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Thread: Ambivalence concerning technology

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Ambivalence concerning technology

    We have the Amish/Anabaptists/Mennonites and their strict policies concerning post 18th century technology..... Maybe some of you have seen 'Frontier House' on PBS where a number of modern families try to recreate frontier existence from the 1800's. Thoreau - back in 1843 decides to get away from it all and go live by himself in the woods for a couple of years - mind you, this at a time before: tv, radio, records, electicity, telephones, telegraphs, automobiles, rockets, computers.......you get the idea. We humans have historically had incredibly mixed feelings about technology. Implementing new technologies, in many ways seems almost the ultimate measure of a culture and humanity has been pouring its energies for the past centuries into creating ways to enable larger populations to exist, more effective communications, more powerful militaries, more sophisticated social systems, and increasing labor productivity. We spend centuries devising methods and machinery to allow our species devote more time to our leisure and less to our subsistence. Why does a contrary force always seem to exist in opposing this movement? What motives compel people to want to spend more time in subsistence-related activities? There may be some very good reasons, but I'm curious what's the Throbbing Brain's take on it?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    There's a downside to pretty much any technological advancement. Greater efficiency = less need for labor. Greater personal mobility = more sprawl and alienation. Even a unarguable benefit like a cure for a disease leads to more population pressure.

    There are always people who get the raw end of the deal - old timers who have invested years into the old way of doing things. Technology is also just plain scary to people because it opens up a whole set of unknowns. What would the future be like with human cloning? But we press on because there is money to be made, diseases to cure, and a nation to defend, and we don't want some other country to develop all the technology first (although Japan usually does).

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    My recent dealings with Mennonites has taught me a bit about this. For them, and the Amish, they feel that by embracing a simple life (they even refer to themselves as "simple folk" vs their denomination sometimes) is a way to embrace and live as was intended by G*d. The lack of technology in their lives gives them time to reflect and work in a manner and at tasks that they know is honest and sincere and therefore follows his ways.

    Don't forget the saying "Idle hands do the devil's work" in thinking about this.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    My recent dealings with Mennonites has taught me a bit about this. For them, and the Amish, they feel that by embracing a simple life (they even refer to themselves as "simple folk" vs their denomination sometimes) is a way to embrace and live as was intended by G*d. The lack of technology in their lives gives them time to reflect and work in a manner and at tasks that they know is honest and sincere and therefore follows his ways.

    Don't forget the saying "Idle hands do the devil's work" in thinking about this.
    If you haven't try and rent the movie "Devil's Playground" its a documentary about how Amish teens go through a period of free-living where they get to run wild and then decide whether to embrace the faith. Lots of ecstacy dealing, sex and drinking just like any other wayward rural teens. It shows how hard it is to keep young people interested in the way of life when the Amish are a lot less isolated then before.

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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    My recent dealings with Mennonites has taught me a bit about this. For them, and the Amish, they feel that by embracing a simple life (they even refer to themselves as "simple folk" vs their denomination sometimes) is a way to embrace and live as was intended by G*d. The lack of technology in their lives gives them time to reflect and work in a manner and at tasks that they know is honest and sincere and therefore follows his ways.

    Don't forget the saying "Idle hands do the devil's work" in thinking about this.
    Admirable all. But, one could easily argue that the only peoples that really live how "God" (or Evolution) intended are the hunter-and-gatherer cultures like the Australian Aborigines. Some posit that the big mistake was not some arbitrary period in the 18th century, but when humanity settled down and began extensive agriculture. Social stratification, mind-numbing and dispiriting labor, ecological destruction at human hands, overpopulation-all can be traced to the agricultural revolution. Even the concept of "labor" as intrinsically valuable in itself would be alien to the "real" simple folk like the !Kung.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    My recent dealings with Mennonites has taught me a bit about this. For them, and the Amish, they feel that by embracing a simple life (they even refer to themselves as "simple folk" vs their denomination sometimes) is a way to embrace and live as was intended by G*d. The lack of technology in their lives gives them time to reflect and work in a manner and at tasks that they know is honest and sincere and therefore follows his ways.

    Don't forget the saying "Idle hands do the devil's work" in thinking about this.
    They're right, you know.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Admirable all. But, one could easily argue that the only peoples that really live how "God" (or Evolution) intended are the hunter-and-gatherer cultures like the Australian Aborigines. Some posit that the big mistake was not some arbitrary period in the 18th century, but when humanity settled down and began extensive agriculture. Social stratification, mind-numbing and dispiriting labor, ecological destruction at human hands, overpopulation-all can be traced to the agricultural revolution. Even the concept of "labor" as intrinsically valuable in itself would be alien to the "real" simple folk like the !Kung.
    And the Amish would also conclude that folks like the !Kung (who actually spend less time in subsistence-related activities than 40hr/week office denizens like ourselves) are going straight to H-E-double hockey sticks! When I was writing the original post in this thread I debated about whether I should use the introduction of agriculture as a technology cutoff point or the industrial revolution - I ended up leaving a nebulous "we spend centuries devising methods and machinery....".
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    This may be inappropriate (mods delete if so) but that is why I find the concept of God in Christian fundamentalism so appalling.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I have no real problem with technological advances - their good.

    What I don't like - is band-wagoning people do whenever a new technology is introduced. The most recent example was the intro of DVDs and their associated players. Many people jumped right on that one right away without awaiting to see it age a bit. I waited to get a DVD player when DVD/VHS combo players became available. That way I didn't have to totally abandon one technology investments just get access the next one.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    This may be inappropriate (mods delete if so) but that is why I find the concept of God in Christian fundamentalism so appalling.
    I kinda wish we had a christian fundamentalist foil around here. It might be helpful to air some ideas. Any volunteers?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  11. #11
    I'm not the local fundamentalist. I am the resident Luddite. Every solstice I have the uncontrollable urge to stack very large boulders atop one another and dance&chant in the moonlight.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    I'm not the local fundamentalist. I am the resident Luddite. Every solstice I have the uncontrollable urge to stack very large boulders atop one another and dance&chant in the moonlight.
    Did you consider The Wicker Man a fairy tale with a positve ending?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070917/

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I don't know about Mennonites in your area, but here in Montana they are about half simple. They have modern farm equipment and reefers to haul their produce to farmers markets. And you should see the mayhem when they hit the discount stores. The kids have the toys out of the packaging and are playing with them in the aisles. The men are scoping out power tools and checking out the new sneakers. The women seem to be the only ones who show a little decorum.

    Of course their simpler lifestyle helps make their communal farms very successful, which causes some resentment among some of the local farmers and ranchers. Also they have practically a corner on the organic food market. When the local health food store's Thanksgiving turkeys were rotten, the Mennonites cleaned up with their turkey sales.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Did you consider The Wicker Man a fairy tale with a positve ending?
    Those fundamentalist pagan/druid/animist types. As bad as the Amish....
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    I don't know about Mennonites in your area, but here in Montana they are about half simple.
    We have multiple groups, each with their own set of beliefs towards and about technology.

    one set is what everyone thinks about, nothing but maybe the odd rubber tired buggy and a tractor from the 30's on steel wheels. These are teh people I helped put teh barn up with. The few chainsaws that where present were probably a concession to someone, and they were really old.

    The other set we have, it just looks like their cars all died one day and they decided not to replace them. One of the houses I was in had a brand new full commercial quality stainless steel kitchen set. They have electricity and computers to do their books. just no cars, TV's, radio's.

    Then there is a group someplace between these twe sets.

    I figure the more modern set is only a few years away from driving black cars with painted chrome.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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