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February 1, 2010

"Technology is my native tounge..."

After reading Howard Rheingold's "Look Who's Talking" section in Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age, I have to admit that I have the same feelings about the Amish as I did before reading.

I could never be one of them.

But with that being said, in some ways I do admire what they bring to the diverse table called America. When I first read through some other classmates entries on this reading I thought about how, especially during my years at college, when I should be using technology the most, I've encountered many times to give up all forms of it to make my life simpler and "more free."

I've been working at Jumonville, a Christian camp in Hopwood, PA (a location very close to an Amish-like community) every summer since coming to college and while the camp itself is very much in this century, thanks to the tech savvy President, Larry Beatty, as summer staff we are highly encouraged (as I said on Megan's entry) to leave our cell phones behind at all times, unless we need them for emergencies and we are only able to get on the computers located in the office on Saturdays, after our campers have left and only while the office is unlocked during the day. Also, my sophomore year college I did a Media Fast, in which I gave up all forms of media for Lent. Although it was much easier to actually accomplish than I thought it would be, I have to admit the number of times I was bored out of my mind was astonishing to me because I wasn't able to get on Facebook.

But, I also have to say that even though I use technology probably more than the average person does per day, I don't feel that I am ever doing something to harm a relationship or use technology in a way that would "take me a way from the community."

I really attached to the quote Rheingold takes from one of the Amish men he meets that says, "We don't want to be the kind of people who will interrupt a conversation at home to answer a telephone. It's not just how you use technology that concerns us. We're also concerned about what kind of person you become when you use it" (380). Even though I understand that, that category of people consists of dead-beat dads, over talkative teenage girls, gossiping church ladies and a few too many business men, I'm sure, I wonder what kind of person that Amish man is talking about.

Rheingold later quotes him when he asks the questions of how many of us interrupt a physical conversation to answer a phone call and who really benefits from the use of call waiting? Well, I'm sure that all of us have at least done the first and honestly, no one benefits from being put on hold while someone changes lines to take another call. Imagine if that same kind of conversation happened physically. I have a feeling that more people would walk away then the people that actually stay on hold until the person returns to the other phone line. But does that mean that we should ban all of these new advances? Should we limit ourselves because the Amish think we're not doing something right?

Although I'm all about face-to-face conversation coming in over email, chatrooms or telephone lines, sometimes that is not always possible and why would you go without talking to someone just because you cannot see their face? Besides, that's why God invented Skype.  



Chelsea, I liked how you interwove your own anecdotes about your summer job and your Media Fast for Lent. Those experiences allow for you to appreciate technology in a different manner than others who may be more or less comfortable with differing immersion levels of technology. Rheingold's interview of the Amish did make it seem like their interaction with some English people left something to be desired, much like stereotypes of individuals consumed by their own creations. But there are truly moments when I wish that I could just throw my cell phone out a two story window and gleefully watch it blast into a million pieces. Of course, then I would promptly freak out and have no one to call about my disaster. Even so, it's nice to see a friendly face every once in a while, even if it's as you mentioned via a camera online.

Your Media Fast experience intrigues me. I have a few friends who gave up all forms of media for a week and even that was brutal for them. Did you have to give up your cellphone as well? I suppose you'd be used to it because you don't typically have it on you when you go to the camp. I really admire you for being able to separate yourself from technology like that. From the moment I wake up until I go to sleep at night, I'm connected to some form of technology. My iPhone is always with me, so I can always access the internet if I need to...my friends make fun of me because any time one of us doesn't know something, I eagerly exclaim, "I'll google it!" and then proceed to do so on the spot. I could probably go without my laptop or even television for a few days, but I don't think I'd be able to give that sort of thing up for Lent.

Jessie, I actually kept my cellphone during the Media Fast and since it was during the school year, I checked my email since that seems to be the only way SHU knows how to communicate. But I did limit my use of both of those things the whole time.

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