My Gizmo Aversion

Looks fun, but no thanks.

“You don’t have an iPod?!”

Just as he said it, I could tell he regretted sounding so judgy. I go through most of my weeks trying not to mention this fact for this very reason. It’s so awkward. But he had asked point blank (“Well you have an iPod of course, right?”) and there was nowhere else to go.

“I’ll tell you some time about my Gizmo Rule. I try to limit them.”

One of us then deftly switched subjects.

But back to that Gizmo Rule. This was the first time I had put it in exactly that way. And it’s true. I pretty much have a Ten-Gizmo Rule:

1. Telephone (land line) (1)

2. Telephone (cell) (1)

3. Sound system (a.k.a. stereo) (2)

4. LCD Television with built-in DVD player (1)

5. Laptop (MacBook Pro) (1)

6. Digital camera (1)

7. Toaster oven (1)

8. Electric toothbrush (1)

9. Electric pencil sharpener (1)

10. Blender (1)

11. Electric coffee-bean grinder (1)

12. Printer (1)

Notice I haven’t quite made it to 10, but I should mention I barely ever use the bean grinder and my electric toothbrush is broken.

Notice what’s missing. A microwave, for one. An iPhone. An electric can opener. A Cuisinart. A second telephone, a second TV. Notice that the size of most of these things means I cannot carry them around and lose them to great expense and inconvenience. The majority can’t easily be replaced by manual efforts (exceptions: toothbrush, coffee bean grinder, pencil sharpener and possibly blender, but I’d like to see you try making a smoothie by hand). (And OK so it’s a slim majority.)

Someday, I’d like to get the number below 10. I am thinking of ditching my land line, despite my sentimental attachment to a phone number I’ve had since 1994.

Here are the reasons I limit my Gizmos:

1.Instruction manuals.

2. Energy use (fossil fuels versus my own)

3. Less to lose or forget.

4. Less to dust or break.

5. Fewer ways to get duped into spending money on additional gizmo accessories I never thought I’d need or want.

6. More time left for the gizmos I already have.

7. More time left for reading things that are not instruction manuals.

8. Will it make my life better? If not, why should I add another thing to the landfill?

9. Since PCs and laptops were introduced to the world, virtual gizmos have become inevitabilities, so why add more real ones?

10. Remember 8-track tapes?

This is NOT an eco- thing or a green thing (though that factors into my thinking). It’s an acknowledgment that adding things to my life does not necessarily add value to my life.

How do I define “gizmo?” Excellent question! That’s another post. I gotta go practice hand-grinding my coffee beans now.


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