March 25, 2007

Neo-Luddite Day?

Apparently, Saturday was “Shutdown Day.” In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s the opportunity to entertain the insulting suggestion that you aren’t smart enough to know when to use your computer.

Their website was cutely still down on Sunday because they loved their computer-free day so much that they took an extra day off. I suggest the illegitimate brain-parents of this idea — Dennis Bystrov and Michael Taylor — do us a favor and swear off computers and all electronic communications for the rest of their lives.

I’ve been hearing this general brand of bullshit since I started studying computer science. The prejudice against technology users and builders was often reflected in their opinion towards computer scientists. Clearly, they are a bunch of people who never go outside, never see enjoy art or literature, never get laid, only eat pizza, don’t care about the world, and can’t get along with other people.

And now - ye gods! - the disease is affecting normal people!

Shutdown Day brings a question to my mind: What kind of an idiot needs two wankers to tell him to turn off his computer? Most of my friends are at various high levels of technical proficiency. They all know when to turn off the computer to listen to jazz, make dinner, have a party, take a hike in the woods, watch birds, cook, gaze at the stars, read, work, imagine…

And they know when to turn on a computer to help themselves do all of those things as well. Computers are a tool. Having a specific day chosen by someone else on which you turn your computer off is like having a day when people tell you that you can’t use fire, electricity, a hammer or your common sense.

If you want to spend the day off the internet, by all means go ahead. I love a break from email now and again. Turn off the phone, curl up with a book and enjoy. But if you support Shutdown Day and lament the fact that so many people out there spend their time on computers, why not sign up to my newly envisioned social experiment: No Toilet Week. Since you don’t know when to turn your computer on and off, I don’t think you can be trusted about when you need to go to the toilet. So no toilets for you for a week. Enjoy the freedom of having me decide when you should use technology.

Posted by James at March 25, 2007 10:01 PM
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It's like how Donna and I always make sure to buy something on "Buy Nothing Day."

Posted by: DG at March 26, 2007 11:04 AM

I spent most of Saturday online, working on a recap, looking stuff up, doing work, reading sympathetic emails, feeling sorry for myself, etc. I also used my computer to order a pizza. I took a break to go outside and pick up dog turds. It was actually the perfect day to spend online, given my mood.

But I'm certainly grateful to these two goofballs for their concern. NOT. My only regret was that I could have spent the day outside with my laptop instead of inside, if I'd known how nice it was.

Posted by: Julie at March 26, 2007 12:11 PM

Heh. As I was reading, I was going to suggest "No Screwdriver Day". Clearly, you are more irked by this than I thought. And more cruel. :) Of course, you realize some moron is going to not use the bathroom for a week, require surgery for a ruptured intestine, and then successfully sue you because you told him not to crap.

Posted by: briwei at March 26, 2007 12:16 PM

I share your disrespect for these clowns. But a true Luddite would never throw a spanner into the works that produce such creative individual brilliance, James. Good on yer. See Against the Machine by Nicols Fox. I refuse to call the Shutdowners "Luddites." Or "Neo-Luddites" though. Did you see the commenters at who insisted they could never go without their computer for even an hour? Some were plenty scared. And scary.

Posted by: ThirdMate at March 26, 2007 12:37 PM

The bitterness of this blog has made me giggle.

Posted by: Keri at March 26, 2007 12:40 PM

I've been mostly trapped in bed since February 5'th. These nutcases can kiss my ass. I am thrilled I had a laptop on my lap to keep me occupied when I felt the need, to allow me to stay in touch with friends and family when I didn't have enough breath to speak, and so forth.

These jamokes are dinkwads... the pair of them.

Posted by: Chuck S. at March 26, 2007 12:42 PM

I guess it's harder to work to use computers to improve the world than it is to hide from them.

Posted by: James at March 26, 2007 1:04 PM

Hey I'm all for this! As long as I get to keep using the internet :)

The more nutjobs that don't use the computer because they think I'm a nerd the better! That's more bandwidth for me! Most cable/internet providers don't provision enough bandwidth for everyone to be using the internet at the same time...

Posted by: Jay at March 26, 2007 2:07 PM

If I'm not allowed to use the bathroom, then where am I supposed to use my laptop??

Posted by: julie at March 26, 2007 2:40 PM

Now, were we supposed to give up anything with a processor, or just the things on our desks? What ding-dongs. There's a funny and apropos quote in my literacy text, but it's downstairs and I'm too lazy to go get it, so I'll paraphrase -- there was a time when people panicked that computers were going to take over the world, but when it actually happened, nobody even noticed.

Posted by: Maggie at March 26, 2007 2:54 PM

Maybe I just don't get it. There's a day when everyone is supposed to shut their computers off? I guess I participated by default because we don't have a computer at home.

Why does there have to be a day for something? There are already plenty (see and )

Is this like the "No TV" week thingie that used to happen?

Look. If you want to use your computer, use it. If you don't, don't. If you think your kid uses the computer too much, grow some balls and shut off the computer (the same advice goes to the "no TV for a week" people).


Posted by: Patti M. at March 26, 2007 3:35 PM

The "Turn off your TV" worked out well for us because there used to be a really nice toy store in Swansea that would give children a gift certificate if they participated. I just enjoyed an excuse to go in the store! *sigh* Where have all the nice toy stores gone?? I think I would be sadder that my children have grown if they were still around. We used to go to the Emerald Square Mall and we'd go between Learningsmith, Hammett's Learning World, and at least two different science stores, and we were all so happy! The girls would play with the trains and we'd look around.

But back OT, I hate all the "days." Just one more excuse for the extroverts to harass the introverts, and for Hallmark to stay in business. They can all drop off the calendar as far as I'm concerned, and I'd give up my birthday and I'd gladly give up Mother's Day if it meant they all would disappear. Bah! Humbug!

Hey, let's start a "no day" day. Or would it have to be a year? Let's have a "no day" year.

Posted by: Maggie at March 26, 2007 3:58 PM

Oooo I like it no day year.

On the subject of great toy stores I would put in a plug for a former classmate (steve Delfino for those WPI alum out there) of mine who owns The Contruction Site in Waltham.

Awesome store for kids and adults alike. Chock full of all sorts of contruction and educational type toys/games etc. I love shopping for my nephews there. Makes me wish i could spend a day building stuff. If you are ever in the area check it out.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at March 26, 2007 4:13 PM

I want to put in a second for the Construction Site. That place is super cool. I could spend a lot there in both time and money.

Posted by: briwei at March 26, 2007 4:47 PM

Yay Construction Site! I bought a kewl "Crazy Inventor" Erector set there for a contractor I worked for.
Also: According to the ShutdownDay website, they're hawking the "National Laptop Foundation, a new non-profit organisation launching on World Earth Day, to help underprivileged children, the elderly and schools and doctors in third world countries have access to the internet, by recycling & refurbishing old unwanted & broken computers."

So, they give computers to people who will then be able to turn them off one day a year.

Posted by: ThirdMate at March 26, 2007 5:18 PM

I gave up long ago expecting people to be in any way consistent.

Maybe they should stick with the charity and drop the shutdown aspect.

Posted by: James at March 26, 2007 5:46 PM

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