The Amish, unlike the The United States of America they live in, are a collective unit whose bond transcends the individualistic society that surrounds it. With a lifestyle that emphasizes familial relationships, religion, and community, the Amish take care of one another. By shunning the increasingly modern world, the Amish remain united through shared values that emphasize humility. This core value is evident in their simplistic clothing, car-less transportation methods and rural community locations. Above all, the Amish live happy, stress free lives that we modern folk should strive to emulate. Simply put (pun intended), we have a lot to learn from the Amish.
Technology has the pedal to the metal and it refuses to ease up. Every time you catch up, the light turns green and it has passed you yet again. It is impossible to keep. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to stay up with everything that is going on, though it certainly doesn’t stop us from trying. Buy the new iPhone 5, read books on your Kindle Fire, Instagram every place you go, order you groceries online, Yelp your frustrations, blog your every thought and try, just try, to stay up on all the newest apps. For example, read this typical
fake interchange between two very real 20somethings:
“Do you have Shazam?” “Check!”
“The new Angry Birds?” “Uh huh!”
“Ooh, what about Dropbox?” “Got it!”
“Roadify?” “How do you think I got here?”
“What about Weathermob?” “Rainboots, duh!”
“Twitter?” “Oh come on, try harder.”
“Hmm, FourSquare?” “Tagged this spot 10 minutes ago.”
“Okay, Superbetter?” “Better but of course.”
“Got it, Foodily?” “Fuu…um, give me a sec……….yep!”
Depressing? These apps are meant to simplify our lives but they have the ability to multiply so quickly that they require constant attention. You don’t want to get out-teched so you had better stay in the conversation or you risk being on the outside looking in. All these apps, and technology in general, fall under the ‘connection’ umbrella. To stay connected, you need to at least try to keep up with emerging technology so you don’t get stuck in the rain. It is lonely when you are aren’t part of the tech community so you better stay plugged in.
Pull the plug
With all the endless work associated with trying to keep up, when does it become time to pull the plug? You don’t need to go all Amish, but you perhaps you can go all Neo. Like he did in The Matrix, perhaps it is time to choose to have your plug pulled so you can actually see the real world around you. You just might be amazed at what you’ll find when you tune into life. Going out to dinner won’t consist of checking yourself in, becoming a quasi-food critic or forcing an awkward picture request so you can successfully tag yourself and the people you are with. Instead, perhaps over dinner you’ll enjoy the company of your friends and have actual conversations that involve probing life’s questions instead of just Googling them. Your friends are beautiful, intelligent and fun or you wouldn’t be friends with them, so look at them, listen to them, and enjoy their company.
Plug in or out?
Technology is good, not evil. We live in a modern world that is chalk full of opportunities because of technology and I am not advocating for a complete break. For example, I don’t want you to just ‘wing it’ on directions to a new place tonight instead of using your wonderful travel companion Mr. GPS; I’m just saying it is important not to over do it. Hell, even the Amish use cell phones now! The key word here is moderation. As with all things in life, technology should be moderated so that you can achieve balance in your life.
My advice is to focus your energy into building relationships and focusing on them through real-life interactions. You won’t end up homeless and alone if you have real friends that care about you. I’m willing to be that your online ‘followers’ will move on if you are out of the picture which obviously wouldn’t be of much assistance to you. The key, as exemplified by the Amish, is to be a part of a loving community that values you for who you are and nothing more.
The next time you are on a metro or in a plane, try taking out your headphones and just pay attention to what you see around you. Hear the sounds, good or bad, and give yourself the opportunity to engage your physical surroundings. Hold off the urge to touch base with your online community and make a temporary new one with the people around you. Keep fighting the urge so you can also allow yourself to think, to contemplate the actual things you’ll be doing, and ignore all the things you think you are missing on Facebook with each passing second. When you start to give in, just ask yourself one question: What Would the Amish Do?