For the first time, [Logan Lane, the 17-year-old founder of the Luddite Club,] experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.
Some stories hit you at the right time in your life and bring your emerging (or well-cultivated, as the case may be) worldview into greater focus. You might, for instance, be sitting at your kitchen table waiting for your dinner to finish cooking and happen on an article about a bunch of Brooklyn teens who have eschewed the trappings of modern online society in favor of less technology and more tree-gazing.
Vee De La Cruz, who had a copy of “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois, said: “You post something on social media, you don’t get enough likes, then you don’t feel good about yourself. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone. Being in this club reminds me we’re all living on a floating rock and that it’s all going to be OK.”
I’m not about to throw my iPhone out a window and replace it with a flip phone, nor do I think it’s particularly valuable to put too much stock into something like the preventably tragic story of Chris McCandless. That’s just me; these kids can take it as far as they please. But I do think that the broader lesson of spending more time with your eyes directed at the world or in a book is a powerful one.
Written in the article is a concern amongst the teenagers about this endeavor being seen as classist by their peers. I feel the concern is overblown and inspired by a misguided sense of what “classist” can mean. Is it not classist to require a phone, especially a smartphone, to be “included in society”? The derision these people are facing surely comes from a lack of understanding. It’s a shame that such a harmless thing would garner such ridicule, but I guess that comes with teenage territory. Again, they should do as they please.
I especially appreciate the closing of the article:
As they marched through the dark, the only light glowing on their faces was that of the moon.
Which surely ham-fisted that haughty title onto the reporter’s article. ↩︎