Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Walden – 2016 Style

Carolyn J. Rose


Recently yet another acquaintance criticized me for not having my cellphone turned on all the time, and for having no idea how to send a text or a tweet. Since the statement was about her, not me, I didn’t respond. But, believe me, I was tempted to point out that the issue was her convenience, not mine.

The fact is, I don’t want to be constantly connected. I enjoy the hours spent without a phone ringing—not matter how cute the ringtone may be. I enjoy silence or, if the window is open, the sounds of the birds, the breeze, and my neighbors as they go about their days.

My neighborhood is a long way from Walden Pond, and yet I feel a kinship with Henry David Thoreau. Although he lived alone at the pond for two years, he was only a mile from his nearest neighbor. He had visitors. He walked to town. He joined his family for an occasional dinner. But, by and large, he stripped his life down to what he felt was necessary.

So, when I consider the criticism of those tethered to their technology, I keep Thoreau in mind. Would the man who said “inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract us from serious things” have owned a cell phone? Would the man who said “men have become tools of their tools” have kept his cellphone on 24/7? Would the man who said “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” buy a fancy case for his phone?

I’m pretty sure the answer to each of those questions is “No.”

So, I’m with Henry D. I’m keeping pace to a different drum. Think of my low-tech corner of the world as a kind of Walden, a place of refuge from a plugged-in, dialed-in, wired world, a place where I can be in touch only when I want to.