Slate on Amish values in technology

Jamey Wetmore at Slate has written an article arguing that new technologies are making us behave more like the Amish, which struck me (as I'm sure was the point) as slightly absurd.  I didn't realize, though, that the Amish values surrounding technology aren't about outright avoidance of electronics or combustion engines -- it's that the Amish take a defensive stance against technology as an effort to protect the family and community.

For many of us, the technology rules the Amish have developed seem arbitrary and silly. But they are actually thought through very well. The Amish meet twice a year in groups of 40-50 families to decide if any rules need to be changed. If someone is thinking about using a new technology, this would definitely be a topic of conversation. What are the metrics for making decisions about technology? Community and family. The Amish believe that the best life is one that is lived in community with fellow believers. The majority of their decisions are driven by the goal of strengthening the ties they have to one another.

So those seemingly arbitrary rules I just mentioned do have a purpose. Why can’t an Amish person buy a car? They’ve seen how our communities have slowly unraveled to the point where many of us don’t even know the names of our neighbors. They think the automobile—which gives us the ability to travel great distances by ourselves quickly—bears a great deal of the blame for this. But they do see the benefit of occasionally using car travel, and if a neighbor wants to lend a hand, spending time with them helps to strengthen their ties.

Jamey makes a lot of solid points in this article.  I mean, I still wouldn't want the rest of civilization to start focusing on family as much as the Amish do.  I think that would be really bad for us, and I think America's reduced emphasis on family is a good thing.

But I like the idea of structuring our relationships with technology to build communities, rather than focusing just on profit and convenience.  This reminds me of one of my favorite TED talks "The shareable future of cities" by Alex Steffen, specifically the bit about halfway through about the drill.

Car Troubles Redux

Previously:

Despite living in a town with a high enough population to justify public transportation, there are no such options — unless I want to get into Boston, in which case the nearest form of public transportation is a bus that’s a twenty minute drive from my house.  I could be angry at the hyper-conservative segment of US politics that resists public transportation because “America ain’t Europe, Dammit.”

Today, I finally got confirmation that, yes, the car is completely busted.  I don't have anything remotely resembling the amount of money necessary to get a new car.  So, I'm going to have to drop my classes this semester.  I have no idea how I'm going to look for a job, so I'm probably not going to get the money.

Sometimes it feels like I ought to be able to see the future.  It's what happens when something I took for granted goes away -- like a car.  I think it's because I had previously been able to plan, and what I'm seeing in that brainspace now is a big 404 where there used to be content.

I'm still really, really pissed that there isn't public transportation around here.  I still hate that I need a car around here.

Car Troubles

My car broke down. Despite living in a town with a high enough population to justify public transportation, there are no such options -- unless I want to get into Boston, in which case the nearest form of public transportation is a bus that's a twenty minute drive from my house.  I could be angry at the hyper-conservative segment of US politics that resists public transportation because "America ain't Europe, Dammit."

That's the socially conscious reason I'm angry.  I'm also pissed that I have to deal with trying to fix my car even though I have no money, then, compoundly, all the other reasons having no money is stressful, and then, how it might already be difficult to find a job, but I'm definitely not going to find an employer who wants me if I can't get to work.

Right now, I'm drinking a gin and whatever-else-I-could-find-in-the-fridge[1.Margarita mix, maraschino cherries with some of the juice from the bottle, and ice.  It's not great, but it's better than gin and ginger ale.  Oh, and I can't afford to buy tonic.], and I'm about to catch up on some YouTube, because I can't ████ing deal with this ████ right now and it's going to be like two hours before I can do anything about it.  Like, maybe get my car off the side of the road ten miles from here.

I hate having a car.  I hate driving a car.  I hate being forced by the circumstances of my location to drive a car everywhere I want to go, and I hate that I can't just trade in the car to go live in a city, where I'd much rather be, where I can walk to all the basic needs type places, and take public transportation anywhere else I need to go.

Cars suck.  Comments (agreeing or disagreeing) are welcome.