I once did a 10-day silent meditation retreat (Vipassana) that has some similarities to the author's journey. The lack of communication and interaction was even more extreme than just cutting off technology. I found myself bored quite often. But the focused meditation practice helped me find a new state of mental focus that was remarkable. I don't practice meditation anymore so I don't see this benefit daily but I at least know what my mind is capable of.
Every word GP said feels like it describes my first experience. I had some pretty profound realizations while there and expected that it would be pretty life altering. However I took no care in how I re-entered life and the combination of immediately going back to using phone/computer and traveling around in a third-world country was almost more than I could handle. I felt like I was going crazy adapting back to a stressful world from one where my mind was so calm. I did try to continue meditating, but I found I had nowhere near the concentration I needed to get value from the practice.
But I resolved to try again, so I attended another 10-day retreat trying to apply lessons learned from my first attempt. The second time, I planned in advance to slowly re-integrate myself into my normal life. I booked a hotel room for a few days after the retreat to lock myself away and start adding back distractions one at a time. This worked better and I was able to keep up my meditation routine (1hr in the mornings, 1hr in the evenings) for 2 months after that. But I found that 2hrs/day mediation is pretty qualitatively different from the kind you get at the retreats (more than 8hrs /day). I still think daily meditation is valuable, but given its lesser impact and the distractions and stresses of everyday life, I just sort of fell out of practice and haven't restarted.
I am hopeful to do more retreats and do better at integrating meditation practice into my everyday life. But, suffice it to say, my first two attempts at that didn't succeed in a way that lasted more than the two months following my second retreat.
There's lots of shorter meditation apps offering similar times and tout a whole host of benefits.
I wanted to see how focused my mind could get so that's why I did Vipassana. The improvement was noticeable but I'm not such a scatter-brain normally that the benefit is worth 2 hrs/day investment.
There are other benefits beyond focus, such as calmness of mind, and likely a higher happiness baseline from realizing you need little to be at peace. I'm fortunate to not have mental health issues and an amazing family so again the benefits to me were not as profound.
I do hope to take it up again, but likely after retirement, or (heaven forbid) there's a dramatic event in my life that increases the value of this technique.
We actually cook pretty much every meal so we’re eating healthier and spending that time together instead of taking turns cooking while the other works. All of the time we spend on reading short articles on the internet is shifted to things like reading full length books. Instead of watching TV, movies, or playing online games we end up indulging in arts & crafts.
I also get to do a lot more conceptual / big picture thinking whereas normally I’m just thinking about how to execute my current and upcoming tasks; I keep a notebook and it’s pretty easy to tell if I was at the AirBNB or not depending on the types of notes I was taking.
I end up feeling less harried after a week there. And my experience has not been the same for “normal” vacations (I.e. sight-seeing, visiting family/friends, etc.). Those types of breaks are important for other reasons, but they don’t have the same type of clarifying effect for me. Maybe if I were better at resisting the siren call of the internet.
I use the electric toothbrush if I've had a significant amount of sugar that day (not often), and otherwise use the manual one. The manual one is some sensodyne super-soft-bristle shit. If I use the electric toothbrush every day my gums hurt. I once went to the dentist as a kid and he told me I'd brushed off a lot of my enamel. Maybe I don't know how to brush my teeth or my enamel is just really soft. In any case, the manual one helps me get everywhere without fear of hurting myself.
Paired with a good charger and an extra set of rechargeable batteries it's a joy to use. Best health "investment" I've done in recent years.
The Amish do not eschew all technology all the time.
When the car came, they saw that cars made families and communities live further apart. They didn’t like that, so they went back to horses.
When the phone came they liked the ability to connect and the ability to call for emergency services, but they didn’t like the gossip factor. So they installed their phones in separate booths outside their homes, so everyone can see who is using the phone too much.
The various Amish sects use differing oral guidelines based on myriad interpretations of a dubious collection of contradictory historical anecdotes in order to come up with the rules for their particular outpost at that particular time.
This leads to situations where cars are used, but not owned, as distinct from your 'so they went back to horses' summary. (I'm sure the car thing varies between sects.)
Similarly, some sects realise phones are important for business and ensuring a viable lifestyle for their offspring, so they may be installed in some business locations, but not in homes. Unless that home is where the dairy farmer lives, and it's deemed important they have quick access to call a veterinarian. (etc)
Rules around button usage based on gender, day of week, visibility of the button itself, and village you're in at the time?
There may be post hoc explanations and fascinating (mis)interpretations of some short stories published around and after the 2nd century, but I think it's safe to call it arbitrary.
But two things:
1. rules with alleged reasons (for someone) doesn't mean they're reasonable rules for everyone else, and
2. I initially bemoaned arbitrary parallels with TFA -- not that Amish made arbitrary rulings -- so, as noted, I'm now in the weird position where I'm defending something I didn't claim. (Anyway, you may be assuming arbitrary has a single meaning, that of being a synonym for 'random', which isn't entirely accurate. No two words are 100% synonyms, after all.)
EDIT: Actually, 3 things. Amish rules are not consistent amongst all amish, as I noted above -- there's a lot of disparity between different communities, which suggests that the reasons are not especially objective (otherwise they'd all reach the same conclusion), which in turn leads to a conclusion there's some arbitrary (in the personal whim sense) aspects to them.
Before _The Thoughts_, this paragraph in _The Notepad_ caught my eye:
> Honestly, I don’t consider the bad memory the younger generations have to be that big of a problem. True, we have to search for information all over again, but it might be a good thing. Information is so quick to change now. What you learned yesterday might have already become all wrong today, while bad memory has you find the latest, most accurate data every time.
I think this person _should_ worry a bit about this lack of memory, if it is a real phenomenon. If you're not updating the knowledge in your head, then how do you develop instincts about what to trust? There is a certain rate of change you should learn from experience, which you never notice if you have no memory. Some things you should expect to be different every day, and some things should not change very often, and if they do (or don't) change, they deserve more scrutiny. If you don't know the answer from yesterday or last week, you're stuck in a kind of neverending present and you're easy to deceive (a la _Memento_)
I miss my Palm Pre, Oreo effect and all.
I've had so much fun with my first Apple IIc about 25 years ago -- and I'm looking forward to a calmer future when I can tinker with whatever I feel like again.