Living The Not-So-High Tech Life!

By Sunny Glessner
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oldage ne postNow you can find a destination through the GPS on your smart phone. You can pay bills directly from your bank account or trade stocks on your smart phone. You can get your boarding pass in the Timbuktu Airport.  Isn’t that wonderful?

As a Neo-Luddite, I don’t think so.  Luddites were named after British workers who destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the early 1800’s.  I’m not “that old” but do fit a more modern movement. Neo-Luddites oppose many forms of modern technology and worry about its effect on privacy, families and society.

So if I use my cell phone to get that boarding pass, crooks can locate me and it’s not at home, which gives them free rein to abscond with my valuables, like my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine.

If I lose my cell phone, the thieves will have access to all my financial information. Since it’s much harder to lose my desktop computer, why would I risk using the cell for those transactions? Although I can use a password to lock my cell, that slows things down when calling 911 plus I have to remember it in a time of crisis.  And it wouldn’t slow the thieves that much.

I’ve already had a phishing email from PayPal “needing to refresh my credit card info”.  (I was forced to use PayPal when buying something.)  Recently, a very helpful man with an Indian accent cold called and offered to help me fix my Windows problems by sharing my computer. I didn’t have a problem and I’m not good at sharing.

This came just days after Microsoft took over my computer and upgraded to Windows 8.1 without my permission and against my wishes. Then Lenovo was forced to admit they had purposely pre-loaded Superfish, a malware that allows hackers access to the operating system.

Technology scammers are winning—if not the war, at least the current skirmish, costing us billions. For $33, someone can get enough information to make your life miserable.  For example, with only your social security number, scammers can submit your tax return, and the IRS will send them a refund. The resultant mess is your new life.

Some of these wonderful apps for your cell phone use the Cloud, including GPS tracking and PayPal. How can a cloud be secure? Just look at one—so fuzzy you can almost see through it.

Better keep an eye on what’s being called the Internet of Things or IoT. Manufacturers are putting network connectivity into everything from thermostats to toasters, from refrigerators to vacuum cleaners. In the old days, people might kick something like a vending machine to try to make it work. With smart machines, it’ll probably take your picture and post it to your Facebook page with a warning.

As our homes get “smarter,” the number of Net-enabled objects worldwide will grow to a staggering 26 billion by 2020—that’s only five years away.  Your connected refrigerator can send you a text when you’re out of truffles, or even add it to the grocery list on your phone. But then companies can hit you with spam and I can’t picture eating truffles with spam. And I don’t want my garbage disposal talking to my electric toothbrush.  Wait, my toothbrush isn’t electric. Whew.

Consumers have discovered that 1984 by George Orwell has finally happened. Smart TV manufacturer Samsung’s privacy policy warns that the voice recognition software on these TVs can listen to conversations and record personal or other sensitive information. With very little security in the device, they are leaving our home networks vulnerable not only to the government but to hackers who can compromise the entire system.

Even clothing is getting into the act. You can buy a motorcycle jacket with LEDs in the back that will sync with your turn signals or brakes. That could be a life saver. But the shirt that automatically scrunches up its long sleeves when you get warm could be like the wings of a hummingbird when worn by a woman going through menopause.

All these events affect my willingness to get heavily involved in high tech. High tech also provides more things to go wrong. I enjoy my dishwasher, love my microwave and stove.  I drive a modern car but not an electric one and wouldn’t consider a driverless one.

Even my new washing machine is smarter than me. Don’t ask. Being around high tech has caused me to develop Tourette’s Syndrome—the bad language version. I’m afraid to buy new items because they can be difficult to operate so I’m going to start shopping second-hand stores or even antique stores for functioning older models. Instead of a mind reader, I need a “machine reader”.

Besides being a Neo-Luddite, I’m also a Neo-phile who loves novelty, enjoys changes and evolution. Being a Neo-phile explains my love of travel and thirst for other new experiences. Having two Neo-isms can create an inner conflict. But when it’s close, Neo-Luddism always wins. 
Neo-Luddites, Unite!

 

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