Have you noticed that there is a subset of people who are seeking out less digital, even analog, alternatives? From cars to music players and even money, more people are moving back to the basics.
Is this a long-term trend? Will we begin to see society divide into technophiles and modern luddites? I think so. Why? Because I’m going down this path right now…
Last month my wife and I sold our 2018 Ford Expedition Limited. It was a nice SUV and had all of the bells and whistles. Stuff you didn’t even know you needed, like running boards that pop out when you open the door, cruise control that kept you a certain distance from the car in front of you. It even had cooling leather seats - yep seats that blew cold air on your behind. (Though neither of us could ever get used to cold air blowing on our backsides, even on hot summer days!)
We sold it because, honestly, it just felt like too much car for us. It had too many electronic do-dads. Too many things that could go wrong and break. Plus, Danielle is one of those people that electronics just always seem to go wonky on: computers, cell phones, it is just a matter of time before it all goes on the fritz unexpectedly.
Anyway, after we sold it, we talked to a neighbor who is a local mechanic. He admitted that it was probably the smart thing to do. Modern cars are increasingly sophisticated and difficult to repair when something goes wrong. In fact, he said he currently has 3 vehicles sitting in his side lot waiting for computer boards that he can’t get from the manufacturer. There is an expected 3-month wait for these computers and the cars are dead without them! The dealers can’t even get them.
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t imagine our car being down for 3 months waiting for a specific electronic part - but I hear it is now not uncommon.
So, with all that in mind, we replaced the Expedition with a low mileage, 18 year old Toyota Sequoia SR5 (base model). No heated seats, no navigation, very little electronics. Heck the thing even has a cassette tape player! It does have airbags and basic climate control, which we both agree is “just enough” electronic luxuries. If something breaks, it should be easy to fix ourselves or at least the mechanic will be able to get the parts.
When we tell people this, they don’t think we’re crazy, like they usually do. They tend to agree. Wow! I’m not used to that - we must be behind the curve this time.
Have we started to reach a point in our society where we have too much technology? Are people seeking out non-digital options? Am I late to this modern Luddite party? Maybe so...
I saw a statistic that 2022 was the first year since 1987 that vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales. Vinyl records, the ultimate in “analog” music accounted for 70% of physical music sales… People preferred the richness of the sound and the album art. (Keep in mind this is still overshadowed 10:1 by digital sales and streaming.) They want to "hold" something in their hands and have something to put up on their wall. Digital music can't provide that, but analog vinyl records can.
Around the same time we were replacing our vehicle, our heater went on the fritz and would not turn on (Danielle’s influence? Maybe… I’m not ruling that out yet.). But before I had a repair guy come out, I decided to replace the thermostat in an effort to fix the issue (something I was capable of doing).
We had a Nest “smart” thermostat that basically knew when people were walking around and would adjust the temp accordingly. It was also connected to Wifi and could be controlled remotely. It was convenient, no doubt, but in a similar line of thinking with the car, we decided to put in a “dumb” thermostat - one that wasn’t hooked up to the internet or had motion sensors in it. It was a round thing that you adjusted manually. A little bit of a pain in the butt in the morning to turn up the heat, but at least I’m confident my thermostat wasn't monitoring me - something I couldn't say with the Nest.
I think this is the crux of this whole movement to analog: when I remove digital devices from my life, I gain peace of mind that I’m not being monitored and tracked.
Everyday you see something new that was previously “dumb” but is now “smart” and if you are like me, you think of everything that can go wrong or how it can be used nefariously by big tech or some three letter government agency.
I know this is a much bigger subject and there are people that dedicate all of their free time to learning about big tech trackers and living a digitally invisible life. I’m just barely scratching the surface here and can only give my limited personal experience. When it comes to this topic, I'm like a toddler discovering french fries for the first time. (Though to my credit, I at least run a non-standard smart phone operating system: Graphene OS)
My area of interest is more around currency and with that I do see parallels here. I'm sure by now you’ve seen news articles about the coming Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)...?
Hopefully we are all in agreement that our currency is a fraud. It is backed by nothing but rainbows and unicorn excrement. It is not true “money” anymore because it fails at at least one of the three key requirements. No modern currency is actually a store of value - instead it takes a little bit of value away from you every time they decide to print more of it (electronically of course). We know this by comparing what $1 could buy 30 years ago to what $1 can buy today.
Since our currency is just 1’s and 0’s it is easy to “print” more just by making a new entry on the Fed’s balance sheet. While we still have physical coins and bills, the bulk of our currency is digital. If the governments of the world get their way, they will eventually remove the physical component of our currency (the bills and coins) and move it entirely digital.
I don’t have to tell you how bad this would be.
We saw during the COVID scamdemic how much the governments of the world like their control. There are huge freedom and privacy risks to purely government controlled digital money. If the money in your FedNow digital wallet is actually just an electronic entry in the computers and on the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve, you have no privacy and you are subject to the whims of the state - just ask the Chinese how well that is working for them.
Even though today we transact with Federal Reserve Notes (still not real money), at least you have some privacy when you use physical bills. You can decide to buy red meat for your grill, gasoline for your V8, and guns for your… whatever the hell you want your guns for!
Purely electronic (government controlled) money is an end to freedom and our way of life. I truly believe this.
I know, my Bitcoin guys are chomping at the bit right about now… Yes Bitcoin is 100% electronic, but Bitcoin is decentralized! Bitcoin is private! Bitcoin is universal! If everyone used Bitcoin we could throw off the yoke of the Central Bankers!
Maybe all of that is true and we will get to see Bitcoin in action sooner rather than later as normal people seek out dollar and CBDC alternatives. It could be our digital currency savior or it won't, we'll find out soon.
Please forgive my obvious lack of enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies. I'm actually not anti-Bitcoin as some of my writings might have you believe, I even own a small amount. I really only have one issue with Bitcoin: it is still 100% digital. There isn’t anything physical supporting it. Unlike the gold backed currencies of old, the digital currencies of today (including Bitcoin) are still just 1’s and 0’s and it remains to be seen if it is strong enough to avoid abuse and disaster.
I believe people moving away from digital toward analog don’t trust anything that is made up entirely of just 1’s and 0’s. They are like me and need something substantial, tangible, and REAL. If our dollars were actually backed up with gold we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today. Fiat currency has a 100% failure rate, and because of our reckless spending we're approaching dollar failure.
You can't give a human (or a country) a checkbook that has no limit and expect everything to miraculously turn out okay. You will hit limits eventually. We've had a good run, but our time is running out. Reality is calling and it wants to cash some of those checks...
We have forces at work on both sides pushing for digital central bank currencies and now, thankfully, repegging the dollar to gold or, as in Texas, issuing a new digital currency backed by gold. Both sides recognize the dollar is doomed if we don’t do something soon.
So bringing this full circle, keep your eyes on this ongoing digital / analog cultural warfare and how it affects people's lives and their purchase decisions - especially as it relates to our currency.
Post Script Note: One thing that I find really interesting as I look for linkable articles related to the impending fiat dollar collapse, is the number of crypto and Bitcoin related sites that come up! So once again we have a digital (Bitcoin) vs. analog (gold) tug of war. Both sides believe the same end result - death of the fiat dollar, but each side sees a different answer to the problem. Maybe the best answer will be a merging of old analog tech (gold) with new tech (blockchain) so we have a gold backed, digital currency that can be traded globally. Wouldn't that be incredible?
Here are a couple articles from crypto sites that looked interesting:
- Fiat Currency Graveyard: A History of Monetary Folly
- How Fiat Money Fails: Deconstructing the Government's Paper-Thin Promise
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