My friends will tell you that I am one of those few hold-outs who has refused to buy a new computer for years (six if we’re going to be exact). I have wrongly been called a Luddite by many, as if my refusal is an affront to their technologically-obsessed world. I simply place value in other areas of life. However, while I may admittedly be decidedly stubborn, I am not completely illogical or unreasonable. Reality presented me thus: I started a new business (yay!), that runs in large part online. Ergo? I need a computer. And since I believe in buying something once and keeping it for years and years and years (note: my hiking boots are twelve years old and still look new despite having walked all over the world; I’ve had the same flip cell phone for three years…are we getting the picture yet?), I wanted the best bang for my bucks. So I went to many computer stores, had many break downs and panic attacks, and walked out a few months later with a MacBook Pro.
Now, I know that most people who own Macs think they are the best things in the world. They rave about how easy they are to use, how gorgeously designed they are, and on and on and on. Blah. Blah. BLAH. Me? I don’t mean to sound like an ungrateful spoiled American, but I hate owning a computer and each time I open this machine of supposed beauty, my stomach wants to chuck its cookies. But what is it that makes me react so viscerally to something that shouldn’t be traumatic? This question deserves some further contemplation in my opinion.
Over the past few years, I have built a life that places the majority of its value in people, small businesses, local community, and environmental wellbeing. I buy my bars of soap from my farmer’s market, along with my raw honey, eggs, veggies and bacon all the year round. I buy sustainable, fairly-traded, organic, shade-grown coffee from my old college coffee shop in Providence, Rhode Island because not only do they support all those adjectives, they support an organization called Coffee Kids. If I’m going to drink a liquid made from beans which have been shipped around the world, I want them to do the most good they can. Rarely do I go to an actual grocery store. I support the best bookstore in the world instead of ordering through Amazon because I believe in having incredible resources, which are able to keep their physical doors open. I only use Goodsearch instead of Google because even my web searches can generate a little more good in this world. My cell phone company is a non-profit, which lets its members choose where the profits go. I’m a traditionally-trained wooden boatbuilder who loves her a beautiful old schooner with her sails full of wind–need I say more?
Yeah, I know I sound a bit fanatical. It’s really more a matter that I make very conscious choices of how I spend money. They are active choices, positive choices that make my life feel generous, aware and fulfilled.
And make no mistake, I am not rich according to my bank account. However, I believe fiercely in putting my money where my mouth is, even if it costs me a few more dollars.
So what’s the big deal about buying a Mac, besides the small fact that I swore that I would never own one? It’s the complete anti-thesis of all the values which I hold dear. It is a large company, with a not-so-great environmental and humanitarian track record in places like China, where I used to live. Its entire existence focuses on planned obsolescence, instead of longevity. My dollars go anywhere but locally and the carbon footprint of my shiny new machine is annoyingly bigger than just about anything in my life currently (courtesy of Apple). I feel like I’ve been duped into a world which I’ve tried hard to avoid, where there is little connection to the rest of my life or my core being.
How I’ll learn to live with this irritating dichotomy, I’m still looking for that answer. At least for now, I can more succinctly answer the big deal question. What are the things in your life to which you feel you’ve had to acquiesce, even when your gut tells you it doesn’t fit? And how did you make peace with the inherent contradictions?