August 23, 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas

How Free am I?

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I think I’ve been preoccupied with this question for a while now. I think as I get older, many of my attachments to the world seem less important, even oppressive. I’ve always been adverse to tyranny in any form, but maybe with my experience comes more of a subtle understanding and apprehension of many of the things that weigh heavy on me. You know: things that keep me from true freedom.

Debt is one, as I mentioned on my birthday. I hate my constant anxieties about money, and I doubly hate having to bow to it and its influence on my society. Money makes us cruel. Money makes us slaves. Things like car payments and mortgages are just shackles that we agree to wear for the sake of image, comfort, and a sense of success and security. Yet, what are they really? They make it so we must work — and keep our mouths shut in order to keep our jobs so we can afford these necessities. To most of my students: college is only a means to employments. It’s this very myth that I find offensive. This is likely at the heart of what’s bugging me.

I resist all that tries to direct my thoughts and actions. I guess that’s why I’ve considered myself an iconoclast — one who breaks icons — for a while.

What are those things in my life that still direct my thoughts and actions? One is Apple. I’ve been an Apple user since I can remember, but why? As I continue to use them, the more tightly they control my digital life — my photos, my access (passwords), my applications — my whole idea of how being digital should be. While I tend to agree that Apple makes the best hardware, that faith has been shaken lately. My iPhone X — just out of warranty — has been showing signs of dying: the screen on the bottom has been plagued by the ghost touch and often it won’t even let me swipe up to get out of a program. The worst part: I’m only half-way done paying for it through Verizon. I will never buy a premium phone again. I really want something like the Palm.

In fact, the whole phone thing is another tyranny to be resisted. I hate the damn zombies on their phones. Students come to class and their phone is the only thing they put on their desks. People are glued to their phones before a workout at OTF. People can’t even put down the goddamn thing while driving. The other day, I saw a cop talking on his cell phone behind the wheel. I really want to ditch my iPhone, and while I’m thinking about, my Apple Watch, too. These things to not free us; they do the very opposite.

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That’s why I’m going to by a used laptop and run Linux as my daily driver. I want my digital life to be as free from tyranny as possible. I stopped using Facebook months ago, and I only use Twitter for the Society. I’ve been closing accounts; Instagram is next. I do not want to be beholden to any companies for my digital endeavors.

It’ll likely be hard to give up my MacBook Pro, but I want to try — at least for a while. I may purchase this dude’s Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (4G) on Saturday. My budget is something under $500, but still thin and light. I plan on starting with Pop!_OS and seeing what happens. I’ll try to keep track of my adventure here.

Here’s to freedom.