Cable and streaming services bring us our favorite TV shows and movies. Our phones have become nearly irreplaceable means of communicating with others, checking the weather, learning trivia, shopping, applying for jobs, conducting interviews, and even doing a bit of work. Meanwhile, it is becoming harder to keep up with the latest trends and breakthroughs. Not to sound like advocates for Luddites, but can we even live without technology?
What Is Technology?
People usually treat the term ‘technology’ as pertaining to electronics. However, technology can also refer to any way we apply science and knowledge to achieve a goal. Building houses, crafting weapons and tools, treating sickness and injury – all of these are things found in civilized societies. They have been since ancient times.
However, it is no wonder that the term technology now takes the shape of our phones, robots, AI, and the internet. This is the technology of our time. Now that we have established some parameters, we can try and answer the question of whether it is possible to live without technology.
Compare the stress levels and physical capabilities of a farmer or castaway in the middle of nowhere and the person who spends 10-16 hours a day in front of a screen. At first glance, we would say that the imaginary farmer is more physically active and endures far less stress concerning the hypotheticals and the global problems. Their main concern is to survive the immediate environment. Those of us who are glued to the screen are more likely to develop chronic pain and other health conditions. Furthermore, our bodies are not tough enough to fight off infections, hunt or gather food, or build a shelter (we are talking about the average person here). Sounds too simplified, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Disconnecting from tech, or unplugging, does not only mean avoiding business emails, student debt invoices, and the trending world disasters. It also means giving up things like food delivery, access to healthcare, several forms of entertainment, and finding employment in modern society. It means not following how the world changes or taking in opposing viewpoints.
If we look at technology in the broadest sense, it is not possible to live without it, as almost everything you do, wear, use, or consume is, by definition, a product of technology. Imagine being stranded on an island. Sharpening a stick and using it to hunt or fish is technology, albeit primitive.
However, it is certainly possible to live without modern technology. Societies, tribes, and religious organizations that shun it are not common, but they do exist. For example, some conservative Mennonites and the Amish are among those that do not rely on computers, machines, or even electricity. That’s about as old-school as you can get. The lack of modern technology leads to a simpler life, though at times much harder.
Let’s sum this up. You can live without modern technology like a hermit. You could and would appreciate things around you more. You will, however, also be disconnected from the world. Today, that is still achievable, but its practicality is another matter.