Monday, 23 November 2020


New technology hasn’t fundamentally changed golf, cricket or football. Although in football, VAR (video-assistant-referees) has been so contentious we may go back to old on-the-field referees’ judgement. 

But there are very few who’d agree with me on this luddite thinking. 

On Friday I was working in my office whilst my wife was taking exercise – I avoided it as I usually do. I waved affectionately at her as she walked round our large communal garden and opened the window to bellow good natured encouragement. And then it happened. I leant forward and my mobile phone spun out of my grasp, out of the window and landed with a loud thwunk on a roof below.

Getting to it was going to be complex and a crawling-over roofs job. At my age, un-exercised, it was going to be lunacy. No Spiderman me. So I started to think.

I wondered if this accident had been divine intervention. Freedom from those countless, irritating phone-calls. Release from e-mails and texts when I was out of the house and freedom from that behaviour trait of imitating those around you and studying your screen as though it holds the secrets of the universe. First one person does it then we all do – like yawning. 

I realised that I yearn for pen and ink. I yearn for the absence of intrusion. I yearn for never again seeing a text saying “Halifax is holding a payment of several thousand pounds – send your bank details so they can  pay it into your account.”  No, you defrauding Nigerian, Russian, Ukrainian or whoever. No. No. No. 

I yearn for a world devoid of Apps and social media. Not being anchored to your phone is being on holiday.

But then I thought about contacting people. All the phone numbers are on my phone. Not having my mobile was going to be like the onset of a kind of dementia. Basically, just out of it.

Take away my PC and I can still write but with a degree of greater difficulty especially as my seldom-used handwriting now resembles that of drunken doctor - unintelligible. But without my phone I’m inaudible, invisible and forgotten.

Perhaps it’s time we should reject the “paperless society”. Perhaps assuming everyone is online is rash, ageist and classist. I shudder for the prospects of poor children living in a household without a laptop whose ability to share online learning and homework is non-existent. 

We all need to learn how to use useful, basic technology and make sure it’s available to everyone as a utility not a luxury good and that we’re trained to use it well. The overly sophisticated stuff is a waste of time as is much social media. The good side of social media is closed community groups and business tools like LinkedIn but much of the rest is, as I see it, time consuming and navel gazing. 

And as for Siri or Alexa.

They’re rather silly toys for petulant teenagers. To be ignored.

The good stuff is that the days of deliveries being left on the doorstep are over and being able to track deliveries and have accurate delivery times is usual. 

So I’ve made three resolutions:

i)   To create an up-to-date paper address book in pencil (so I can rub out changes.) 

ii)  To become proficient at using the few digital tools that are helpful and time saving.

iii) To stop leaning out of windows with anything in my hand – good heavens – it could have been a glass of wine on Friday. Imagine that.

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