Do you ever feel like you’re under house arrest? You know, your every move watched, monitored and tracked. It must be terrible to be a prisoner in your own home, but aren’t we (at least to some extent) prisoners of our own technology? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
When I made my break for freedom, four years ago, one of the first things I did was to trash my cellphone. I hated that damn device with a passion, and I was finally able to exact my revenge. I remember the Battle Royale I had with my former employer when they “demanded” that I give them my cellphone number. I refused.
You have to they insisted. No I don’t I replied. But what if we have to reach you? Call my home phone I said. But what if you’re just out to lunch? Then I’ll be back in an hour. That’s unacceptable they said. I have a solution I offered, you buy the phone and pay the monthly bill and I will consider carrying it with me (unless I forget). End of discussion, end of career.
I’ve been on the road for four years now, traveling the world, and revelling in my freedom. My motto, my mantra, is to: Live Simple, Live Cheap, Live Free. A big part of that freedom is not being immediately accessible to anyone who wants to drop in on my life. Do you hear that JPMorgan Chase Bank? Yeah, I’m talking about you.
With today’s modern technology it is implied that anyone has the innate “right” to enter your life, to question, challenge and cajole. They don’t. You don’t. My life is once again my own, to do with as I please, how I please. No explanations or justifications required. I do what I do because I want to, it’s as simple as that.
I still have a love-hate relationship with my computer. I love that it gives me immediate access to the internet (when it’s working here in Latin America), I love that it allows me to process my photographic images in a virtual darkroom, and I love communicating by email. The written word has always been my chosen form of communication, I can explore a subject (or multiple subjects) in-depth. Tweeting, texting and all the rest—not for me thanks.
Facebook. What can I possibly say about Facebook? Addicting for sure, and gives me insights into your psyche that I would frankly prefer not to have. I have severed many (what I thought were friendships) relationships because of Facebook. I didn’t realize that you were a bigot, a racist, a narrow-minded, religiously intolerant fascist. Now I know. I have unfriended you. And good riddance, I don’t need you in my life.
If it weren’t for family, and a number of truly good friends, I would cut that tether too. I now have some control over who enters my life, and the effect they have upon it, but technology still holds me prisoner at times too. And I resent it. I don’t want to be accessible to every “wing nut” who wants to rattle my cage, I don’t have the time for it. These final years are precious to me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste them on dealing with absurdities. I look at the United States, my country, and I am filled with embarrassment. I left my home for a reason. End of rant.
Addendum: I just got back from getting a Bailey’s & Coffee here in Huaraz. A “gringa” from the States sat down at the table next to me, plugged an ear bud into her ear, and proceeded to carry on a very loud conversation that I didn’t want to hear. I had ordered my coffee, was enjoying the music, and then had to put up with her shit. Why is her shit more important than my peace and quiet? This happens all the time (even down here), in restaurants, the theater, on buses, everywhere I go. I resent having my space infringed upon to listen to some inane conversation about nothing. If you’re in a public venue right now reading this, look around you. Either you’re on the phone, or there are a half dozen people around you on the phone. Ask yourself, is that freedom or prison? Now I come to the end of my rant.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer and World Traveler