Sunday, April 1, 2012

Confessions of a Fuddy Duddy

It occurs to me now and then that my life is well... umm... different than the lives most Americans lead.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my quirky little life, but sometimes I just feel like I have a really hard time relating to the people around me.

My personal opinion is that there is great power in opting out, so I thought it might be fun to list some of the ways that I just refuse to play along with this crazy culture of ours.

Let's see... where to begin. Oh yes... the blinking boxes.

I have never used an iPod, or iPad, or iPhone, or iAnything for that matter. This includes knock-off brands of all of the above. And blue-tooth devices? I'm still not sure exactly what these are, but suffice it to say I don't own one.

In general, I just don't see the point to any of these devices... at least for me. I mean, I seldom leave the house, and when I do it's because I want to go somewhere else. I guess it just seems to me that if you're gonna take the trouble to go somewhere, well, you might as well be there as opposed to trying to take your little world with you every place you go. I dunno... maybe I'd feel differently if I was forced to be out and about every day.

I've also never sent a text message.

Honestly, I have no clue.

I have received one text once... but only because it was the only way the phone company could send me some important activation code for my account - seriously? Anyhow, I had to call tech support and have them talk me through the process of reading the message. I'm sure they all had themselves a good chuckle.

I've also never used a GPS.

I frankly didn't realize that these things had become so ubiquitous until I joined FreeCycle and everybody just assumes that you have one. I've just gotta say... really? I mean really? I suppose I could see it if you had to drive to meetings in unfamiliar territory all the time but are people really so ignorant of their surroundings that they can't find their way around town without a satellite device?

Anyhow, speaking of driving... I've mentioned before that I drive less than 1000 miles per year.

I'm not really trying to conserve, I just don't have any place to go. The only real drawback here is that my battery tends to get run down... CatMan got me a charger though, and it works well. But really, I just don't understand the whole "car culture" thing.

I've never had a commute that was more than about 10 miles. I mean really, truly, is it worth it? There's pretty much nothing I hate more than sitting in traffic, and I just can't imagine subjecting myself to that sort of torture on a daily basis. Plus the time and money? I've never really understood what compels people to live that way... if I really had to have a job, I'd get one close to home, or get a home close to the job.

And speaking of jobs, y'all know I don't have one, but the other thing is I've never had a job for a for profit corporation.

Well, that's not exactly true... I did have a series of part time jobs as a kid for various newspapers, fast food chains and insurance companies (mom worked in insurance and got me temp jobs now and then.) Those experiences were enough to scare me away from corporate America for good. Suffice it to say, I couldn't stand the phony world of pantyhose, uncomfortable shoes and stuffed shirts.

Speaking of shirts... I've never been to a dry cleaner.

Eee Gads! Just walking past the place I inhale enough fumes to give me a migraine, why on earth would I want to wear clothing that had just been doused in that sort of chemical soup?

Of course, I've never ironed either.

Well, that's not exactly true... Every 10 years or so, some important event will roll around where I think I need to iron my clothing, but inevitably I put more wrinkles in than I take out so honestly, I don't see the point.

I haven't been on an airplane since 1993 when I had to go to Portland for a folk music conference - yes, there's nothing like seeing Pete Seeger running a booth to highlight the true meaning of folk music. Actually, I haven't been out of the state of Colorado since 1993... or stayed in a hotel, or done any of those travel type things. CatMan and I have gone camping a few times, but honestly, I just don't have the desire to go anyplace. It always baffles me when stories about airline security and prices are considered newsworthy.

So I am left to assume that most people travel on a regular basis, but I just don't get it. Frankly, sealing oneself into a migraine inducing, vomit provoking tin can and hurling oneself across the sky just isn't my idea of fun! And don't even get me started about trying to sleep in a strange bed or being forced to eat restaurant food.

And speaking of restaurant food, I probably only eat out 3-4 times per year. CatMan and I have one Chinese restaurant that we like, and occasionally friends will drag us somewhere. But honestly, I just don't consider it to be fun. It's generally a challenge for me to find something on the menu that won't send me to the ER with an anaphylactic reaction, and the chairs always give CatMan's back a problem. Plus... have you seen the prices?

And speaking of not going out. I got a call from the Nielsen corporation the other day wanting to survey me about my movie going habits.

Now I LOVE movies, but I don't think I've been to the theater in well over 10 years. Why bother when you've got Netflix? Come to think of it, the last time I went to the movies was in 2001 when my parents and I went to see the IMAX cave movie because some of my friends were in it. The Nielsen folks were incredulous... oh well.

But I also don't watch TV except for the "news" (if you can call it that.) I mean really? Seriously? People watch this stuff? Every once in a while I'll catch bits and pieces while flipping channels and I generally recoil in horror. And what's the deal with all the talent shows?

Didn't we get enough of that in high school? And when did squawking like an injured goose become a sought after singing style? I just don't get it.

I could go on and on, but I think you're starting to get some idea of the depth of my fuddy-duddy-ness. I dunno, maybe this is all just evidence that I'm a boring person.

But here's thing... it just seems like all of this technology, and running around is designed for one main purpose: to keep people distracted.

And maybe that's just how this society works. You set up a world where people basically live these miserable lives, where everything is ruled by the corporate overlords, and people are forced to work more hours than medieval serfs or colonial slaves... so to keep people in line you provide a series of distractions.

I realize that may sound just a tad bit cynical, but I can't help it.

Anyhow, if opting out of all of that makes me a stick in the mud, a fuddy duddy or a dork, then it's a title I wear with pride. Personally, I'd rather be a happy dork than cool and miserable any day!

How about you? Has anyone else out there found ways to opt out of the madness we call modern society?


  1. I thought I was so clever, finding a house that I loved n a walkable neighborhood with a bikeable commute and lots of companies nearby that needed people with my skill set. Then I got laid off and took the first decent paying job I could find, even if it does mean a hellacious commute. I think if I couldn't take the train, I'd probably have said no and kept looking. Now I have built-in reading and writing time each day.

    The other day, I drove my car to work. It felt like such a novel experience! I did listen to the traffic report from a "fair and balanced" news radio station. I don't know if it was all that balanced-- they kept telling me to stay to the right. Hmph.

    1. I am really in awe that you are able to tolerate your commute & the hideous schedule that it requires of you. I think I'd choose food stamps before I could make myself do it. Taking the train would make it significantly less horrible, but I still don't know if I could handle it...

  2. LOL! We were just having a discussion about TV this evening at dinner (which, I may point out that all children and parents were seated at the table for a home cooked meal!). We had the weather channel on earlier and had seen a commercial for some device that would simultaneously record up to six programs at once. Um... I can't usually fine ONE that I want to watch, much less record.
    You're not alone in your 'differentness'. I actually have a 'commute' now that we live in the country. But my hubby drives me the 2 miles to the bus stop every morning. People are often shocked that I still ride the bus. 'Why don't you drive in?" Let's see.... I would have to drive to the other side of town, park in a commuter lot and STILL need to ride a bus to work. I don't think so.


    1. Ha! I saw the same commercial and had much the same reaction. I mean, even if you could find 6 things to record, when would you ever find the time to watch it all!

  3. Well, I was with you about half way through. No cell phone, no MP3 device, no laptop or iPad, no GPS. I haven't flown in nearly 20 years. Don't want to go anywhere far away, don't really like to fly since I wasn't born a bird, can't afford it & won't fly since I can't smoke on the plane any longer.

    I stayed in a hotel when my AC died and it took nearly a week to fix it. I took the dogs with me because they couldn't stand no AC either. Still had to come home to feed the cats & clean litter boxes in 90 something degree heat.

    I've always driven to work - that's just how it's done. When I moved to Orlando in 1980, we bought the house we could afford. It wasn't terribly far from my office. I quit my job in 1993 to work for a non-profit that was twice as far away. Couldn't afford to move closer, so I stayed put. I've never taken public transit.

    I used to go to the movies all the time. I haven't been in 2 years. I don't like crowds & it's too darn expensive now. But, I prefer the big screen to the TV screen. I refuse to watch GWTW on TV. Clark Gable MUST be 2 stories tall. Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.

    I'm a TV junkie, but my cable will be disconnected on April 7th. I refuse to pay $75 a month for standard cable. I grew up in the days of FREE TV. I don't have Netflix & have never used Red Box. I have my Buffy & West Wing DVDs. That should keep me busy for a while. Plus most shows are available online now anyway.

    I rarely go out to eat. Way too expensive and relatively few veggie restaurants anyway. And the ones we have aren't always all that great. Problem is, I hate to cook & clean up & wash the dishes too. But, I have enough fat to live off of for several months anyway.

    My shopping is basically limited to every 2 weeks. The majority of the money spent on critter food & cat litter. When you are feeding a herd of cats, it gets expensive. There's no way to lug all those items home on a bus. I basically drive to work daily & shop payday week. Otherwise, I stay home. The older I get, the less I enjoy socializing and going out. Hermit suits me just fine.

    1. Hermits unite!!!

      Congratulations on dumping cable! The prices are really getting ridiculous, aren't they?

      I have a device called a Roku player that cost about $50 and lets me stream Netflix to my TV. Totally worth it. I also got a video card for my computer with an HDMI output so I can watch online things on the TV instead of the computer.

      But really, the library has a HUGE selection of DVD's, and here in Denver I can place a hold online and they send me an email when it arrives at my neighborhood branch.

      I have a little rabbit ears antenna which gets amazingly good reception so I can watch the weather and, of course, the Broncos!

  4. Love this post, but that's because I tend to "opt out" in many ways as well. Especially love what you said about if you're going to go somewhere, go there and be present, don't take your little world with you. Amen!!!

    No smart phone, and without meaning to sound 80, I really resent the intrusion in both personal and professional worlds. I used to meet a friend for coffee for maybe an hour every few weeks, and without fail The Phone (hers) sat on the table between us (!)like a centerpiece, and if it buzzed, she'd grab it and text, etc. Didn't seem to see anything wrong with it. I found it extremely rude. Seriously, you can't shut the world off for an hour to catch up with a friend?? The 20 somethings I work with about wear out the carpet tracking back and forth to check their phones during work (can't have them on their person so they are in purses and desks). I've joked about putting a counter on them to see how often they do this. My best guess is at least 50x in 4 hours (nope, not kidding). My phone is off and in my purse while I'm working. I can't even tell you how much time I would lose if I checked my phone as often as those 2 do.
    I've ironed once in the past 15 years. I haven't flown since 1985; I'm a chronic in-flight vomiter and 2 trips to Germany and back as a kid left a lasting impression on me.
    We don't have call waiting on our landline; most people think we are really strange for that. No cable, and we largely quit going to movies a year ago when we bought our Roku. I quit FB and don't miss it; I don't tweet, and I condensed my stray email accounts down to one. I also don't do e-readers; I bought one used on ebay, tried it and hated it, so I re-sold it. To me, it was yet another screen in my life.
    A few days per month hubby and I have a "no screens" day on a weekend; no computers, no cell phones, no TV. It is like a balm on my soul; I spend 4-6 hours per day typing non-stop on a computer (medical transcriptionist) and to totally unplug is heaven.

    1. Ha! I somehow ended up with call waiting when I decided to "bundle" my land line and DSL (which was supposed to give me this fantastic $36.99/month deal which somehow actually costs upwards of $85/month - rip off artists!) Anyhow, I haven't any idea how to use the stupid thing, so when it beeps at me, I generally become a tad bit apoplectic and/or accidentally hang up on someone.

      I nixed FaceBook too... really... I don't need to be making small talk with jerks who wouldn't give me the time of day back in high school. I have a Twitter account but I only got it so I could test out how the backgrounds worked for one of my web pages. The entire concept seems sort of ludicrous to me... and I have no earthly idea what those pound signs mean.

      I saw a thing on TV once where a high school teacher challenged his kids to go for a whole week without texting, FB or Twitter. Most couldn't even make it an hour! They interviewed a few of the kids and they were saying things like "this must be what it was like back in the olden days..." Oh my!

  5. Wow, I am so glad there is someone else like me in this world!

  6. I'm a bit like you- no i-anything, only Netflix, not big into eating out (although our families are), not a huge traveler, don't have a GPS thing (really just map it & write down the directions!), hate going to the movie theater, hated working for corporations, etc. I guess I am a fuddy-duddy.

    However, I don't agree with the last part about just trying to keep ourselves distracted. I firmly believe that we humans generally NEED to be active/busy. Since the industrial revolution, HOW we do that has drastically changed. Instead of having to work a field or tend to the house, kids, animals, or cooking all day, we now have too much space to fill. Evolutionarily, we are designed to do--to keep reaching for our survival. Since survival is generally f*cking easy in these parts, we are a bit lost as a society. I've realized that I CHOOSE to be busy, but also engage in activities that are helpful to others and/or myself. When I lose the busyness, my anxiety goes up. Sorry to blabber on about this, but I just wrote a post on how doing can actually be better than "being" all the time lol!

    1. Well, I'm not exactly sure how to respond because the truth is that I could write a novel on business and its relationship to emotions in our culture. Some of this may just boil down to semantics, but basically, I used to LOVE to be busy. I thought I hated feeling overwhelmed all the time, but in reality I craved business, and went out of my way to create a life in which every minute was full.

      In fact, when I quit my job, I think the hardest part was adjusting to "simply being." But here's the thing... the reason it was so hard is that when I wasn't busy, I felt anxious, and I really, REALLY didn't like feeling anxious. And to tell the truth, anxiety was just the tip of the iceberg, because the anxiety was really just masking all of the other emotions that I had successfully buried with my busy life.

      I guess I think that when it comes right down to it, "being" and "doing" are really more of a state of mind than they are an activity. And thinking and analyzing are pretty much as far from "being" as you can get.

      To me it all boils down to this. The only thing we really have is our emotions. But our culture teaches us to try to control, and analyze and think through our emotions rather than simply feel them. But the truth is that feelings just are. You don't get to choose what you feel. If you stub your toe and it hurts like hell, well... it hurts like hell, and it's just gonna hurt like hell until it doesn't anymore. You can choose to ignore it, or avoid it, or distract yourself from it... but the pain is still there.

      And as far as I can tell, emotions are pretty much the same. And when I say that, I mean that we don't get to choose them, but I also mean that they are a physical thing that we feel in our bodies. So the goal, for me at least, isn't to try to make the "bad feelings" go away (by staying busy or by analyzing them or by any other strategy) it's to feel all of my emotions, no matter how ugly or uncomfortable they may be.

      It's taken a lot of work, and a lot of support from CatMan... and I'm certainly not "cured" of my instincts to run away from my feelings. But I've found that when I am willing to really face the anxiety, and actually truly feel it, as well as the feelings underneath it, absolutely magical things happen. Intractable situations suddenly have resolutions, persistent fears and anxiety miraculously evaporate, and I realize that the "bad feelings" are never as bad as the damage caused by trying to get away from them.

      I'm not saying that I think people should sit around twiddling their thumbs all day... mindful work is one of the most grounding activities that I know. But for me, the key to it all is to be emotionally present... to turn off the inner dialog & really feel what is happening in my body & spirit while I work. And all of that, for me at least, just isn't possible when I'm engaged in being "busy."

    2. OK... make that all "busyness" not "business". My next post: Confessions of an Abysmal Speller!

    3. I definitely agree about learning to allow the emotions to be (after going to different therapists for years, I finally found one that said my emotions weren't "wrong" and to accept was all in how I dealt with them). However, in my definition of "being", I mean not being physically active, so sitting and analyzing the world is included in "being". And that is my problem-I hyper-analyze, which leads me to rarely "doing". I think with the popularity the field of psychology has gained, it has trained us to over think our emotions and subsequent actions. Thus why I love animals--they feel, then sitting around for days questioning their next move. It's funny because most people believe our emotions are so much deeper than animals, but I believe that we just have more words to describe and confuse them. Due to the lack of complex communication, animals actually receive the benefit of not over-complicating their lives. I could seriously go on about this all day! All of this to say, I think "doing" not sitting around analyzing life all the time is actually what we are meant to do and in my case, what is best for my psyche. A better description is here:

    4. "...why I love animals--they feel, then sitting around for days questioning their next move." I couldn't agree more!

  7. Can I be a fuddy duddy, too? My lifestyle still has a ways to go -- I fly maybe once a year or once every other year, we eat out once or twice a month, I actually do iron (but only if I'm sewing). But no GPS, no TV, no tablet. When I do see advertisements, I'm often astounded by what shops are selling and why they think anyone would buy it. For example, Safeway's ad in the Sunday paper had a $10 muffin tin that had Easter egg-shaped cavities. That set me off an on a rant to Kevin about my inability to understand why anyone would put life energy into something so trivial and useless.

    I agree consumerism is a huge distraction that keeps us from looking too closely at our underlying emotional problems and prevents us from finding more constructive solutions.

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      You totally crack me up. I hereby confer unto you the title of fuddy duddy! (Didn't realize I had that authority, but I'll do it anyway.)

      And in terms of the muffin tin... well, think of it this way, at least it wasn't a chia pet!

  8. I'm very surprised to know that you opt out of so much gagetry. I recall one of your jobs is to make database tables for the net.. That sounds super complicated to me. With all your web endeavours condsidered, I thought used be a tech and gadget whizz. Personally, I don't have a smartphone but I do recognise the utility of it.
    Liked the grandpa cat pic!

    1. I know... do you think it's possible to be both a geek and a Luddite at the same time? I just don't understand the whole "portable life" syndrome that is so popular these days.

  9. I just found your blog and I totally and completely love it. I think you would really really like the writings of a guy named Joe Bageant, RIP. He hits on some of the themes re: technology distracting us from the reality of the "work gulag" and also the craziness we are engaging in environmentally, ethically, globally, politically. Look him up, most of his essays are online and some are priceless. One favorite of mine, published not long before his death, was "America: Why are your peeps so dumb?" I was riveted by his easy-to-read book "Deer Hunting for Jesus." He's one of the keenest social/cultural critics of our time, or was.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check it out... the titles alone make me think he is worth reading!

  10. This is a fantastic list! I don't see the need for a smart phone either... I do text people occasionally, but not half as much as my friends think I should. I think I've spent about £50 over the past two years on my phone, and some of my friends spend more than that every month. I travel because it's been a major part of my life since I was a baby, and I don't have a true 'home' at the moment, but when I settle down I can potentially see myself staying put like you.

    1. When I was younger, I thought that all I ever wanted was a backpack, a Eurail pass, and a youth hostel membership. But after a while I came to the conclusion that people are just people, and places are just places. I guess I got it out of my system, although I'm really glad to have the perspective that experiencing other cultures gave me.

      But once I figured out that I didn't have to be hopping all over the globe, or crazy busy with work in order to set limits on how much of my time I would share with the world, I became an incurable homebody!

  11. "And maybe that's just how this society works. You set up a world where people basically live these miserable lives, where everything is ruled by the corporate overlords, and people are forced to work more hours than medieval serfs or colonial slaves... so to keep people in line you provide a series of distractions."

    PREACH. I haven't found a way out. Well, that's not true. I didn't stay on the path, so I've had to stay in the game. Insert dramatic sigh.


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