Analog Activities In A Digital Age. - Bruce Turkel

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People used to sit on the porch or in the parlor and play musical instruments.

Today we just hit the “play” button on Apple Music or Spotify and listen to anything we want.

People used to grow seasonally-appropriate fruits and vegetables in window boxes and backyard gardens.

Today we pick any fruits or vegetables we want from the displays at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or our local grocery stores.

People used to change the oil and fix their own cars in their driveways.

Today we drop our cars off with professional mechanics who do a computer analysis before unclipping the failing parts and plugging in the new parts.

Or we simply dispense with our own cars all together and turn to our phones to hail rides with apps such as Uber and Lyft.

As computerization takes over more and more of our lives, old school analog knowledge and skills are giving way to up-to-the-minute, instantaneous digital solutions.

Globalization means seasonal fruits are available year-round. Because when peaches aren’t ripening in Georgia, they’re filling the trees in Chile or China. And they’re available by the bushel, with nary a bruise, bump or bug between them.

Computerized engine management means cars don’t break down any longer. Besides that, since the average lease only lasts three years or 36,000 miles, what’s the chance you’re going to be driving an older car anyway?

And you’ll never ever find a missed note or a forgotten lyric on a professionally produced and recorded song.

All of these newer solutions tend to be faster, cheaper, more convenient, more precise, and certainly more ubiquitous.

When was the last time you Cotton-picked a guitar, gapped a sparkplug or root-pruned a basil plant?

For that matter, when was the last time you spread gesso on a canvas, reefed your mainsail, waxed your board, prepared a chiffonade of basil, roll cast a hand-tied fly or learned to ride fakie?

It’s my sincere belief that in a time when more and more of our time and attention is being consumed by arm’s length digital activities that we watch or listen to while plopped on an overstuffed couch, making one simple change can bring us more enjoyment, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

Just turn off the device and pick up the thing.


  1. Thank you! What is your snail-mail address? I’m sending you a Christmas card — a real one.

  2. aileen ellis says:

    Love this post. I feel best when I am doing physical work. For example, cleaning my horse’s stall. The sweat, the smell, being right next to more horse. Hearing the other horses in the barn.
    Cleaning the stall, while a chore for many, is the best time of day for me. Glad my daughter has learned to appreciate these simple pleasures in life.

  3. Bill Sobers says:

    I absolutely agree Bruce. About a month ago my girlfriend and I spent a week rafting the Grand Canyon with no access to electronic devices. It was the most rewarding experience in a long time. In a year when the wheels fell off the world it was a much needed break.

  4. Henry Martinez says:

    Love this post. It has taken generations/decades for many of those things to change, not sure how it would only fall on the boomers.
    These changes might be age related or imposed upon us by the pressures of our work life or our urban living reality. As everything in life, striking an appropriate balance is the key, using the technological advancements that we have to our favor but not forgetting to put in the time to conduct those healthy analogue activities and most importantly spending quality time with family and friends.

  5. Susan Brooks says:

    I’ve got to agree on this article. I actually chiffonaded fresh basil and fresh mint last night. Besides being one of the easiest ways to finely chop herbs, it is just so much fun to say chiffonade. Then again it takes so little to entertain me these days, but fun words can raise the spirit. Are you familiar with a spoodle? Apparently auto-correct is not. Among other endeavors, I train food service employees and I love training on portion control because I get to say spoodle which is a cross between a ladle and a serving spoon. Although technology has made life easier in many respects, it has impaired some folks’ communication skills. I’m fortunate that I still get to talk and interact with people with hands on training. Touching emotions goes a long way.Thanks for the uplifting piece.

  6. Jeanna Hofmeister says:


    You are so right on with this! We were just watching a documentary on PBS last night about a new book that basically blames Boomers (aka. the ME generation) for the lack of communication between us humans, and I commented that they didn’t, at least in the interview, mention the advent of modern technologies over the past 40 years, that has changed the way everyone interacts, diminishing the need to ask for opinions and help, advice, or just general soft skills like making conversation.

    I’m glad to say I still garden, prune, pick, and can. I still fish, ride a bike, paddle a kayak and pontoon boat. But the crowds out there were limiting for some of my favorite activities that are, by necessity, device free. Here’s hoping we start to realize that this country’s polarization could begin to be addressed if we’d learn to actually DO THINGS again, and talk to and show others that doing which would make all our lives richer.

    Best wishes,


  7. max sturman says:

    Picking up the thing (pencils & markers) has improved my outlook!
    Drawing on a computer is how I make my living. Sketching free hand is how I live! However, there is a way to marry the two – technology allows us to insert sketches directly into presentation documents – greatly enhancing our clients’ understanding of our design intent and building departments’ understanding of the construction methodology.

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