The Sincere Innocence of Jon Udell
In “A conversation with Ellen Ullman about living close to the machine,” Jon Udell and Ellen Ullman pine about the loss of humanity in an Imperial society. Period. Of course Jon would never, ever, use the words “Imperial society” seriously. So there is little empathy for his ‘struggle’ to understand what is going on around him in his life. These are some of the counter-cultural pillars Jon stumbled upon like a cute little suburban baby in a four-hundred dollar stroller:
- Children need to see their parents work. Because Jon and his wife work at home his children get to see their parents work. Children do what they see done and they feel what their parents feel. Children who grow up in a home with physical abuse grow up to very likely to be physically abusive. Children who grow up in a home and watch their parents work for a living grow up to very likely have a deep understanding of being systematically productive and free from preoccupations with magic and fantasy (instantaneous gratification). To take for granted that children should be separated from their parents for 8 to 14 hours a day for five days a week is a core indicator of Imperial cultural values. When you are waging war as a way of life, such “normal” assumptions come “naturally.”
- Working at home makes you more concerned about your community. Based on this conversation, Jon is actually flirting with being a community activist. I dare say that he is not far from being an environmentalist. But because he is steeped in the trappings of computer technology and default white privilege it feels like that he cannot see himself as just the same as, say, Majora Carter—and how dare we compare Jon Udell to Ramona Africa! Ambient racism (adult contemporary white supremacy) should prevent these thoughts from even crossing his mind without, say, retreating to sophomoric humor. These sentences are my wild (savage) speculation. I look forward to being incorrect about my assumptions.
- Telecommuting can overthrow civilization as we know it. Perhaps Jon understands very well that oil barons and their media minions are not bullish on telecommuting as a social revolutionary “weapon” but he is “smart” enough not to rant about it through an outlet owned by IDG Publishing Network. Telecommuting done correctly can eliminate the high rise office building and produce community-centered, informed savvy voters that are not easily controlled by mass media. Telecommuting as a part of “urban renewal” can revive a rural/post-urban high-tech life in North America and produce a Monticello vision of the world that finally honors the unrealized ideals of Thomas Jefferson. The traditional Imperial powers would rather blow up the world than permit this to happen. Period. Traffic jams are a by-product of the culture of central control. Telecommuting threatens to be too empowering for traditional American thinkers representing the interests of the ruling class who are quick to distrust and punish instead of researching and measuring.
- Young people of the i-generation do not embrace information overload. To me, divided attention is a sign of greed. Jon points out in this interview that young people are “rewarded” for their ability to download music, talk on the phone, research for their homework—and do whatever else children with armpit hair do—all at the same time. When you get deeper you find that having all of these “choices” can actually be clinically depressing. Listen to the presentation by Barry Schwartz, the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action in the Psychology Department at Swarthmore College at itconversations.com.Jon like many other “level headed” Americans are stumbling upon these truths held as self evident. Technological Americans have been disconnected from the environment since European immigrants were stacking Buffalo skulls on The Great Plains. The very existence of the word “environment” in this language reveals a disconnection from nature that goes far the more deeper than dreamt of in Jon’s dude philosophy. It’s the mobile phone—and more mobile devices to come—that brings this disconnection close to Jon’s home. Boo hoo…