Environmental threats, an over-consumption of resources, and concerns related to the survival of technologies on which we have come to depend raises the question of what we writers actually need to ply our trade. What tools are needed for writing and what would we do if we lost them?
We need only to look to the past to realize we can always write if we have basic equipment—that is, something to write on and a tool with which to write. We may currently depend on our word processors and access to the Internet or access to a printer and paper, but we can certainly make do with less.
Writers in the previous century used typewriters and paper, or pens and paper, and in earlier centuries, quills and parchment paper. No one can shut writers up by taking away our current technologies.
Can We Sustain the Unfettered Use of Today’s Toys?
People who choose to support and invest in gas, oil, and coal industries and nuclear energy at the expense of protecting and sustaining the environment often support their choice by claiming that we couldn’t survive without these energy sources. Of course we could.
We are fortunate that there are a lot of people and companies working on alternate energies such as wind and solar power. We may have to give up some of our toys or reduce our use of them but it is ridiculous to insist that we can’t actually live without them. Of course we can.
In the middle of the last century—never mind the early part—few of our technologies and creature comforts existed and yet people managed to live happy and fulfilled lives. As well, books, newspapers, magazines, and musical scores were published, movies were made, the theatre was alive and well, and musicians could find audiences everywhere.
Life Would be Different Without the Comforts We Enjoy Today
Do we really need smart phones and, in our homes, several 60-inch TVs hooked up by WiFi to cell phones and iPads/iPods, desktop computers, and laptops with cable and streaming services; cars that can be driven at speeds over 100 miles an hour or the soon-to-be self-driving cars? Do we really need plastic surgery to make ourselves look current-trend-beautiful? No, we don’t. Can we survive without social media, or music and movies and books purchased or stolen from the Internet and saved on an Ethernet cloud? Yes, we really can.
Many people who were born in the middle of the last century are still with us and they lived without such things—and didn’t miss them, even though they would miss them if they lost them today. We would all miss them. However, do you watch movies set in the past fascinated by the horror of the uncomfortable lives people lived? Probably not. Do you watch science fiction movies and mourn your inability to live in the futures they show us? Not likely. Many of them portray what excess consumerism, greed, and power-hungry governments have done to the earth and its inhabitants, and it’s never very pretty.
What would life be like if we no longer had thousands of products made of inexpensive, disposable plastics and packaging made of such heavy plastic that wire cutters are the preferred choice for opening them to retrieve, say, two batteries? We are encouraged to keep buying and then discarding almost everything and we know what happens—tons of buried, leaking nuclear waste, mountains of toxic landfill, and oceans clogged with refuse.
We Can Choose to Live With Less
We should consider supporting alternate energy sources and learn to live differently if that’s what it takes. Maybe the future won’t be able to support all our current technologies and creature comforts, but we can adapt. We’re good at that.
I’m tired of hearing that there is no going back to living with less gas and oil, less money, less travel, less mindless amusement, and less comfort. Writers can write with typewriters and paper, or pen and paper if necessary. It’s the way I first started writing, huddled under a blanket to keep warm. If in a dialed-down future I couldn’t make a living writing, I would teach, work on a farm, milk cows. We need clean water to drink, clean air to breath, and uncontaminated food from uncontaminated soil. Writers, like everyone else, can manage as long as we have that.
What do you think?
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