You Won’t Believe This, But… (Revisiting My Luddite Self)

I wrote the following limerick in response to a personal request from Ralph Nader. And yes, I know that sounds crazy. So please allow me to explain:

Over twenty years ago, the New York Times Sunday Business section published my serious personal essay about technology in the workplace. My column, entitled “When Executives Should Just Say No,” dealt with the downside of technological advances. I concluded it with these questions:

Does that the 7:00 p.m. message really merit an immediate response? Is keeping staff hooked to computers all night a sensible use of personnel? And perhaps most important: Am I using these machines? Or are they using me?

My piece attracted a fair amount of attention, including radio interviews, a Boston Globe interview, and a reprint request from Pushcart Press’s Bill Henderson for his anthology “Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club.”

So, what does this have to do with Ralph Nader? It seems that Nader, a fan of that anthology when it was first published, has recently re-read it. And he’s sent personal letters to its contributors, asking us to re-read our respective pieces and send him updated thoughts on the topic, for an article he’s working on.

Instead of a prose response, I decided to express my updated views via limerick. So here’s what I sent to Ralph Nader:

In a decades-old piece, I once warned
With a Luddite’s distrust, unadorned,
Of technology’s lure;
Folks were duped, I was sure.
Now I’m one of those people I scorned.

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9 Responses to “You Won’t Believe This, But… (Revisiting My Luddite Self)”

  1. I seem to remember this piece – but that could be historical revisionism based on just how much I admire you. Neverthless, – happy Valentine’s Day to my favorite limerick-er. You spread love and joy along with the highest intellect every day <3

  2. Susan says:

    Powerful stuff. I have a schism–Luddite views and social-media needs. At one time I had five computers which I recently reduced to one desktop and a tablet. Go figure.

  3. P Diane Schneider says:

    I admit I have three desktops and one laptop( but of course remain a Luddite at heart as I still have an old Blackberry Curve and no Surface).

  4. Bjorn says:

    once was a gal with a fountain pen
    who scorned at the computer men
    she said they were hooked
    and forever booked
    but now she is blogging – amen

  5. Maureen says:

    A fun response holding a profound truth, and one that all too many people might admit to.

  6. Bjorn says:

    Ah. nice to visit again :-)

    I can share a limerick I wrote on twitter yesterday on a wordgame… (word was coloratura)

    once there was in Bujumbura
    a very skilled coloratura
    recruited to sing
    from York to Beijing
    and in Soviet for the nomenklatura

  7. Bryan Ens says:

    Love your decade old piece as well as your limerick response

  8. Well done. Very clever response, indeed!