Wednesday, February 23, 2011

useful tools

I like technology. I'm using some right now, actually. I'm writing a blog post on a computer, and it doesn't get more technological than that on a sheep farm. I also enjoy my home’s electricity, my combustion-engine truck, heated water buckets, my refrigerator, and the hundreds of other inventions and advances that make my life easier. They’re useful tools. I applaud them.

However, I am starting to slow my clapping down to a suspicious drumbeat. Things are getting out of hand. Between my growing addiction to wireless internet, smart phones, computers, iPads, video games, and the nonstop plethora of other gadgets being shoved down our throats: I am getting weary. I live in a house where my phone is both my alarm clock and my mail carrier. I can do my job (all 8 hours of my workday) without leaving a 4x4’ space. There’s a machine here that does my dishes. Another has a program does my taxes. I am fully capable of doing small-scale chores and simple math: and yet I am drawn to the easiest way out of the deal. I don't like this about myself.

I live and work on a small farm. Now, when I say small I mean it. Cold Antler Farm is six and a half acres with an 1100 square foot farmhouse. I drive a rusted ten-year-old Ford pickup truck. I own eight sheep and a chicken coop. I raised my pork one pig at a time. I know my geese on a first-name basis. This is not a large operation by any means and yet the life I have been training myself for has been incredibly physical. Even with such a small amount of land and animals: twice a day I am outside, sweating, hauling hay and water, noticing the changes in life and nature. It’s turned me into a seasonal runner, a full-time observer, and the occasional victim. It’s also changed how I view the role of technology in my life.

I want less.

There has to be a limit on the amount of technology we allow into our lives. If not, we are destined to fall into pathetic cultural entropy. What was once innovation has become a crutch. What was once novelty has become addiction. We are already acting as if we are handicapped. For year's we've been letting machines do everything from washing a single person's dishes to opening garage doors for people with working arms and legs. But now we have cell phones that give us directions, download audio books, send emails, and soon will act as our credit cards. There's no reason to ask a person for directions, go to the library, send a letter, or go into actual stores. It may seem like the simulacrum of progress, but I disagree. Instead it is creating a socially, physically, and dare I say it: emotionally retarded society.

Folks seem to have lost a lot of the ability to process and interact. I see it in the grocery store, in company meetings, and in parking lots. Public places are becoming places where the public has headphones on and angrily shuffle about from one destination to the other without so much as a wave to the other people they pass. I know folks who keep in touch with friends across the street online. I have seen friends of mine say and write things online they would never say in the etiquette of face-to-face interaction.

This is not progress. We’ve surpassed good work. We are starting to make human beings obsolete. Taking away human jobs for the sake of invention is not progress. Making people useless in our society is not something to be commended because it comes in a shiny black box you recharge twice a day. Having an automated robotic society running on fossil fuels or coal-fired electricity plants is also not Progress. I don’t want to live in a laborless, atomized, assembly-line world. Call me crazy, but I would rather see a future where people are of use. I want to know craftsmen, farmers, educators, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, storytellers, firefighters, pastors, salesmen, athletes, and artists. I want to hear music out of wood, strings, metal, skins, breath and peoples’ hands—not from headphones on an MP3 player. I want to walk across the street and talk to my neighbor about the weather and call another in an emergency. I want the skills and community back that buttons are taking away from me.

I think we’ve gotten so lost in the addiction of gadgets and innovation, drunk on what we can invent for the rush of it. A few weeks ago a robot that understood human conversation defeated every human contestant on Jeopardy. There is serious discussion by some pretty damn reputable people that the plotline from Battlestar Galactica is a scientific possibility. We already have created machines that understand and interact with humans. These robots are not curing cancer or handing out Malaria nets. They are outsmarting us on cable quiz shows. This is not noble work to me. This is an insult: a waste of resources and money

I have no idea if Cylons are are science fiction or fate. Like I said, I’m a 28-year-old sheep farmer, I don’t claim to understand the proper use of humanized robots. But what the hell. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest if there’s a chance they could take over the world we should probably stop building them and start building greenhouses instead. We have people to feed.

I hope for a change in how we see technology. I’m not a Luddite. I don’t want innovation to fade away. But I don’t see the point of a world where the average person isn’t useful unless they understand HTML 5. I do see a point where hard work, everyday dedication, and the honesty of craft, art, labor, and education are what drive us into a useful and co-dependant future.

So put down your iPad and pick up a shovel. I’m not saying you should throw it away, or cancel your Hulu subscription, just stop for a while. For chrissakes, go outside and work on your lawn. Take your kids to the park. Leave it to your newspaper or a friend’s recommendation to find a restaurant in Portland. Jog around the block. Plant a garden. Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Join a book club. Throw a tennis ball for your dog. Do anything that involves sweating without a touch screen out-of-doors. You don’t need to live on a small farm to notice the value of physical effort and interaction with things that bleed. But I am worried pretty soon the only people who do notice, will be those of us with hay to move around and lambs on the way. As far as I know, there isn’t an iPhone app for how to turn an inverted lamb around in a sheep’s uterus. For the love of god, I hope there never is.

88 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

*claps* Well said. Yet again.

February 23, 2011 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hear, hear!

February 23, 2011 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Dayle said...

AMEN!

February 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

Standing ovation!!

February 23, 2011 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

I'm glad I am not the only one that feels that way!

(Long time reader, first time commenter!)

February 23, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger J. said...

Amen, sister! You have a way with words!

February 23, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger kayxyz said...

I've read some place that in future, there will be a thin overlay of technology (all types) then the rest will be back-to-the-earth: farmers, CSAs, gardeners, livestock raising. The corporate jobs as we now know them will disappear, post-industrialization.

February 23, 2011 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Shana said...

Well put. I think it is all a matter of moderation. Of course that begs the question of how to moderate.

Also I agree that it has happened so, so fast. I remember not owning a computer at home (until 15 or so) and then playing "Oregon Trail" at school on the most giant, clunky, OLD computer. Now I have a Macbook air. 3 ilbs. In one lifetime!

February 23, 2011 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Have you read "Better Off?" Definitely the best book I have ever read on this subject and one I think you would appreciate. I actually have a copy I would be happy to send you if you have not read it yet.

February 23, 2011 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

could not agree more Jenna! Well said!

February 23, 2011 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

We've been feeling this way for a while. The feelings took on a sharper edge after reading The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. We're right there with you!
Thanks for a great blog!

February 23, 2011 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I totally agree and continue to say this to my children(40ish). You always say it so well!

February 23, 2011 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Felicia said...

Jenna,

Can I say with the greatest affection and respect, please honey take a breath. People have been worrying about technology replacing humans since the industrial revolution happened. You fall into a great line of wonderful thinkers including Thorreau and James McIntosh who started the whole Arts and Crafts movement which focused on the hand crafted, humanely made.

You can't stop the insistence of forward movement in ideas, science and technology. Sure some times it takes awhile as the world changes for us to get our balance back. And having myself been replaced by technology, it isn't fun when it happens to you. But slowly you realize that you and the rest of humanity are being freed up for the next wonder, the next big idea, the next discovery.

Without technology, I wouldn't have you, my dear Jenna. Your missives reach me every day in Nebraska. How would I have every found your great wit, wisdom and wonder at the world without technology?. Every day when I read you I feel like I'm living in a time in which the world serves up to me with the push of a button the next Thoreau, a person who lives an authentic life and shares it freely, a person with whom I can communicate in real time, a person pushing her own limits, vision and will.

So dear Jenna, because you are in the world and can share with me through the blessings of technology I see it as neither evil, nor malicious, nor out to do us harm. The world is simply spinning and bringing us something new each day. Some of it I like, some of it I'm not sure about, but all of it is so interesting.

February 23, 2011 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Amanda Hanley said...

Oof. I hate to be a lone dissenter, but after reading this I'd say you most definitely ARE a luddite. Maybe it's even worse than that, because you're saying it's okay that technology went so far, but it should go no further. Plus (and seriously, I say this as someone who reads you every single day) it sounds a little sanctimonious.

I only say so because these are things I'm very self-conscious of myself -- how much technology is too much, how do I explain our lack of TV without being preachy, how do I think and write about these things in a way that acknowledges how complicated and difficult the issue is. Still, I respect your honesty. Thanks for letting us follow along as you figure all this stuff out.

February 23, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I agree and I'm afraid "we" won't realize this until we've lost our soil and water. However, I find it ironic (and I love irony) that you communicate this through a blog.

February 23, 2011 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't think we'll lose our place to robots. I do think we'll get more dependant on them though. letting is get ill in the process.

thank you all

February 23, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

Huzzah!

February 23, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

You all love it but who is going to give up what ? Any takers ?

February 23, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Well said, I've often been thinking about how much is enough, and how fast we are being bombarded with the "newer and better". DH and I were discussing this very thing, laughing about the fact that we used to do our jobs without computers, fax machines, and cell phones, and work seemed a lot less stressful in many respects.

In many instances I think our age of progress has undermined our sense of community and changed how we connect with others and conduct ourselves. As you commented, people now say things in text messages or emails, that becuase of civility we would have never dreamed of saying even ten years ago. I especially miss the exchange of handwritten letters with friends. Receiving one of them was always such a special gift, because it told me that someone took the time to sit down and think about what I had written and what they wanted to share of their lives with me. I'm sorry to say that I've yet to receive an email that evokes the same joy and happiness.

While the internet is great when used with appropriate discretation, it has come a long way from being a "central location" where ideas and knowledge could be shared among everyone. In many respects it has been perverted and now we never know what we will stumble on during a Google search or even show up in our in-box.

I sometimes wonder if what we call progress is truly a step forward, and if it is what are we exactly stepping into.

By the way, as I'm leaving my two-cents worth, NOVA is doing a show about robots being developed for just not work, but to become our friends and companions in the future. No thanks, I'll stick with my dogs.

February 23, 2011 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Misha said...

All of you..... OFF THE COMPUTER!!! Just kidding :)
Love you Jenna!

February 23, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you for this. This may be one of the best things you've written in a while. This is a question I struggle with in my personal life, and your words rang home with me.

February 23, 2011 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger unpackingtreasure said...

Preach it,girlfriend.I'm in your camp.

February 23, 2011 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Robbie Grey said...

A balance must be found...

February 23, 2011 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Ms. Brenda said...

Jenna,
I think you're preaching to the choir here. But don't worry too much. I've worked in a public library since computers were few and didn't do very much. But my library is still busy and interest in book discussions is growing by leaps and bounds. I think we all still want that human touch sometimes.
This winter, my husband and I drove and hiked to see bald eagles, tried snowshoeing, and designed an afghan I'm crocheting to coordinate with our cat's stripes. Can't do any of that on computers.

February 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger Ms. Brenda said...

Jenna,
I forgot to mention that Chick Days is checked out at my suburban library and there are 2 other people in the area waiting to read it.

February 23, 2011 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

It's interesting you should write this. At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Arts and Crafts movement was coalesced as a reaction to the Industrial Age. Beautiful things came out of that movement, but progress in the industrial form was hard to stop.

I'm expecting more beautiful things from whatever this movement is that rails against technology, but I'm also expecting that its progress will also not be stopped.

Like anything else, it's balance, balance, balance.

February 23, 2011 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Preach it.

February 23, 2011 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger April said...

Love the blog, and this post! I just finished reading your book 'Chick Days' after getting our first chicks three weeks ago (pics of them on my blog, if you wish to see)! The book was fantastic! We just bought a home on 5 acres last year and love it. Thanks for the inspiration!

February 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM  
Blogger Jocele said...

Well said. You put words to something I've been thinking alot about lately. And with that, I need to get off this bloody laptop and go DO something, not just read about it.

February 23, 2011 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Rabbit said...

we are not going to step aside and be silent, be the controlled, we are going to continue on being the people we can be people with. From a greenhouse in the west, the same conversation was had just tonight. The love and dedication that you live and emote is alive, our hearts know it and our ears hear it, shouted from the rooftops, loud as the rooster calls. We are here and we are together.

February 24, 2011 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Personally, I new something was worng when I was sitting in a cubicle of a public toilet and the guy next door was taking dump and talking on his phone at the same time!
I'm afriad, as much as I empathise and sympathise with your comments, if people can not even stop themselves from using their phones whilst driving and risking totalling cyclists and pedestrians or other car drivers...I think we may well be a long way from any kind of universal concensus on the 'sensible' or moderated applications of technology! People are selfish and self centered, the 'society of the self' prevails too much...you might be waiting a long time to see change...or am I just an old cynic?

February 24, 2011 at 2:11 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Very well said and timely as I spent 8 hours making a online newsletter for our Quilt Guild! I think there are some balances, hand crafts are surging in popularity and $spent on them is on the rise. But we have to be the boss of our tools, not the other way around. If you cant turn off your email or phone for a few hours without thinking about it or obsessing about it then you have a problem. Its a habit like anything else. All the stress of feeling like everything is critical and must be dealt with right away is contributing to the rise in heart disease and hypertension. Take a breath and take a walk. The work and such will be there when you get back and your blood pressure will go down too. Pet your pet. Life is too short to be chained to a desk.
On the other hand I really appreciate the window to the world of other crafters and quilters my computer gives me but if I want to make something I have to turn it off!

February 24, 2011 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Interesting blog. I am ambivalent on this one. Technology has a lot to offer humanity. THe computer on Jeopardy is actually a lot more important than you give it credit for as it is real world proof of a concept. It is also the first time a computer has been able to match the human brain in terms of information processing. Yes they can calculate far better than we can, sometimes, but they have not yet been able to use that knowledge. Technology is neither inherently bad or good.

However, there is much that can and has been abused in technology. We don't need a new type of TV every 6 months or a pillow that plays music to you. Nor do kids shoes need to flash as they walk or a million other things.

But this isn't technology at fault. If people didn't buy the flashing shoes, if people didn't change their phone every six months, if people stopped and thought about what they need and only bought what was necessary then the spurious technology wouldn't exist.

The one thing that really gets me is where is all the free time that was supposed to come along with all this technology? Labour saving never really seemed to get going.

February 24, 2011 at 3:49 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

I hear you Jenna. For years I've been saying that kids today are too involved with virtual stuff and not reality. Now it's moved on to the adults in their lives. Let's get back to real, people.

February 24, 2011 at 4:57 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm not anti-technology. I just don't want to be drowning in it. I went off on a rant last night all right, but I used my blog to do it- which is why the first sentence is " I like technology"

I do have a beef with progress being confused with gadgets. I don't like the crappy balance that some kids have ereaders and others can't read.

As a web designer and writer I am constantly using technology, and i'm grateful for it. But I'm also overweight, anxious, and never away from it. I got interested in homesteading in the first place because my dependance on supermarkets and oil was scary. I am starting to notice the same freakish addiction to my iPhone, blog, and email...

Contrarian? Yes.

February 24, 2011 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

You sure made some sparks turn into flames with this one girl. I fully agree that technology is moving way to fast. I am a service manager for a copier company. I remember when a copier made copies and that was that, then it went to color, then it turned into your printer and now you can send & receive faxes, email, scan and Lord knows what they will do tomorrow. Sure makes our jobs more difficult to keep it all working. I am with you on wanting life to be simply and more human. Of course I also like the ability to communicate with you as I am doing right now and with other friends all over this world. I applaude your spunk and really love your ability to write. You have a great gift for writing my friend. Thanks for todays message and have a wonderful weekend.
Odie

February 24, 2011 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

@Rick--

I think balance is the key here.

It's not that you have to "give something up." But taking a step back, deciding not to buy the next best thing when last year's model is good enough (or, heck, as I type this on my eight-year-old desktop, which I do intend to replace this year, but which also fits my needs perfectly.)

But then again, I live in rural Ohio where even 3G doesn't reach. I was on dial-up until two years ago.

February 24, 2011 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 24, 2011 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!

February 24, 2011 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

You go girl!

February 24, 2011 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

We can have both. I do. So do you. You're obviously surrounded by people who have lost sight of reality (and I'm not exaggerating!) As others have said, balance. I have a cell phone, but not a smart phone. I have a tv, but not cable. I have the internet, but a slow DSL connection.

As your generation of young tech addicts grow up, they will put technology into its proper place (for the most part). Then the next generation will invent something even more addicting, and you will feel like you're on the outside, shaking your head in disapproval--and you'll like it! :-)

February 24, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I very much enjoy your blog.

Tools are neither good or evil, just on how they are used. The fact that we are discussing this topic from all parts of the country is pretty amazing and great way to foster empathy for different paradigms. Without technology Cold Antler community would would not exist outside of your city community, but now hundreds can vicariously know what it is like to butcher a pig, raise chickens and live a kind of life that a lot of people want.

But I too had to dust of my old copy of Walden, because I had to recalibrate my thoughts and what is important.

I think it is Felicia who said it best with her posting.

February 24, 2011 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Does it blow anyone else's mind that they actually have to have billboards & commercials that tell kids to go out and play?? I'm lucky in that my boys prefer to be outside with bikes/skateboards/basketballs more than videogames. Sure they're inside more often these days but they still go out daily. Technology is great in that the paper I work for could still be put together during a recent blizzard that had most of us snowed in, but like someone else said, tech can't knit. It can't putter in the greenhouse. It won't cuddle a chicken but it can help you figure out what's wrong with that chicken. Balance people, balance.

February 24, 2011 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Fiona said...

Brilliant post, as always.
What concerns me is that kids are growing up in this gadget-obsessed world. I'd say most of your readership, aka the converted choir, remembers the time before technology & gadgets were ubiquitous. Kids don't have that frame of reference. I just wrote a blog post about this -- how kids under the age of 10 spend way too much time with their faces zoning out on gadgets, that they're losing the ability to think, create, interact... even marvel at the world around us. Adults can make the decision to use or discard gadgets -- too many kids don't know there is a decision to be made.

February 24, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

If you think you've seen incredible changes in your 28 years think about what I've seen in 65. In 1963, when I was a junior at HFCS, one of the teachers said we would see computers in every home in our lives. At that time, computers were at least as big as your hen house and now we have iPods etc. We are captives of the technology and I don't see it reversing. We will soon, in probably less than 10 years, see the demise of the USPS. All mail will be email and almost all banking will be done electronically. A lot of people are signed on to this already to it won't be a major leap. This prediction was given to me by an employee of USPS.
Remember, robots can only utilize what humans already know and have programmed into them. They don't think. My neighbors have a robot that vacuums their house. Gotta love that one.
Of course, if oil becomes a memory, we will be in uncharted waters and very well could slip back to some more primitive times.

February 24, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Rock it out, Jenna!!!!

February 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Amen, Sistah! Other's have commented that we don't love it, but who's willing to give it up? Well, we solve that problem by never letting it in the first place. I have a pay as you go cell phone for emergencies, but I don't ever turn it on unless I need to use it. We don't have a Wii or Nintendo or any DS's for our kids, and won't. The poor things aren't allowed their own cell phones (and believe me, there are first graders out there who have them), and when we have playdates we play. Outside. Or board games, not video games. No individual dvd players for them in the car, looking out the windows is much more beneficial, seeing the world around them. It's all in what you allow into your lives for technology.

I will admit that I don't even know how to text on my phone...but that's because I don't want to, not because I can't figure out how. It's by choice. Basically our rule of thumb is this...if it's detracting from our lives or time spent together, we just don't allow it. Technology is a choice. Before I invest in any new technology I ask myself...Does it offer me something to improve the quality of my life. If not, I just don't do it.

A topic I'm very passionate about, and one more young people should be educated about. Choice is a beautiful thing.

February 24, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

an approriate short by mr assimov.
one ofhttp://www.themathlab.com/writings/short%20stories/feeling.htm my favorites

February 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

There is a very cool, somewhat controversial school in England called Summerhill. The kids make the rules and one of their rules is a period of screen free time each afternoon. Some people really do love their virtual world better but I think most of us find a way to achieve balance. Moderation as always.

February 24, 2011 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

technology can hurt but more importantly technology can and does heal, it a wonderful tool that daily breathes life in those gasping for breath.

without technology id personally not have the time to persue my interests and hobbies. im grateful on a daily basis for the advancements available to me that give me the options to live rather than just survive. i love having the ability to make my own laundry detergent while stuffing my clothes in a machine to accomplish a manual and time intensive task so i have the option to go outside, walk the dogs, and enjoy the environment and people around me.

because i work a 9-5 in a technological field i have decided not to have internet or cable within my home. i don't have a microwave or tv and i use my dishwasher as storage for canning supplies. i set my oven as my alarm to avoid technology creeping into my bedroom. the only light i fall asleep to is that of the moon or stars and a little red dot of a smoke detector.

what is wonderful about our current society and the technological advancements available to us is the ability to determine what balance fits best within our personal lifestyles, needs, and interests.

i firmly believe greed and egocentrism is the downfall of our society and many use technology as a means to that end. thankfully in our neck of the woods (i can only speak for the USA) we have the choice to use it as little or as much as we want.

i understand your point, but think technology is used as a scapegoat for many of the downfalls of our current society, such as childhood obesity. i don't know anyone who is overweight because of technology. peoples choices determine what weight they are(with the exception of children whose parents are ultimately responsible and those with medical conditions).

i often wonder if children and people absorb themsevles in technology because they don't know how appealing the natural world is? sometimes all it takes is a spark to fuel that fire.

February 24, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

I was just having this conversation with my husband, with a slightly different twist ( we're not sheep farmers ). I whole-heartedly agree with you. Its almost like humans are being groomed to the point ( and I know its a bad analogy, but we have a kid.. ) like in the movie Wall-E. I know I'm going to fight and NOT end up like that! I embrace all the struggles of having a little land and little beating hearts to take care of out in the barn. Its not easy. Most day's it will wear you out, but when you sit back and look around it is all worth it. Thank you for voicing this!

February 24, 2011 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger DustySE said...

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February 24, 2011 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger DustySE said...

Have you read "I am not a gadget"? Interesting book by a VR pioneer that relates to your post - though his tack is more that it's the *kind* of technology that's a problem. (After all, even a simple hoe is technology!)

Thanks for posting, this was interesting.

February 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

The problem isn't technology per se, it's rampant consumerism driven by 24/7 in-your-face advertising to a public obsessed with impressing people they don't know with a lot of stuff they can't afford. Most people have no need for any of it beyond the basics. It'll end when resources dwindle to the point where it will just cost too much to make all this crap anymore. (That is, if we survive that long in our destabilizing climate.)

February 24, 2011 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

As if on cue, here is a great parody - http://thechive.com/2011/02/23/ibms-watson-supercomputer-auditions-on-american-idol-video/

February 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

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February 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

This was a very interesting post. I, too, have often thought about (and questioned some of the benefits of) our culture's growing reliance and obsession with technology. There is nothing more irritating to me than seeing people glued to their iPhones when eating dinner with friends, or small children playing video or computer games for hours on end. We are a culture wherein our means of communication (and our access to copious amounts of knowledge) has skyrocketed. I will never say that much good has not come from technology - because, without a doubt, hands down, much good has come from it. Are televisions bad? Are computers? Or fancy phones? Not in the least. However, it is our obsession with these things that startles me. I recently read an article about the fact that Facebook use can be addictive - and this didn't surprise me. I know many people (myself sometimes included!) who spend WAY too much time on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace, at the expense of doing something more valuable with their time. I would likely be appalled by all of the hours I myself have spent idly surfing the net (with no real purpose!)
Moderation is key. The problem is, most people don't know how to use technology in moderation - they're practically dependent on it (think of the last time you couldn't find your cell phone!)
Again, technology is good. Abuse of it is bad - sometimes very bad. I think Jenna is wise in pointing out this dilemma our modern world faces. When is enough, enough? And at what cost? And are we in some ways losing bits and traces of our own humanity when our deepest conversations take place on a computer screen? Thank you, Jenna, for approaching this topic with your usual gusto!

February 24, 2011 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

AMEN!!!

February 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger CLC said...

Wow Jenna!! This is a great post. I will be sure to have as many people as I can read it today.

February 24, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Jenna, I appreciate your soap box and I get it.

How do you balance life and technology? I love to talk with my 91 year old grandmother... let me tell you how things have changed in HER life time! Amazing!!!

But I resent my cellphone, caved into fb, and I am addicted to my computer. On the other hand I don't have cable, a cellphone with a camera, twitter, or a dishwasher. Am I happy with all my choices?!? No. Do we always need to re-look at life?!? Yes.

Hurray for soap boxes! And the wonder of our soap box... our opinions can always shift and change. Bravo to that.

February 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

First off, I totally agree that technology, while not inherently bad, seems to be making very many people less capable, lazier, less inclined to work things out on their own. How many people can't (or soon won't be able to) spell or use good grammar thanks to texting? I know adults who rely so heavily on their GPS device that they literally have NO idea how to get anywhere on their own. Driver-assist features on new vehicles REALLY scare me. Seriously, we really don't need our cars to tell us when we're about to back into something - we need to learn better driving skills and pay more attention. What bugs me most, I think, is that so many people prefer to rely on devices and genuinely don't WANT to know how to do things for themselves. I find that very distressing. Also, I think Kathy P nailed the other aspect of this - the endless creation of more things we feel compelled to buy.

@Rick - me! We have electricity in our home that's primarily used for lights, cooking, refrigeration and A/C (we live in Texas). We heat with wood. We have high speed internet because we work from home, but if we didn't, we likely wouldn't. I don't have an mp3 player, an e-reader or a GPS. My phone is just a phone. I opted out on cable TV, electric can openers, bread machines, garbage disposals and a host of other things. We use a dishwasher largely because we have to sanitize milking equipment, and I'd rather use hot water than bleach. I'd rather speak to someone than text them. Point is, I'm not ANTI-technology either. I just prefer to look at it with a discerning eye and gauge whether it will truly assist me, or whether it just falls into the "oooh, shiny..." category. If something starts to make me lazy, it's OUT.

February 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Siberian said...

I have been trying to convey this exact same message to my friends for the last year, and it feels good to know I am not the only one in your age bracket that feels this way.

As with just about everything in life, it's all about balance, and you really seem to understand the benefits of technology while also acknowledging its limitations and how to feel at least somewhat independent of it.

Great post.

February 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Oxray Farm said...

I just love you, and that's all their is to it!

<3

February 24, 2011 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Hi Jenna - I've been quietly reading your blog for a while and enjoying it a lot.

I just had a good laugh remembering the first lamb we delivered. Three new shepherds, one in the lambing pen, two standing just outside the pen with reference books. The lamb was fine. I still grab the reference book when the moms need my help. I think an i-phone app would be brilliant, as long as you didn't drop it in the bucket of hot water. Doesn't do the books much good either.

Take care, and have fun!

February 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

AWESOME post! I love reading your stuff

February 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Harmony said...

Amen! There are days where I get tired of my phone and leave it at home because most likely I won't get an emergency call or text. It's not the end of the world when a text is not answered right away but some people sure do act like it is! I'm in college currently but when I go home I help feed the animals and clean out the chicken pen and I enjoy it! The labor it involves and the way the chickens seem to enjoy their fresh bedding makes me feel useful. When I sit in front of a computer screen for more than an hour just browsing the net I feel lazy and I have to go outside to counteract that feeling. It's good to see that many people feel the same way and still enjoy life as it's meant to be!

-Harmony

February 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Preach on, sister! Technology is a double-edged sword. I adore it, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I unplug outside of work. I don't have a smartphone. My vehicle is the "non-technology" version. My shelves are full of books. I have a nice writing pen, stationery and stamps in my home office. Nothing soothes my soul more than stitching away on my 1950 Singer Featherweight while I listen to the birds sing outside my sewing room. Email is convenient, but I still prefer to converse via telephone or F2F whenever possible.

February 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

I read this post to my husband 'cause I knew he'd agree. He said, "She's 28 years old and she understands."

February 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Well said Jenna, thanks for chiming in.

I work at a year round summer camp and outdoor education center. I get to take kids out into the woods on horse back and gently immerse them in the nature.

While we're out there, I'm sometimes amazed at the questions they have and the conversations we have together. The "head's down generation" don't seem to have an outlet for their ideas and experiences.

February 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Great post Jenna ! I couldn't agree more with what you said. I have also read "Better Off- Flipping the Switch on Technology" that Dawn mentioned earlier on in these comments. It was written by Eric Brende and is a great book - I read it in 2 nights.

February 24, 2011 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Laura Mikulski said...

It sounds weird, but you might want to read 'Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. "The Unabomber"'.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1932595805

Obviously homeboy took it WAY too far, but he clearly defines the risks and repercussions associated with our increasing dependence on technology. It's an interesting read.

February 24, 2011 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger lmel said...

Well said, but please don't lump the library into "not needed" category--I work at one! And so many libraries are fighting for their budgets just to stay viable in the community. The irony is that many people need the library just to access the many gadgets they want: internet, e-books, download audio books, wireless connection...the list goes on. And with the bad economy, we are more valuable now than ever.

February 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

I am very much enjoying all of your input, I felt very alone in my thoughts that were like Jenna's...I love that things make my life easier, giving me more time...but a couple months ago my grown children were all sitting around our table in the kitchen. there were three adults in the room and they were all texting other people, or commenting to others on FB. I found it really sad that no one in the room was really interacting with each other, even though we were "visiting" And limiting my 15 yr. olds game time has been like pulling teeth, and I am not the popular mama that actually enforces it! :) Maybe someday he will thank me, but not today :) Thank you all for helping me know I am not alone in my dream of something more peaceful. Don't even get me started on watching drivers on the interstate texting........grrrrr!

February 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Amen, sing it sistah! All things in moderation.

February 24, 2011 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Going to have to read this one over and over again...and then get the hell off the computer and go do something productive :)

February 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

Someone's been reading Eric Brende. :o) But seriously, I have to say that each of us must find our own comfort level with technology. We are constantly faced with the new, and must make our own decisions as to whether that new is better, or just new.

February 24, 2011 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

I agree. It's nothing I haven't said before myself. I think that those of us who do this type of work (farming) all feel the same, in a way. That's why we farm--there's a connection there. A connection to the land, a connection to the animals, a connection to others. I would like to see more of us do it. That would be an "innovation" worth talking about.

February 24, 2011 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I think you look very cute in your jeans, headscarf, and holding that brown sheep!

February 24, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger RLFaller said...

Thank God someone's said it! I concur whole heartedly.

(long time reader, first time commenter)

February 24, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

On some level I feel you may be preaching to the choir...but maybe I'm misled. most weekends I do not check my email, often do not text and while on vacation with my wife the cell is turned off (unless we need to check-in briefly). I feel truly refreshed!!

February 25, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

We do have a lot of technology, but the problem seems to be how much people are getting addicted to it. I served on a jury last year. On breaks, jurors rushed back to the break room to get their cell phones like people used to rush to get a cigarette. You rarely see people now that aren't playing with their phones. That said, I love my computer and think my life without it would be pretty dismal. But I know it keeps me from doing creative stuff.
PS. Jenna, why do you use the dishwasher? Do you have that many dishes to wash? It would take me days to fill a dishwasher. Handwashing dishes only takes a few minutes.

February 25, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Beka said...

AMEN!

February 25, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

I know what you mean my family doesnt understand that I like to spin wool or make laundry soap they say, " you can just go buy it. why do you need to know how to make it?" They dont understand that its nice to take a step back and have time to take a few deep breaths and to be able to hear them without all of the racket from a bunch of machines. :-)

February 25, 2011 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Tarheelbilly said...

AMEN!!!!

February 25, 2011 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Tarheelbilly said...

AMEN!!!!

February 25, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

This is such a tricky subject for all of us farmers/bloggers. I don't think I can cut out my laptop or my cold frames. Trying to find a balance is something I have struggled with for a few years now.
I didn't even use a computer until I was in high school. Cell phones? Laptops?
I remember when we got our first microwave.
All these advances in such a short time. I think that people have gotten so used to inventing/developing/experiencing something new that they don't know how to stop.
When you mention something like a
4-D interactive video game or something like that, instead of being met with the response of "Yeah, right. That is crazy", you hear "Oh, when is that coming out?"
Kind of sad.

February 27, 2011 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Open said...

Hey don't be knocking on HTML 5.

We are of peace . . . always

February 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Genevieve said...

Everything you said! Its exactly how I feel, I'm 15 years old, grew up in your average suburb and my mom was a computer addict and I /hated/ the internet and didn't understand it, when all I wanted to do was play wall ball with my mom. Yet when I was 10-13 I was the same way because I had given up on ever going camping with my mom without being interrupted by a cellphone or a computer email. But thankfully I've come out of it and even though my family are still computer people, I have my own chickens, coop, and vegetable/herb garden; and pretty soon I'm going to be teaching kids how to garden and raise chicks as well. :)

March 2, 2011 at 12:21 AM  

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