Perfecto-Zizzbaum and Keeping the Grass Cut

“Definition of Luddite

one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest broadly one who is opposed to especially technological change. The Luddite argued that automation destroys jobs.”

This is an uncomfortable admission for me. I feel my hypocrisy down to my bones… just the other day, my quail encountered a neighborhood girl of comparable age who could not be lured away from her smartphone to play, to read, to do anything unrelated to TikTok or YouTube — to my kids, it was like meeting a martian, or Elton John. Someone so entirely different that it takes learning a new language to have a conversation. As I watched this interaction, I had a moment’s fear: this young woman found us dull to the extreme. This fact was not well hidden. And my heart sank at the thought that, having been given this reflection on themselves, possibly for the first time, they may have doubts introduced to their consciousness about the way we live, about the emphasis we place on human over technological interactions… that they would start to see their lives as dull, because it is not lived in the carpool lane of the information superhighway.

My quail do not own phones or tablets, and we have one television in the house, which doesn’t actually get TV reception, an old hand-me-down pulled from someone’s garage — we watch movies by hooking up a fake laptop to it, using a gigantic and thick black cable. I decline to discuss how long we maintained a VHS player. That laptop itself was only purchased within the past five years. Before that, we didn’t own a computer. I remember trying to purchase the computer at Costco and asking for the cheapest thing that would still do the job, and the salesman, obviously feeling his soul deadened by my failure to understand or be interested in the nuanced differences between devices, between gigs and gags and bits and bytes, speaking slowly and loudly to make sure I understood it was NOT a real laptop. It was a glorified smartphone.

“Does it have the internet?”

(Long sigh) “Nothing ‘has’ the internet. You can access the internet with it.”

“Does it have a tappy-sounding keyboard?”

Somewhere around here, he stopped answering and just began frantically searching for a pencil to put through his eye.

It turns out, though, that my worry was unfounded. The quail felt universal pity for this neighbor girl. How empty, how boring! And then were conversations, good ones, about whether the phone itself, which had somehow become a spare appendage for this girl, was the problem. Enter hypocrisy.

I explained that a phone is just a tool like any other. You can use a hammer to build a house or to smash a mailbox. And while I believe this, in practice, I struggle against technology and tend to be years behind in the digital revolution. When asked what kind of phone I have, the blood pounds in my ears while I try to figure out where I would look to find such information before I finally speak my truth: black. I have a black phone.

So imagine what a triumph it is for this recovering Luddite to purchase a second silver box! I have recently become convinced to write… a lot. Yes, I realize you probably think that’s what I’ve been doing here and surely this quantity of nonsense does not require further technology? True. But as a one computer house, we have a delicate balancing act with usage and so we decided to invest in a device to dedicate to my writing (more on that in the days to come) — and thus, I am writing this post on my newest technological venture, affectionately named Perfecto-Zizzbaum.

Names are key.

Years ago, in our first job managing orchards, the boss actually wasn’t a farmer and gauged how well the place was being run entirely on the state of the grass. If the grass was mowed and tidy, resembling a golf course more than an orchard, then he was convinced there was fruit-growing happening. The first few times the boss visited, the Beloved had his crew handling actual farming (weird, right?) and the grass was mildly overgrown, and he received a hearty chewing, so after that, he assigned one employee to be constantly mowing and received hearty approval and votes of confidence ever afterwards. I have a theory that the seemingly constant need for “updates” on our devices is basically digital grass cutting — keeping some kid living in his mother’s basement looking like he is actually doing something so that he can afford a steady diet of Cheese Nips. Since it honestly seems that every time an update is forced down my throat, something starts working worse than ever, this is the only reason I can think of for the seemingly constant need for them.

As we muscle through all the adjustments that come with the first week of school, I find myself thinking about updates. Do you suppose we slip into expecting “updates” before we can lean into full obedience? Are we filling our lives with empty updates — the emotional (or actual) spa days, the stepping away from our responsibilities, perhaps even our husband taking over our household duties after he has already put in a full day of work because we think we deserve a break? Do we believe that God will actually equip us for the good work He has prepared in advance for us to do… or are we looking to set the terms, to define what it really means to be equipped? I am not knocking taking breaks. I am challenging myself, and you, to be honest about our needs and about the expectations we are putting on others, and ourselves, and even on God. Am I fueling up my weary heart with the Word of God or mentally unplugging by mindlessly scrolling social media (or perhaps fill in the blank with comfort eating, with pedicures, with…)?

Take courage. Fearlessly embrace the calling God has given you and pour everything out before Him — He is the source of your strength and your joy! Only He can keep you running smoothly.

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