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New Technology Is Making Us More Like the Amish (slate.com)
53 points by pitt1980 on Dec 26, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

This hits home with me. My wife and I were just discussing our redditing/news feed problem earlier today (basically, we can't put our iPhones down). This has been going on for months and it's affecting our relationship. Not in a drastic negative way, but we can't even watch a movie together anymore without fcking around with our smartphones. Anyway, we're unplugging on Saturdays now. We'll see how that goes.

Don't have any self-control? I might be different than most but as I'm at my desk coding and surfing 10 hours a day the last thing I want to do fsck with a phone while I'm watching a movie. That's escape time.

In short, I decided I don't want to and therefore don't, simple as that.

Also, productivity pundits will recommend checking mail/news once or twice a day max. Any more is a waste of time.

There seems to be some irony here. Namely that "escape time" is staring at another screen.

Nothing personal here - what you do with your time and how you unwind is entirely up to you, I just thought it was worth noting this isn't entirely different physically than sitting at a desk, starting at your computer screen.

Although the physical position is the same (sitting) and the object of focus is the same in a general sense (a screen), the two activities are very different.

Watching a movie can be much like reading a book: a concerted focus on a long story. In contrast, reading Reddit on your smartphone might be more like browsing the funnies in the newspaper.

As an analog analog, you wouldn't say that reading Dostoyevsky and reading Zits are very similar activities, despite that both involve sitting and staring at paper.

He mentioned watching a movie, so that's what I replied with. Escape time can be a lot of different things, but the common thread is the "escape" (from work and obligations) part.

I was at a family dinner party that included a father and two young daughters (probably aged 5 and 7).

They were tugging at his slacks while he was balancing a martini and talking about something to me and another adult.

He leaned out of the conversation and spoke to the host:

"Do you have a wii we can throw these two on?"

This feels deeply troubling for child development. Learning how to interact at a young age often comes from watching elders interact.

For the kid to be staring at a phone/tv so they won't disturb the adults and be "quiet" takes this crucial learning experience away.

If you haven't noticed this parenting pattern before - pay attention next time you're in a queue, family restaurant or group gathering including young children.

I can't stand watching people parenting like that. It's sad to see the rejection. To be honest I was a victim of such things back in the day and it did a lot of damage for years. I was always second to whichever current affairs program was on television.

I decided to do things different with my kids, and after all, one of the reasons I had kids was to have someone to play with :)

There is very little technology required to amuse and/or educate children. Some imagination, a pencil and some paper is literally hours of fun to be had. The crucial bit is time, which you absolutely must make at the right time.

Its 3am here. This is my own time :)

I downgraded to a basic phone around 4 weeks ago, and am very happy with my decision. If I find it really necessary to look something up or answer an email while at the dinner table, I make the trek up my stairs to do so. I didn't realize quite how often I was on my phone checking texts/emails/facebook. If I didn't feel a buzz for a couple of minutes, I found myself checking my pocket to make sure my phone was still there. Now I can leave my phone upstairs or on the counter without thinking twice. My wife is now considering the change herself. Now that I'm not on it so much, she finds herself being the one distracted from our conversations and doesn't like it.

I am considering this myself.

To be honest, I only got my first 'in my hand all the time' smartphone at the end of last year.

The only positive use for it so far has been to check bus times when out (TfL.gov.uk) and read the odd pdf. The latter has just been replaced by an e-reader thanks to my wife so time for the phone to go?

Back to my Nokia 6303...

My friend Julie coaches girls soccer (5-7 year olds). Parents go to the game but sometimes "aren't there". She has resorted sometimes to verbally prompting (play-by-play almost) the parents of each kid/player (e.g. "Go, Hanna! Good cross") to get the parents to look up from their smartphones and watch their own kids.

Smartphones are the ringing bell (Pavlov) embodied.

This hit really close to home for me. Two years ago I had a nearly falling out with my partner because she claimed I wasn't listening to her enough (I was, it was a yum cha place, and I was busy reading reddit on my phone).

I introspected a bit and decided to change my lifestyle. I would let technology adapt around me, instead of me adapting my lifestyle/life choices around technology. Although I must say this one is a two way street - I cannot live without my smart phone.

Now, we have rules: When having personal one-on-one time with other people, no mobiles allowed. We still suck with crowds so, mobiles still come out in crowds like parties.

Personally I think this has got to do with our brains and our information diet. We're being constantly drip fed information that is being pushed to us. I feel sometimes that pulling information, with limits (HN's procrastination feature is great). Heck I even wrote a write up on this: http://theslowweb.com, and tried to get a movement going.

Oh well.

Didn't know that about Amish, now I am actually interested in their ways :) Thanks for sharing.

Check out Kevin Kelly's great book, “What Technology Wants”.

He really got to know some Amish communities and has some fascinating thoughts on how their approach to technology is a good role model. He adds the twist that many of us should be early adopters to try every new technology, but put it through the same, “How does this benefit us?” questioning that the Amish do.

My book notes are at http://sivers.org/book/WhatTechnologyWants

This article on Amish hackers might be interesting to you: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/02/amish_hackers...

I love this, this totally demonstrates the hypocrisy of any church. Even the most dedicated cheat when they know they can't be caught.

Smartphones change everything, they are like the wheel. For the first time in human history, we (nearly) all have what Bill Gates said, All the world's "Information at Your Fingertips" - literally. Since humans are pack animals, anything that strengthens the herd will prevail over every other human need.

I don't know WTF you're saying but it does seem like you'd appreciate the lengths to which supposedly religious Jews will go to avoid complying with rules regarding the Sabbath.

When I enter a cafe with -every- -single- -patron- heads-down in their laptop screen, I think: -this- is the opium den of the 21st century.

If there is any truth to the idea of the technological singularity, then I imagine we'll all become luddites to some degree eventually. I can't imagine keeping up with frequent disruptive technological change indefinitely.

I think the level of disruption will have to be matched with the level of benefit, both measured subjectively. Most of the changes that people are describing here are different, but not objectively worse. You have a choice in how you relate to the world and how much technology you want to put between yourself and everyone else.

There is, and will continue to be, a huge market for wrapping new technology in familiar clothes. If you can make a revolutionary product, good for you, but making an old product revolutionary again is much better.

I definitely noticed the distracting nature other comments have mentioned of having a constantly available Internet connection today. I saw that FX was showing "Monsters vs. Aliens" late last night. I had not seen it, so DVRed it. I started watching this evening.

Early in the movie, a character is excited about the chance for an anchorman job at a Fresno TV station. His fiancée says she thinks Fresno is a top 50 market. He tells her it is #55.

It took a tremendous act of will on my part to not hit pause and grab my iPad to check to see if they got Fresno's rank right.

They did.

I call them iPhone Orphans.

I do not know if it original (if it is you heard it here first) but I remember seeing two young (German) kids at breakfast in a Piccadilly cafe waiting for their parents Sitting next to them to get off their phones and talk to their own children

At that moment this phrase popped into my mind and has stuck there ever since

Loved the expression.

I have a friend who once said, "Wanna have lunch alone? Invite someone who has an iPhone."

There was a similar term that came about when another company dominated the mobile business world -"Blackberry widow".

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