Even young kids grow weary of modern life
Bill Henderson says you don't have to remember older technology to be disenchanted with modern life. "I find all ages, all kinds, young, old, everybody, who get tired of all the machines in their lives," Henderson says. Henderson, who runs the Pu...
Bill Henderson says you don't have to remember older technology to be disenchanted with modern life.
"I find all ages, all kinds, young, old, everybody, who get tired of all the machines in their lives," Henderson says.
Henderson, who runs the Pushcart Press in Waynescott, N.Y., is editor of "Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club." Published in 1996, the book is a collection of Neo-Luddite letters, essays, cartoons and commentary.
It features work by well-known cultural critics like Sven Birkerts and Neil Postman and letters from everyday people who have had enough of computers and other modern machines.
At 62, Henderson still writes on a manual typewriter. His publishing company doesn't have a Web site, although there is one for the Pushcart Prize, which honors work from small publishing houses.
He says he's heard from kindred spirits as young as 10 or 11 years old. Even at that age, youths see computers as unnecessary.
"When they're young, they like to work with their hands, finger-painting, that sort of thing," he says. "The real sin to me is to put this machine between them and their art, or have canned art, which I think is a crime."
Henderson says he and other Neo-Luddites suspect that the technology push during the last 20 years has been a scam.
"I'm just sick of being sold to and lied to," he says. "I don't need all this stuff and a lot of people in this country are inclined to feel this way."
Particularly in the early years, consumers were told personal computers got better every year and they had to have the newest computer to keep their businesses from failing and their children from flunking out of school, he says.
"Anybody connected with it is part of this whole sudden industry that made a necessity out of a machine," he says.
His argument is that computers aren't necessarily, well, necessary.
"Good technology is technology that's really useful," he says, like medical advances that saves lives. Bad technology, on the other hand, gets in the way.
That started with the automobile, he says. "We don't walk even down the block because we have this thing called the car."
And even some technology that has become part of the fabric of everyday life is harmful, he says, pointing to television as an example.
"We haven't even begun to think how awful that thing is," he says. "We've just kind of given up. There's still wonderful arguments against television, but nobody seems to care any more."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541