Technology and living the simple life

Technology and the simple life.  No matter how I put those words together in a sentence it just doesn’t sound right.  Obviously I employed technology to prepare this blog post, to take the photograph, to distribute it across the internet and project it onto the screen of readers everywhere.  My entire professional career to date had been working for a technology company, and being a member of Gen Y, I grew up with computers and gadgets and toys with lots of flashy lights.   I should just naturally embrace technology without question, right?  – But if I’m to properly adopt the simple life, shouldn’t I be divorcing myself of this high tech world and adopting a more low tech existence?


This is a question that has been a focus for me over the last week.  In my job I’d been provided with a laptop loaded with all the software I needed to get my job done, a mobile phone with a plan that was covered by my employer and the ability to use both for an appropriate level of personal use.   I didn’t have any choice in the matter, it was just a tool you use to get work done, in much the same way a builder uses a hammer. So now that I need to hand back my two major pieces of technology on my way out the door, do I need to replace them? Really?

This is probably a question that everyone will answer differently.  Sure, my life won’t suddenly come to an end if I don’t replace my mobile phone and computer.  But everyone has different levels of appreciation towards how such things add value to their lives.

I found some words that were inline with my own personal thoughts in the text of this paragraph, taken from the Simplicity Collective website:

It should be noted that voluntary simplicity does not, however, mean living in poverty, becoming an ascetic monk, or indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan. And it is not some escapist fad reserved for saints, hippies, or eccentric outsiders. Rather, advocates of simplicity suggest that by examining afresh our relationships with money, material possessions, the planet, ourselves and each other, ‘the simple life’ of voluntary simplicity is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much consumption is truly ‘enough.

So what did I do?  – Well, I replaced them, but I did it my way…

I bought a low-cost, unlocked phone outright, and when it comes to subscribing to a mobile provider, I’m going for pre-paid, month-to-month and low cost.  I won’t receive any unsolicited offers to renew a 24 month contract and retire a perfectly good handset for a new one.  If a cheaper pre-paid offer surfaces with another provider, I can switch without feeling trapped.  If I ever decided to opt out completely I can, without being threatened with termination fees.  If the phone is to ever become lost or damaged, I don’t need to consider pricey insurance options or be concerned with hefty replacement costs – it wasn’t too expensive in the first place.

In terms of a computer, I claimed a second hand desktop for free, a few years old, that was “broken” and came with the Operating System and MS Office on CDs.  I’m pretty good at fixing computers, so after a bit of diagnosis and a new power supply and hard drive, it’s back up and running in all it’s former glory and should do me well for a few years more.

The nature of technology is that it is so quickly outdated (as much for fashionable reasons than practical reasons) and discarded like yesterdays newspaper.  Technology also doesn’t have a good reputation for being kind to the environment in terms of manufacture and disposal.   I think the best I can do to honour the impact it causes as part of it’s overall life-cycle is look after it to drive the most out of it, repair it where I can, and ensure it is recycled at the end of it’s functional life.   

And that, is doing technology in my own simple way.


7 thoughts on “Technology and living the simple life

  1. livingsimplyfree

    Technology can be the bane of my existence some days. When my computer, which was built from salvaged parts, finally died i broke down and purchased a notebook. The reason being that I wanted to use less electricity than my old desktop did, and a notebook uses less materials to create as it is so much smaller. Sure I will have to live without the DVD drive, but that’s okay. When my son passed on a phone he received new from his employer I found I rather liked reading ebooks on it more than on the computer, so I am able to pass up the purchase of the Kindle I had debated for a few years. The one other advantage I rather like about the notebook is that I can put it away out of sight and can keep the modem under the couch. My home appears devoid of any technology, and that’s nice.

  2. Kathy

    Yes it’s a tricky subject because with all this modern technology comes monthly plans and out of date equipment. I’ve got an iphone 3 on a really good plan and would love the iPhone 5 for the camera (because it’s much better) however I’ve resisted twice when the plan came around to renew or upgrade because it was a “want” and not a “need”. It was hard but in the end I like my monthly plan as it is. The computer on the other hand and internet is also tricky as I have had to upgrade my mobile internet plan this year another $20 per month. The thing was when I ran out I had to top up for $15 for a small amount and then sometimes twice and the last time it was 3 times which far exceeded the guarantee $20 and way more data. When you get the latest equipment for work you use it but don’t really realize how great it is until, like you say you had to hand it all back. You’ve done well to get by for now without investing too much. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia (ps…where’s the updated family photo with the bub?)

  3. Geraldine

    Hi Michael
    My son does not have a mobile phone, but they are doing a week in the city and he has been asked to get one for that so he can stay in contact with his group. I have an old one. Where do you go to get the sim card and mth by mth? I just went to 3 when I got my phone and never shopped around.

    1. suburbandigs Post author

      Hi Geraldine, I’m going to go with ALDIMobile myself. You can pick up a SIM card in store for $5 and then charge up the phone on either an unlimited plan for $35/month or “pay as you go” plans for $15 or $30, with the credit lasting up to 365 days. My basis for doing so is because ALDIMobile uses the Telstra network, which I have good experiences with in terms of coverage. More info on the plans is available here: Hope that helps!

  4. Emily

    I totally understand where you are coming from. We have to use computers for work, but in a household of two people, we have three PC’s, three laptops and two internet phones!! Not something I am proud of – I think it comes down to bad planning and wants more than needs. But my major issue with technology is how portable and easily accessed it is now. My phone – having the internet everywhere means I never sit and think, or if I am doing something I never give it my full attention and internet is full of infinite search possibilities that I find it hard to walk away from.
    But small steps, I didnt get a new phone when my plan ran out and I am much more concious of buying items for an actual purchase rather than ‘it would be nice to have’.

  5. Brad Grierson

    It’s a tough progression simplifying one’s lifestyle, especially when one works in the technological communications field where one is expected to have the latest and greatest so that it can be adequately explained and sold. It’s small steps really. I cut cable television years ago and never looked back. Other things are harder like cutting out internet. I use it for everything. A focus that has been helpful is cutting out physical expenses and slowly getting rid of things I don’t need. I’m not as simple as I’d like to be, but I’m making progress.


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