and I failed, not for the first time.

I have a strict “no photos of my kids on the internet” rule and am one of those annoying mothers who refuses to sign the photo consent forms at nursery. But my husband uploads our photos to “the cloud.” His argument being that if the house burned down or the computer got stolen we would still have our photos.

I also sort-of believe in The Matrix (which incidentally we watched the other night). I vaguely believe all dystopian technology-gone-wild movies in as much as you can believe that fiction prophesies reality.

I came across an entirely alien (to me) concept in the news this week in a discussion of “the internet of things,” which apparently is fridges, washing machines, TVs and other such machines that “talk to each other” via wi-fi. I cannot for the life of me think of anything more unnecessary or more creepy.

I don’t need my washing machine to “talk” to anything else, or to me. How would you even turn it on from out of the house anyway? What would be the point? Will it also load the clothes into itself and transfer them to the tumble drier when it’s done? Because I have to admit that would be pretty awesome.

When I read about technological developments like this I feel a little like Granny and Mr. Carson in Downtown Abbey glaring suspiciously at the telephone. I mean to say a 3D printer. A 3D printer! (to name another thing that made me incredulous).

I joined M the other morning playing Wii and PlayStation. I always tell him not to play it too much but then I was thinking that he loves it so why not join in with what he loves? I was terrible and he was good. Scarily good for a four-year-old. It reminded me of playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog with my mum back in the ’90s and her thinking she was getting killed by the flowers. Apparently you have to shake the remote to make Sonic snowboard. I was sitting there yelling “you haven’t told me what buttons to press, what do I press?” With M yelling back “I showed you already you just do this! *shakes remote*” until the commotion woke L who was asleep in his travel cot in the same room.

I still think that we are probably either in the Matrix already or heading in that direction, but perhaps my technophobia is getting in the way of my just calming down and living life in the time period I find myself in.

Surely M is not the only four-year-old with an iPod (my old one he found), a Nintendo DS (ditto), a PS3 (his dad’s), a Wii (his own), a sometimes-iPad (Grandma’s), and smartphones thrust in his direction at every given opportunity (when he asks unsuspecting family members if he can play on their phones when he knows I have said no more computer games).

I feel like I am fighting a losing battle but lately I wonder if it is a battle I should even be fighting. Maybe I just need to calm the f**k down about all the technology.

But I’m still going to try to stay off Facebook.

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Burnt Supper

British/American, postgraduate, wife, mother, dog-owner

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