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I don't think I could live the kind of life that the Amish live but I would like to start doing it justice.  After reading Howard Rheingold's essay titled "Look Whose Talking," from "Writing Material," I was reminded of a reality television show I had watched a few years ago called "Amish in the City".

Yes, this show really existed.  My mom and I thought it looked interesting so we decided to watch the first episode and we were immediately hooked.  The Amish men and women were at the young adult age and thrown into the "real" world for a few months with the question of "will they return to their Amish life or choose to live outside of it and be banned forever from their families?"

I was astounded by how much they didn't know about the modern culture that most people live in.  I watched their struggles and then watched their triumphs when some decided to go on and get degree's and live life outside their community while others enjoyed what they had experienced but longed for the peace they had in that small community.

"It's not just how you use the technology that concerns us.  We're also concerned about what kind of person you become when you use it" (Rheingold, 380)

As I learned more about the Amish when reading these pages, I realized what they were doing.  They were not looking to make life harder by not using the technology that we think makes our lives easier; instead, they are making their live easier and less complicated by using the simple machines, the ones that they could make themselves.  It seems to me that the Amish are evolving but they are not looking to evolve as fast as us.  They use the technology that they can create on their own.

Technology does change us.  The use of the television is purely for entertainment purposes.  It is never really needed.  The only truly positive use of it is to watch the news.  Computers have changed the world in probably a million ways and I honestly think we need that technology in the long run.  However, I can see how that much technology creates power in people that they probably shouldn't be feeling.

"'The thing I noticed about the telephone is the way it invades who you are,' Caleb said.  'We're all losing who we are because of the telephone and other machines - not just the Amish'" (Rheingold, 385).

I just recently returned from a retreat in which we had non technology all weekend.  We did not have access to any televisions or computers and we could not use our cell phones.  We barely had the knowledge of what time it was but none of that mattered.  We put ourselves in a place where it was quiet and peaceful and we didn't have to be anywhere but there.  All of those reasons made it more relaxing.  I didn't feel stressed because I was in a stress-free environment with people whom I would call family; just as the Amish live in their environment. 

Using that example of the small way of living I encountered like the Amish, I can understand better the reasons why they do it.  Of course it helped that I was in the midst of reading this story while I was on the retreat.  The Amish are choosing to evolve in their own way and I respect that.  Of course I think a lot of us could learn a thing or two about their community and the importance of family to them.  Still, many people in this world have created wonderful things using technology.  We need to find the right balance; though, looking at how fast we are moving, it would have to take a large force to slow us down.

4 Comments

Erica Gearhart said:

I watched an episode of Amish in the City before too. I thought it is really interesting that they suggest that their teens experience life outside of the community in order to gauge what they want in life. I think that this idea, along with the importance of the community evaluating technology use, is something that could be applied to our own lives. I know that I do not often think about how my life would be if I lived differently or without certain technologies, but I think it might be beneficial to do this sometime in one's life. It is really neat that you got to experience this on your retreat.

Megan Seigh said:

I agree with you that how the Amish live could be practiced in our own lives. I was definitely lucky to have experienced a little taste of that on my retreat because to be honest, I would never have done it if I wasn't in that situation where someone was telling me to. However, now having done that I think I will try not to worry about technology as much and just enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

Tiffany Gilbert said:

That is an interesting experiment, learning to live without technology for the weekend. I too, experienced that awhile ago for a whole week at camp. Although at 13 I didn't have a cellphone, laptop, or ipod, I was attached to my wrist watch. That was taken from me (but I had another because I knew it was banned...haha. I had to sneak a peek at the time). It was rough, but at the same time a unique experience. :)

Working at camp for the whole summer has really given me the experience in the "simple life." Although, after the three weeks of training are over we are allowed to use our cell phones whenever we need to (as long as it's not infront of campers) you kind of get used to not using it. And when you start to go without Facebook for a week, it gets easier and easier to forget about it - especially when we are only allowed to use the computers in the office at camp on Saturdays during certain times of the day.

But I still feel like after living in that way, and how relaxing it was (like you said) I still prefer my cell phone, laptop and iPod when it comes down to it. Even if those items tend to bring me some stress at times, they bring a lot more "freedom" in a different way for me as well.

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