That I was an early adapter to blogging, is a complete co-incidence, a stroke of luck, or something like it. I'm not technologically savvy. Perched awkwardly on the very ledge between Gen X and the millenials, sometimes also referred to as "the iPod Generation", meaning anyone born after the year 1980, I've only ever managed to be on the cutting edge of technology once; sometime around 2006 when I was the first of my friends to buy both an iPod and a MacBook. Which was only because I'd never owned a computer before and was going to school for screenwriting. Oh, and because my Walkman from 1997 finally crapped out.
Fast forward two years and blogging was still somewhere between a hip fringe phenomenon and an incomprehensibly nerdy pursuit. Starting this log was possibly the last time ever that I'll get onboard a techno-social phenomenon on the ground floor. However even as blogs evolved over the next five years, changing appearances and styles, becoming more polished and professional, with bloggers investing in DSLRs and photoshop and professional web design, branding and narrowing and honing their content, I kept posting on my decidedly old-fashioned platform, writing about this, that and the other and taking pictures with my ancient point-and-shoot.
Part of it was that I figured early on that the increasingly sleek, commercial blogging was not improving that which I loved about the media, but another part was also my utter stubbornness when it comes to new technology. The idea that I would buy something as expensive as a digital SLR, for my hobby, or something as destructive as a new computer just because the old one crapped out, that we somehow need this technology to function in our daily environments, made me all kinds of rage-y and confused. I know, I know. Writing a blogpost about the evils of technology is incredibly redundant, but that really was my thought-process. There was no way in hell or hades that I was able to convince myself that these devices were anything more than pure frivolity.
I made do for ten months without my own computer, using public terminals and borrowing screen-time from friends, until I finally gave into my "need" for writing, work, blogging and Skype-ing my mom. In the intervening years since then, I've become a lot more dependent on this machine when I was on my old one. For one thing, I've somehow kept generating work for myself which required a personal computer. Let's not kid ourselves: were this thing to face its inevitable planned obsolescence today, I'd probably be using some other device to shop for a new one tonight.
Last summer I also realized that I had, quite unwittingly, gotten to a point where I "needed" a better camera to continue improving my photography, a hobby that blogging had nurtured into something I now enjoy immensely. Not only that but I felt like I really needed a better camera for my etsy photos and some other assorted projects. Mind you, I think my ancient point-and-shoot did me well in that I had to develop a visual sensibility and skill, in spite its limitations. Had I started out with a DSLR I think I wouldn't have learned as much, or be as good at it.
One of the fringe benefits of those ten months without my own computer was a quick and almost complete disengagement with Facebook. Without its presence on my laptop, I found myself less than curious about the babble of my newsfeed and more excited about connecting with people through email and blogs during my limited computer time.
However, upon returning to facecrack, I discovered, much to my puzzlement that everyone I knew seemed to suddenly be spending a lot more time on it, based on the amount of stuff popping up on my newsfeed. Honestly, I was a bit alarmed, picturing my nearest and dearest glued to their computer screens at all hours of the day. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what was happening: smartphones. They were posting those articles and images and updates from grocery lines, the playground, the coffee shop. And lot of articles, images and updates, at that. It was hard for me to keep up and I mostly hugged the shores of blogland, a place where most people still had to post less than once a day. Over the course of the next year, a lot of my favorite bloggers stopped blogging as much, because they were becoming more engaged in other social networking and micro-blogging platforms, particularly instagram.
Now, I had known an early adapter and looked at their and other people's feeds some, but I just didn't see the appeal. For one thing, all those filters, pretty as they were, made everyone's photos look more or less the same. For another, as much as I like a pretty picture, I much prefer it accompanied with actual words. Maybe that's just me, but all the tricked out emoticons and hashtags in the world can't make up for the intimacy of your words. Also, even its most ardent lovers in my circle were giving instagram mixed reviews, saying that its literally picture-perfect stream of images could easily create feelings of inferiority and envy. And anyway, whether or not I was interested in instagram, made little difference: I did not a device to use it with, nor the bandwidth. That is, until now.
The "need" that drove me to getting a macbook, a DSLR, the one that's forcing my husband into buying a laptop that's not seven-years-old, a printer, a smaller digital camera, we need a device with square capacity for our respective business ventures. We decided on an iPod, which seemed like the device we'd get the most other use out of as well. And it just so happens that it has the power to use instagram. Huzzah! Right? As ambivalent as I have been about the whole phenomenon, I also have to admit I've been following the streams of a few friends and bloggers I like online on my laptop and that it looks like they're having fun the way a lot more people used to on their blogs. I've also often wished I could comment and participate.
Even as I'm getting on yet another technology bandwagon, don't let me forget for a moment that there is nothing inherently good about embracing this iUniverse. That's not to say that there's anything inherently bad about it either, just that new doesn't equal better. Or maybe that's just my technophobia talking. Many people like to argue that technology is what you use it for, myself sometimes included, yet I can't shake the eerie feeling I sometimes get when I think of all the ways it has altered our lives in ten or so scant years. Living somewhere where most people don't have cellphones, let alone smart phones, and the ones who do use them sparingly, part by necessity and part by design, the idea of being connected to the world all the time terrifies me. It might be a backward, annoying, judgmental view, but seeing people in, or from the "regular" world thumbing their devices with glazed eyes, makes me roll my own eyes hard.
As my husband said looking at me struggling with the tiny screen of the iPod shaking his head: "It's all just cheap Chinese labor , toxic rare-earth materials and enormous profits." He may be overlooking the slick, easy-to-use interface, the convenience of a record collection, or the Library of Congress in your pocket, the connections forged online through these devices, but the bottom line is, we remain a little ambivalent about the possibilities of new technology. Now, some of you have already shared some of your feelings about instagram with me, but I'd love to hear more thoughts on microblogging: the ays, the nays, #whatareyouonabouts.
If you're in the ay-camp you can follow me on instagram, provided that you can find me. I also make no promises on content…
Also, Luddites were actually not as technology-averse as colloquialisms would have us believe.