Are you a Neo-Luddite?

As we enjoyed the beautiful spring weather outside the neighborhood coffee shop, I asked the lovely college senior sitting across from me about this new trend I keep hearing about of folks her age rejecting certain forms of social media.

A personal friend of mine has already joined their ranks by removing all social media from her cell phone, and, in addition, has announced “no contact” time frames to her team. She’s in her 30s.

But it was this 20-something looking back at me that I questioned intensely, hoping to cure my need to know. What is it that her friends and generation are trying to tell the world?

Her answer shouldn’t have surprised me. These kids are way ahead of where we were at their age. But the depth of her answer is what caught me off guard.

She explained how postings to platforms such as Facebook these days can just be “too much”, and what she meant was that some people “force the appearance of a perfect world or lifestyle”, which can make the viewer or follower depressed or sad about their own life in comparison. That just isn’t how this generation sees the world. They’re hoping to lift one another up. They are yearning for healthy, positive, balance.

I was amazed that she and her circle of friends are ready to reject this form of imposed “personal branding” and public image. They are more about staying upbeat while remaining authentic and real. And the ramifications are beginning to prove financially negative for the tech giants. This trend is moving beyond Millennials and is spreading to other demographics.

There is a new term for those leaning in this direction. They are being referred to as neo-Luddites, and they are embracing what is known as an “off-the-grid” lifestyle tendency as a new form of rebellion.

Facebook and Google rely heavily on advertising on all the social media platforms, but blocking software is now being downloaded by the masses in protest, and quite frankly, this has blind-sided Silicon Valley. It’s causing problems. For them.

Right now, you are probably asking yourself “what in the world is a Luddite?” The term comes from a seventeenth-century rebellion of weavers against developing technology of that time that they feared would take away their work and wages. The term neo-Luddite simply means a revived Luddite movement, which in this case refers to people of our own time who are resisting the extreme dependence on technology that is so prevalent today.

As I see it, (dare I even say it?) this new movement is a move towards….the past! (gasp). Common practices for tech users are now:

  • Establishing  “no phone” times
  • Not immediately logging into or accepting the free wifi
  • Planning weekends away from computers
  • Taking action about “screen time” for themselves and their families

The move is toward “slow living” or “slow tech”. They are not afraid to wait in line, or just sit and wait their turn. It’s a return to normalcy, perhaps? How refreshing!

I myself am working towards taking some much needed time away in the very near future. I am hoping to make myself pull away from the constant phone and media checking. Do you think I can do it? If you’re going away soon, I challenge you to do the same. Let’s compare notes when you get back and see how we did. I’m betting we will both say, “Why didn’t I do that sooner!?”

—Keep me posted! (But not until I get back, if you don’t mind.)




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