Apologetic temperance

At The Frailest Thing, LM Sacasas has a post on digital detox provoked by this New York Times piece by Kevin Roose. The whole thing (in both cases) is worth reading. I found this Sacasas observation resonated:

It’s always interesting to me to note the preemptive framings such pieces feel they must deploy. They reveal a lot about their rhetorical context. For example, “I confess that entering phone rehab feels clichéd, like getting really into healing crystals or Peloton.” Or, more pointedly, this: “Sadly, there is no way to talk about the benefits of digital disconnection without sounding like a Goop subscriber or a neo-Luddite. Performative wellness is obnoxious, as is reflexive technophobia.”

The implicit fear that commending tech temperance might earn one the label of neo-Luddite is especially telling. Of course, the fear itself already cedes too much ground to the Luddite bashers and to the Borgs, who use the term as an a-historical slur.

Those of us who have reservations about the direction technology takes us often adopt this apologetic, throat-clearing tone. The fear of seeming Luddite or in some way anti-progess haunts us. Why? Why is this fear so intense?

One could speculate. One could speculate that our culture is replete with rather vapid yet pervasive buzz about disruption, change, the folly of trying to keep things the same. Change is the only constant, that sort of thing.

Or maybe it is something totally other.

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