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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Simple Life...

People want simplicity, but almost always choose complexity.

You ask how I know people long for simplicity? It's simple. I've heard people say it no less than ten times in the last several days. What with all the spam, dump-truck loads of ideas, multi-tasking applications connected to network devices that sync up with storage clouds that merge with blogs and facebook and google+ and twitter and pinterest and blah, blah, blah.

It makes you long for the days of cords that were attached to phones attached to walls that were attached to houses that served as someones home. Now everything is cordless, which is great and all, but don't cry the blues when you don't feel any attachment. As goes the cord, so goes the attachment.

We live in a wireless society with remote offices. Translated: A phone and a car. Cheaper, yes. But when you're feeling alone, please understand that comes with the territory when you choose to go "remote". And when you're enjoying the benefit of less overhead, don't be surprised if you're starting to feel like there's something "cheaper" about the quality of your life. Our lust for de-centralized models to save cost and hassle has led us to the slaughterhouse of isolation. So we have more wealth, but less richness. Hmmm.

There are days when I want to hoist all the connectivity and accessibility right out the window and go back to the days of simplicity. The days when you had to walk to someone's house to use their phone when you ran out of gas. The days when you had to let someone know where you were going before you left because that would be your last point of contact. The days when you had to go to a library to find a primary source or read a book to find a quote. The days when you had three channels on network television with Matlock or Murder, She Wrote as your entertainment options. The days when boys at least had to work a little bit to find porn and girls still had sleep overs where they talked instead of texted. The days when family dinners weren't interrupted by buzzing/churping cell phones and parents weren't trying to close a deal with an open laptop while listening to their child read a book to them.

I remember when I listened to 570 WSYR on AM radio soaking in Yankee baseball games and Syracuse basketball like a brittle sponge. The static airwaves crackled like an old record. No HD, no six-lane bandwidth, no connection to what was happening on those distant courts or fields other than the frequency coming through that little radio sitting on the apple crate that served as my nightstand and clothes drawer. One connection. One medium. One.

Family nights consisted of board games, singing around the piano, reading books on our parents laps (we were their laptops opened up on their knee), wrestling matches in the living room, circus with dad on his back flipping us over his head while humming a little loop like you'd hear at a merry-go-round, playing catch out in the yard, or walking down by the lake. We couldn't go online, browse DVR'd shows, check Facebook, text, tweet, or play tidily-winks with the world wide web. It was just us, a few options and what we made of them.

It is not unusual to see a household all split into different rooms of the house each connected to some technological device taking them far away from where they are and putting them in touch with something and somewhere else in the world. One will be on the internet, strike that, one parent will be on the laptop while one of the kids will take the desktop, another child will be watching Phineas and Ferb episodes that have been TiVo'd and stockpiled for convenient consumption, another will be on their ipod listening to a recently downloaded song off of iTunes, another will be on their Nintendo DS while another is playing Wii in their bedroom which can also serve as a Netflicks conduit to the world of movies. Dad is out in the driveway pacing around on his cell phone since the service isn't real great in the house. Mom is on her iPhone scrolling through status updates and making sure she doesn't miss anything. This is the "Modern Family" and we're wondering why we're making passing comments about "wanting life to be more simple"?

I know this is the trail of a rabid rabbit at best, but do you see my point? We flippantly chatter something about being busy and longing for simplicity, but our lives leave no room for that longing to be realized. None whatsoever. If only just wanting simplicity is all it took. We'd be all set.

I know it's more than longing for the "good old days" which are more old than good truth be told. But there is something to the bare naked, stripped down, unplugged age of yesteryear that beckons us backward. I fear that if we don't do something "amish" about our scatterbrained lifestyles, our lives will get away from us. We will be robbed blind while sitting in our own home. We will be pick-pocketed and won't know it until we try to make our next transaction, but by that time, it'll be too late. Your credit cards are gone, your license is gone, your social security card is gone...there's no going back.

Maybe that's why some people hook a chain to their wallets. Maybe this is why some people keep their rotary phone. Maybe this is why people won't get a Facebook account. Maybe this is why some people won't cave in a get a cell phone.

And you know what? We hate these people for not keeping up with the times.

But I wonder if right underneath our anger at the inconvenience they cause by not climbing on the bandwagon, I wonder if we're kinda jealous of their joy. The joy that comes with not knowing what you don't know. I wonder if they are the ones who have the time, space and energy to have some life in their living.

Could it be that simple?

2 comments:

Leslie said...

Just yesterday, I found myself wondering if all of our complex lives littered with clutter and toys and gadgets isn't a huge part of the problem with our economy. We all have such big houses and so many cars and clothes and toys and cable and internet... what if we all just simplified? Think of the extra time/energy/money we would have.

Josh and I have downsized our living arrangement quite a bit to our new little one bedroom apartment and it is absolutely enough for us. I hope we remember and apply the lesson in simple living that our tiny apartment is teaching us for the rest of our lives.

I do, however, find myself coveting the complexities at times. For example... the iPhone 4s. I want it SO bad. I've been really trying to get to the bottom of exactly what need it will fulfill for me and why I feel like I HAVE to have it. (Those sly foxes at Apple sure know how to market their stuff, eh?)

Anyway, just thought I'd share a couple of thoughts. I'm liking the new layout of your blog!

Anna said...

I love my simple life. No tv, no netflix, no smart phone. People are appalled when I say I don't have a TV, they say "what do you DO?" and then they're generally fairly embarrassed when I say "I hang out with my husband, I read books, I exercise, I make all my food from scratch, I spend time outdoors"

I love simplicity, and I LOVE being disconnected from the world. I always leave my phone on silent, and check it a few times a day. We frequently leave our phones at home, especially on date night. There's no need for 24/7 connections, humans lived perfectly well for thousands of years without it! :)