You’re not alone. There’s a LOT more of us in this world than you might think!
I’ve never been a technophile and even as a teenager I was decidedly pessimistic regarding tech. I’ve always sensed, at least in a gut-way, that it aimed toward a horizon the opposite of where my heart was. It’s not to say that I criticized it from a well-worked out philosophical platform or from a life painstakingly conformed to pre-industrial circumstances, but intuitively, I just “knew” that this stuff is not good for us. The good life, as I saw it, had nothing to do with flying cars and robots and materialism, but with closeness to nature, nature’s God, and freedom. Even as a teenager, if I had time off of school and work, my impulse was to get out of the “world” and enjoy being in nature: fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, survival skills, or just relaxing. This has followed me all my life. The rat-race is not, and never has been, something I enjoyed or desired to have even one minute more of.
During high school, I chatted a good deal with one of my science teachers – who happened to be my father’s old science teacher – well, one day he gives me a big envelope and inside is the Unabomber Manifesto! (See, there are good teachers out there!) Now, this was right around the time that they finally caught Kaczynski. I was probably 14, and I remember reading this thing with such intensity and thinking: “Yes! Right on! Right again! So true! Yeah, that’s exactly how it is!” I couldn’t put it down. Plus, the guy was a mountain man and the FBI couldn’t catch him until his brother gave him away! Now that’s living!
As high school ended for me in the late 90s, I was the guy saying, “I can’t see why on earth anybody would want these stupid cell-phones! You guys look like a bunch of fools, always glued to your phones.”
GPS? “Are you kidding me?! Be a man and navigate for yourself!” I watched people go through the Blackberry craze. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I genuinely never got the fever for this stuff. Then I’d see news articles about these people camping out in the parking lot of Best Buy or wherever else to get the new phone or the new TV. Always thought it was sick. Really, why the hell would any healthy person do that? My wife and I never had a TV and never wanted our kids to sit in front of one nor play any video games. Why would anybody? It always seemed insane to both of us.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I myself wasn’t a mountain man. I wasn’t living an austere tech-free life. I wasn’t trying to prove anything by conscientiously abstaining from tech. I just didn’t want most of it and the rest I accepted only slowly and unenthusiastically. For example, I did start my own business and found that not having a cell-phone is bad for business, so I got a cell-phone. Not a smart-phone, just one of those early-2000s-style flip phones that can’t take decent pictures and can’t tell you how to drive.
I signed up for Facebook, but I’m only on it to promote my business and screw with leftists every once and a great while.
What I’ve found over the years is that while people thought I was a weirdo for being a technophobe 15 or 20 years ago, more and more people that I meet and talk to these days on a more serious level admit of a disenchantment with tech, especially if they have kids. Deep down, who can enjoy watching their legacy in this world glued to a screen and getting fat, weak, and dumb? I think what happens is that a larger portion of the population is more susceptible to the novelty of tech, and that’s what ropes them in. Human beings like a good miracle, and with there being “no God” anymore, you have to take your marvels wherever you can get them.
Remember when smartphones first came out – you had people excited about the tiny screen and you could surf the web by pressing tiny buttons on the tiny screen on your phone (provided you had 21st-century fingers). This was huge! I laughed when I saw this fascination. My beefy, manly fingers (the product of a life of manual labor and years of outdoor life) were unable to touch only one key at a time! Hahaha.
[Laughs in Amish]
Most people realize there is a problem, but don’t think anything can be done.
People know on a gut-level that the modern world is an aberration. That’s why all dystopian fiction is set in a high-tech future. We should fully respect the size of the challenge of having a meaningful effect on the modern world, but we should never despair and think it is impossible. Always remember that deep down, most people suspect that we are on the wrong course. Most people know we are getting fatter, weaker, and dumber. They see themselves and their kids fat, weak, timid, and incompetent. If you run a business, or are close to somebody who does, you know how hard it is to find somebody who has the physical constitution to do basic work. So few people in the “first world” have any grit to them. You look upon any gathering of people – including other motorists on the drive to and from work – and find a large portion of them absorbed in their phones. Even parents at the beach or the park with their children are mesmerized by the screen instead of spending the very limited time that they have with their young ones. (Reduce this limited time greatly for the many divorced parents out there.) Almost everyone you know lives vicariously through TV series. This is very sad. Most likely, you have a hard time knowing more than one or two people who aren’t on drugs of some sort – drugs whose explicit purpose is to help people tolerate life, that is, tolerate life in a world that is supposedly made great by modernity and science. You read headline after headline about technological advancement that clearly threatens to melt away what is left of human dignity and freedom. It’s easy to feel daunted, even hopeless. I’ve had these conversations with people about the so-called unstoppable march of “progress”.
“Well, I agree that it’s messed up, but there is nothing you can do about it,” they say.
I get this from a lot of people. First of all, when pro-tech people try to tell you to calm down because we “aren’t really being enslaved by technology” just realize that there is no better example of slave mentality than the very popular sentiment “it’s messed up, but there is nothing you can do about it”. If you talk about de-industrializing the world, de-teching the world, most people today will write you off as an idealist or a kook.
Let’s always remember something very important about understanding human behavior: mostly, people defend that which has been sustaining them or is expected to sustain them. The vast majority of human political philosophy and political history can understood better by this interpretive maxim than by any other I am aware of. If, for instance, you imagine that leftist radicals are rioting because they have carefully analyzed tomes of Marxist philosophy and tomes of opposing thought from, say, the Austrian School of Economics, and after years of rigorous study decide Marx was right, then you are badly mistaken about how people develop a sense of political identity. First people develop an idea of who they are on a very primal level – this starts at a very early age – and as best anybody can tell, a significant portion of this development is driven first by biological and subconscious factors, with external or superficial factors, such as education, playing only a secondary role. Trying to “argue” a person from the Marxist camp into the libertarian camp through finely-tuned intellectual arguments is a waste of time.
Here there are people who are going to say, “But wait, I know this girl who was pretty liberal and then she started dating this conservative guy and now she’s conservative!” This does happen from time to time, but you are mistaken if you believe that the reason for the girl’s change was finely-tuned intellectual arguments. This girl has doubtless heard devastating rebuttals to her liberalism all her life and they did nothing. On the contrary, this change of hers took place through these stages. (1) Physical attraction – entirely, or nearly entirely, a biological thing. (2) Physical intimacy eventually leading to a growing sense of (3) trust in this man. It should be noted, that this trust is a feeling. The reasons for it cannot be well articulated with words – both scientists and poets fall short. But this trust, if it lasts long enough will permit the women to see her man’s right-wing outlook as not threatening at all – even beneficial. After all, he’s not one of these left-wing beta faggots, so naturally having rare access to his masculine qualities and their practical advantages is a good thing. Finally, if the trust is satisfied for a sufficient time, then (4) the gut-level change is translated into rational language. The girl may even become an ardent advocate for ideas she once denigrated. People defend that which has been sustaining them or is expected to sustain them.
Usually, there are people who object to this explanation of human affairs. It is often regarded as cynical and as brutal materialism. Even some materialists like to imagine that things like love and personal philosophies have at least a hint of something sublime and physically indiscernible in them. “This just sounds so ‘What’s-In-It-For-Me?’!” I understand, but I believe that deeper thinking on this shows these objections to be unnecessary. For example, while it may be true that certain individuals have taken WIIFM to destructive excesses, it should also be carefully noted that a refusal to come to healthy terms with WIIFM is very destructive as well. Why allege that WIIFM is only materialistic? After all, God granted you one unique life to live, so why should it be considered a lowly, brutish thing to have so many impulses to cherish and protect it? Why should it be viewed as bad that subconscious trust must be established long before ideas are exchanged? Who’s to say trust should not be regarded as a currency, superior to ideas, in the human realm? A child trusts his mother’s breast long before he starts to intellectually know who his mother is. In all creation myths that I am familiar with, God creates man from the earth. Why then, should we shrink from the suggestion that basic earthly drives such as self-preservation play such a fundamental role in how we interact with our surroundings?
The idea that nothing can be done about the onward march of tech is wrong – hilariously wrong. It is 100% possible to stop and reverse “progress” provided the labor expended toward this aim is always conscious of the fact that the world must constantly be confronted with WIIFM, not with nerdy intellectual approaches but with approaches that aim right for the guts, right for the heart, and that they come away from it feeling that they are getting a shit deal in this progressive tech world of ours. People will not remember much of what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel. By the way, you might not be aware of this, but massive amounts of propaganda and government coercion attended the transformation of traditional societies into industrial ones. The current state of affairs, bent way the hell away from what could be called normal, exists as it does because of a deliberate and herculean effort to make it this way. You must always remember, that in opposing it, you are not opposing that which is normal, rather you are opposing a freak, you are opposing a massive, but nonetheless, very un-normal state of affairs. Many people are already away of this. On a gut-level, they don’t trust tech and don’t want everything it’s shoving down their throats. You can see it in uncountable small examples. They are reluctant to ditch the whole thing though because they are alienated from a natural, traditional alternative.
The pro-tech people evidently imagine themselves to be destined for that great and exceedingly rare fortune of being able to navigate dashingly through a world whose accelerating transformations may very well harm others but not them. Such people, we might say, are extremely optimistic souls. And from this we might deduce that “idealist” is meaningless as an epithet. For who is the idealist, the person who thinks his hope for a secure vocation that offers a sense of fulfillment is not a vain one or the person who thinks something can, and out to, be done to halt and reverse this progress? The “lower” jobs, say, driving a truck, are not what the technological optimist has in mind when imagining his own future livelihood. It’s easy for him to assume the attitude of an aloof superior and essentially say, “Don’t trouble your little head, my boy, robots may take over trucking, but you’ll get Universal Basic Income and that ought to keep you happy!” Yet somehow he doesn’t like the thought of settling for UBI himself when artificial intelligence takes over “higher” jobs like coding! Self-respecting people, be they truckers or IT guys want more out of life than to be a chump who settles for a booby prize – and that’s all that UBI is – a booby prize to those whose access to a dignified livelihood has been denied by the rapid evolution of technology.
Having said that, let’s work this a step further by going back to the assertion that, for the most part, people defend that which has been sustaining them or is expected to sustain them. Sustain them in which sense: the merely physical or something more? Which sustenance is the one the old proverb elevates: the mere fish, or the fisherman’s craft? Right now we are at a time when these issues are not yet at the center of most people’s attention, at best they are in the periphery, but once huge swaths of humanity which have not historically been welfare leeches get their fishing tackle forcibly taken from them and instead get their daily fish provided to them by the system, people will be undergoing a soul-busting loss of the kind of sustenance which supersedes the physical. Now, given this situation – a situation which is expected by all the leading tech forecasters – it is not so crazy to foresee an enormous army of angry people eager to actively reclaim that which can sustain not only their bodies but their pride as well. Once people properly identify that which truly can sustain them, i.e., a pre-modern life, they will fight heroically for it.
But the point that really needs to be emphasized is this:
The only sure way to render something impossible is to believe it is impossible.
Just because a task is large doesn’t mean it is impossible. History is full of enormous and improbable events. The industrialization of man is one of them. If we convince enough people that the way to having a worth-while life, a life that exclusively offers meaningful and needful sustenance, is to overturn modernity, then it can happen. Look around you. People are in really rough shape. People are hooked on opiates, both opioid-type and electronic-type, drugs whose explicit purpose is to help people tolerate life! Life simply doesn’t work for a growing number of people. Suicide, rampages, overdoses, broken homes, depression, anxiety, sexual disphoria, etc. The world is coming undone. The vast majority of technological innovation is focused on fixing the damages of the previous technological fix.
It’s very important to note and to emphasize over and over again, that this state of affairs is the exception, the extreme exception, to the long course of human history. In anthropological time, humans have been insane for only the last 5 minutes. I see no reason for letting a momentary stumbling determine the boundaries for what is considered “normal” and what should be expected as a continuation of this “normalcy”. And no, I don’t utopianize the pre-modern world. To be sure, it had its demerits, but at least people were not poisoning the world with radioactive waste and burning away years of their life on video games. People had spirit. People had culture. People had crafts and trades – ancient and inherited ways of living – that they could take pride in and derive their own sustenance from. People were surrounded by nature and wonder. People had intelligence, cunning, and wisdom. This is something worth pursuing.
Always believe this is possible and worth doing. Don’t die before doing something powerful and positive in your life.