Friday, 7 September 2012

Forbidden Fruit

There is some irony in the fact that I find myself wanting an iPhone - the Apple of my own centre of existential angst - that which tempts me from my Eden.

As someone who has set her stall at opposing the absurdity of modern life this represents a pivotal test. And for the record I already have a mobile phone, an iPad, laptop and PC, as well my DSLR camera (which I truly love). But most of those purchases were bought without conscious contemplation, some of them were given to us (as they were considered a dinosaur) and one was inherited ...

On the one hand we have the 'dream' ('dream', as in 'non-reality') - the lie we are told of a glorious future full of manmade gadgets and gizmos. These make our life easy and pleasant and pleasurable. They free us from work and allow us leisure time.

On the other you have the cost - the cost of human life and the cost of cold, hard cash. Because there is no such thing as a free lunch; anyone who thinks there is is either a child or a moron. The cost of the dream-lie is immense. And like the pitch poured over a mangy camel the truth is cleverly hidden behind a shiny facade.

Technology trades on desire, because in reality it is almost never really needed; it is only ever a lusted over. It tells us it will keep us connected, keep our finger on the pulse, keep us up-to-date, but instead of holding onto the reigns we are pulled off the horse and dragged along at a rate of knots as we are sucked into its vortex of endless possibilities, endless information, endless data, endless frivolities. There is no end to this black hole of never-ending choice and noise. And instead of keeping a finger on the pulse, it becomes the pulse. We forget what the starting point was; we lose ourselves. We find days gone by sucked into Angry Birds or twitter. Don't get me started on Facebook (and now they tell us it is a sign of psychopathology to have no Facebook account. Priceless). What was once normal is now backward. What was once abhorrent is now de rigueur.

These devices which are meant to keep people in touch can also be the source of severence. We can spend so much time with virtual life that we miss the real thing.

Then consider the cost of those who make these things; the slavery of the worker paid pennies to work meaninglessly long hours, and so miserable are they that safeguards have to be put in place around the factories to stop workers committing suicide. To buy into this dream I have to put the boot on someone's face; I have to be complicit in another person's slavery.

But so strong is the desire to buy into this dream-lie that I can almost imagine these things as untrue; I can almost rationalise the suffering away. A shiny, white new toy for the child in me that wants Christmas at her fingertips twenty-four hours a day, no matter what the cost.

It is only by actively stopping myself and thinking about these things that I prevent a tragedy - I stop myself from buying into the lie and return to a path I have chosen - one of simplicity. Perhaps it will never be perfectly walked but I hope that I can make more right choices than wrong. I hope that I tread gently on this earth, and that when I die it can be said of me that I was one of those who did very little harm.

And I am not anti-technology - there are many aspects to our lives that need it, of course. But I reject mindless consumerism; I reject needless technology which drains our resources; I reject unethical companies who do not adhere to fair-trade. I reject the constant need to upgrade, to homogenise my life experience to be sold or diluted into a mere lifestyle, ready to be branded and sold again; the need to keep up with the Jones'. I reject an inauthentic life which agrees with the need to slow down, reduce the carbon footprint of everything I buy, buy fair trade, but still does it anyway. Because if those who care don't make a difference then where will difference be made?

Oh goodness I could go on and on about, well about everything. This world of ours has been bought out beneath our feet and we are all sleep-walking into the meat-grinder. Our lives are so precariously balanced and even though we know it we do nothing.

They say that all it needs to start a revolution is for each and every one of us to change themselves. That if you want to see change in the world, be that change. And like all great leaps for mankind, they start with a single step. So I make a pledge to simplicity, I stop and make each of my choices authentic rather than reactive. And I try to walk that walk. And I've compiled a checklist - the stop, amber, go checklist before I buy or do anything. It's not amazing, but it works::


Like it? Then have it. Here is a download printable for you to share. Pass it on. If you can think of any other considerations that should make it onto the list please leave them in the comments section below.

For me, I am just tired of being dragged down a path I don't particularly like. I'm opting out. I'm making authentic decisions and conscious choices. And slowly, I am letting go of all unnecessary things in my life.

~ If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. ~


  1. Your print out is good :-)

    You could also consider this:

    I've been told that the episode of "World's Worst Place to Be a Woman" featuring the Congo, discussed how the trade in such things is leading to violence in the area (I don't really watch TV and after being told about it by a friend who told me she'd cried after watching it I just don't want to watch it).

    I won't buy a new laptop, mobile phone (etc) ever again (and haven't since I became aware of this).

  2. Thankyou, and that's a good point which I didn't make in the post - when we upgrade and recycle these things don't just magically disappear into thin air - a lot of companies who are 'green' in the west are just evil to developing nations. Thankyou for sharing that link.

    Print out is just my stop! think! go! because sometimes my brain is so mushy I need a reminder! ;-)

  3. Love it when you discuss. This is also my dilemma. For my business I need at least two computers, as when one goes on the blink, I am not able to the bills....etc. My two computers were on the blink this week. Ouch. Went to the holy Mac store. Instead of buying a new glorious gadget, I opted to fix the two 'puters and buy an Ipod...which I can use as a phone to do face time with my grand kiddos when ever I want, and purchase a keyboard to use as a third computer when the old ones are done. I felt it was a good decision. Hence, I don't need the iphone my kids have been pressuring me to get!!!! I feel so much better now that I have read your post.
    You rawk, little Debbie. ; )
    xoxo d

  4. I actually don't need this stuff at all. It feels good to opt out sometimes. Xx

  5. It is really, really hard not to want it sometimes, though. I have to admit I have a bit of an internet addiction and in many ways it has brought so much to me (like the ability to read your blog ;-) but there are times when I rail against the amount of technology today and it can be hard to find a middle ground.

    I generally suffer from mushy brain (it appears to have gotten worse with subsequent children).

    On a non-technological bent, buying second hand doesn't always come easy - I really would like a simple denim skirt and finding one that a) fits and b) is of a reasonable length (I'm not comfortable with anything above knee length - above ankle length has me wearing very thick tights) appears to be rather difficult unless I go to Ebay (which is going to have to be my next port of call as very few of my clothes fit post baby and enable discreet breastfeeding *sigh*) I'm getting to the point where I'll need to buy some fabric to make a couple of simple dresses.

    It does seem that much of the luxuries we (in England) have are built on the suffering of others and you're right, for the most part I don't need this stuff either (after all, I remember no computers or mobile phones and people still managed).

  6. Which brings me to the 'did my nana have one'... but I do feel safer with a mobile phone when traveling with kids. But I have an old nokia that works just fine, and for clothes, well I grab things when I see them at the thrift store or sew my own. But ebay is pretty essential too!

  7. Yes, I so agree. I just moved and am learning to navigate my new home. So many people keep telling me to turn on the GPS in the car or borrow my husband's smart phone, but I know I won't actually learn about my new home that way. I need to turn down wrong roads, pour over a map and find my way by memory and my natural sense of direction to really understand how things fit together in a new place.

  8. My sister is the same. Refuses to have one for the same reasons.

  9. my sister and i are both the same about gps/maps. we don't even use the one "emergency" cell phone we have. my sister gave me her old iphone when she upgraded and i use it as an ipod without cell service. it's so easy to want more... and i will freely admit i spend far too much time here... online~!! good thoughts, here. you are not alone!

  10. Well, yeah. It's ironic that I'm writing about this on my laptop for the internet...

  11. Out of interest why is an ipad ok and not an iphone. Just curious :)


  12. It isn't! I wrote that to be honest about other un-thinking purchases! In fact when I got the iPad I felt as though I'd let myself down. I think it was then that I decided to opt out. It's hard. Sometimes I don't live up to my own ideals. Like I said, I hope to do more right than wrong.

  13. Gah! I think most of us struggle to live up to our own ideals - to be human is to struggle (at some point) and if we didn't strive for something better in ourselves then what would be the point?

  14. True. We have to have permission to fail, so long as we get back up and try again, right?

  15. Marvellous post. Facebook makes me quite uneasy, although I can't quite enunciate why... I think it allows the nastier side of oneself to emerge, the snooping, snidey, nosy, jealous side. Not good. I very much like your checklist, and will definitely be referring back to it in future! I still covet a rotary cutter for my quilting though. Grandma didn't have one, but she would definitely want one!

  16. I left facebook. It always made me feel uneasy too and eventually the trolls surfaced so it wasn't a hard decision to make. Ah, now, rotary cutters aren't included (unless they are made in a sweatshop, obviously) because tools are necessary aren't they? And I've always stood by the belief that good tools are worth the investment.

  17. Oh, I totally relate to this post... You don't know HOW much! I've always loved photography and longed for a good DSLR, but put off having one as they are really expensive. Plus, I keep having visions of clunking my baby son on the head (always carry him in my Manduca). I hate to admit it but I too covet the iPhone! I have been salivating over all the lenses that you can attach to it. My husband thought of getting me one for Eid but I couldn't let him go through with it. It would have cost 65,000 rupees – that can feed some 13 families here in Islamabad for a month! So, yes, I have moments when I think, "Man, I should've let him buy me the darn thing!", but then alhamdulillah for the saner moments when I know that I wouldn't be really happy (or happier) with it anyway.

  18. Yes, there is the fact that by greedy consumption it means more poverty for others. But I do love my DSLR ... shhhh


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