The Saratoga Sun -

Technology giving us more freedom or taking it away


October 16, 2019

Probably like a lot of people, he internet is key to my job. When it goes down, I find myself thinking how screwed I am for the day.

This technology and other types that didn’t exist as recent as 20 years ago, is truly amazing and a little scary sometimes.

As time goes by, I find myself having to embrace it or pay some sort of penalty.

Dealing with

technology today

One example is how I find myself paying higher prices at the grocery store because I don’t have the store’s app loaded into my “smart phone”.

I freely admit, I do my best to keep apps at bay on my calling device. I just don’t want more companies to access to my phone. There are enough already. Plus there are so many apps out there, I don’t even know what I can and can’t do.

In fact, I can be quoted as saying “My smart phone is always making me feel stupid.”

Actually, I am quite blown away at what can be done by phones and computers.

All this technology coming to our fingertips seems overwhelming to me and I deal with it by trying my hardest to live without as much tech as I can. It isn’t easy.

It is ironic that I got a head start on learning key boards before the dawn of home computers. You’d think I would have more comfort level as I have been been typing way before many of my peers.

I know at least two generations have no concept of not learning on computers, so I date myself when mentioning I learned to type in a typewriting class.

How I learned a


Yes, there was an actual class for typing in high school.

Not my idea to take it, let me make that clear. My mother won typing contests when she went to school. Her typing speed was 120 words per minute (wpm) on a basic typewriter. 160 wpm on an electric. She was adamant when I went to 10th grade this would be one of my studies.

At 15, going on 16, I wasn’t sure about taking the class to begin with, so I don’t think I gave it a chance. I liked that of the 60 or so kids (yep, I said 60 plus), about five of us were male. The ratio was great and I did take advantage of it.

Honestly, during that time in my life, I took advantage of anything that got me to meet girls and typing class was fine for that. As far as utilizing it for a skill; it couldn’t have been further from my mind. I left the class at a miserable 35 wpm. Average back then was 50 wpm.

Still, I was one of the few guys in high school that knew how to type at all.

In college I had a typewriter, but papers that had to be typed were far and few between. That changed dramatically when I got my English degree and started my masters program. I’m only talking a few years.

Believe me, I thank my mother for forcing that damn typing class on me.

I did take some classes at the University of Hawaii in the 1990’s that had me move up to an electric typewriter when doing papers. Research was done at libraries and by that time computers were available.

I liked going into the stacks of the graduate libraries of the universities I attended. There was something rich about being around all these books of different subjects. I would sometimes look at how many times the book would be checked out and when. I felt as close to scholarly as I ever will going down the rows of books, searching for information.

Looking it up on the internet doesn’t do the same thing.

Plus, I was the only one who knew what I was browsing. Now if I do a search on my laptop, it is sure thing a cookie is dropped here and there. Soon enough, some company has a bit of a profile on what I was doing. Saying all that, I am not anti-computer by any means.

I actually had my first computer before I moved to Hawaii, but I left it on the mainland because, back in the day, an electric typewriter worked fine for college and computers were a major investment and not very mobile. I definitely was not going to lug that monster to Waikiki.

This was before laptops.

Before email came

into my life

Living in Hawaii, Asia and Australia makes me appreciate the era of Skype and other long distance services we have today. My phone bills were huge back then, even though I kept in contact with friends through letters and post cards.

Speaking of snail mail, I have a drawer full of correspondence before the advent of email.

I probably received over 200 letter items a year (including holidays and birthday) from family and friends. I bet that number has shrunk to about 30. I can’t cry really, because I do the email thingie to keep in touch like everyone else.

My Facebook and Linked-in pages have me keeping up with double the amount of people through social media and email has supplanted me sending out cards and letters. Well, I do still mail a few Christmas cards out, but nothing like the productions from before.

Like my long distance service now, email has saved me a lot of money in not paying for stamps.

No streaming or

satellite for me

Another tech area I am hopelessly outdated is watching TV. I have no satellite or cable programing. There is no Netflix or Hulu in my household. My pads and laptops do absolutely no streaming.

My TV is pretty cool, only because of a birthday present. I have a Blu-Ray player not hooked up yet, mostly because the DVD player works fine and what few Blu-Ray discs I have included the DVD.

I realize where my lack of wanting to watch anything at home other than DVDs comes from; living in Asia and also great places like Hawaii and Australia.

Living in Hawaii, I didn’t have a TV. I saw very little television although I did do some extra work on the show “Jake and the Fatman.”

The way I looked at it, I was living in Hawaii so why would I watch TV? There was always something to do, day or night. In Australia I had a TV and I watched it sometimes, but again, I’m living in Australia in one of the best beach towns in the country. So the question again is why would I watch TV?

I did go to movies at both tropical places.

In Asia, TV was too much trouble to watch.

I can speak some Chinese, but I need the language to come at me slowly.

That doesn’t happen on TV. I had channels available to me, but other than wanting to give myself a Chinese lesson, I didn’t watch it. VHS and, later DVD’s, were everywhere in Asia and cheap, so myself and many expats, only watched movies. Later with the coming of age for DVDs, entire TV shows.

When I moved to Wyoming, I was gone a lot of the time and it just evolved over the years for me to not have cable or satellite no matter what deals were offered.

Being a dinosaur has

its freedom

Recently, I was reading about technology controversies with Apple, Google and Twitter. The actual stories don’t matter, but the gist of it all is how information is being gleaned from users. It made me really glad I am not on Twitter.

I wasn’t unaware data was being obtained by my internet usage, but I didn’t fathom the scope.

To be sure, I already stay away from tech where I really feel it is dangerous.

For instance, in China, I used WeChat for about two years.

It is platform like Skype only it is owned and run by the Chinese government. It is used for texting quite a lot too.

Then, it was revealed the Chinese government was taking information going between users. Think about being a business for a secon, and you are sending formulas or design info over this system.

None of my friends overseas will touch it, even if they live in China.

Asia is tech savvy and I have watched over the past two decades as more and more data is collected on people using smart phones, internet and computers by the governments.

What can be done through tech over there scares me.

I am no conspiracist theorist, but the less I use my computer, the better.

My footprint is going to be out there, because I can’t go off the grid. I don’t even want to. I will acknowledge, maybe I watched Terminator 1 and 2 a few too many times, but I truly feel the less tech companies know about my day-to-day life, the better.

It might put me behind on the newest shows and maybe I don’t get the instant gratification of social media, but that is fine with me.

The generations that have known no other way but to embrace the newest tech probably think I am a dinosaur for trying to hang back. There is also that saying about trying to teach an old dog new tricks. I am the first to admit I am no pup.

Tonight, I plan to go home and light a fire (now that winter is walking back into the picture) and pull out a book on something cool. Maybe I will watch a DVD. Either way, I will contentedly let the world go by without being on some sort of grid.

It is the sort of freedom, I cherish and don’t take for granted. It is like taking a hike by yourself. It is personal and nobody is watching.

In this day and age, that sort of freedom is getting rarer and rarer.


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