Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth Book Review {Chapter Two}

Please join us, as we read Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth.  You can read my review of Chapter One, here and also read the equally compelling comments from fellow readers.

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I knew this chapter would hit home and be the most interesting and convicting, of all her chapters, for me.
I struggled with my use of technology for almost five years.  It's only within the last 6 months that I have gained control and see great merit in Sleeths arguments.

It's hard to talk about social media and technology because it doesn't matter what you say, someone is going to take it personally and react as though you are making a personal indictment on their usage.  Allow me to state that when I share, I'm sharing about my own experience.  I'm not you and only you can truly evaluate your experience with social media, video games, Twitter, FaceBook, cell phone texting and the like.  Sure my experiences are sprinkled with things I see and share with others but I'm not the expert.  Merely a person who has watched the changing trends of online technology, over the past five years.

Honestly, after this chapter, I just wanted to sigh because once again, I have no answer.

I don't even know if I have anything of merit to share with you.
I've been blogging for over five years of my life.
I've never been a parent without blogging.
I've opened and closed a FaceBook account.
I've opened and closed a Twitter account.
I have a Pinterest and Instagram account.
I text.
I email.
I talk on the phone.

After doing all these things, I really feel that technology does steal something from people.  Whether we willingly admit it or not, I believe an educated person would have to acknowledge this.  The time it takes to engage in the many social outlets alone, is immense. Privacy is at a premium. Children are more addicted then ever before.  Communication without a technological device has almost evaporated.  Kids are dependent on the television, iPads and internet games.
There has been a price to pay, for the benefits of technology, I believe.

I was on a Twitter page the other day, finding a link.  I saw, on the users profile, that she had tweeted some 14,000 times.  Truth be told, that's not even considered a lot, in the life of a "tweeter".  People who defend their Twitter often explain that "it doesn't take any time at all to send 140 characters!", but think about it.  If each tweet takes only 30 seconds, that Twitter user had already spent 7,000 minutes of their life!  That's almost 5 full days!

We could really make this argument for any form or technology. I've heard people that say they have "no time" for a blog, but they spend plenty of time on FaceBook or surfing the web aimlessly.  Some people prefer browsing and commenting on other peoples posts.  Some enjoy Instagram.  Some text, all day, every day.  Some shop Etsy, like it's their job. Some PIN until their eyes bleed {guilty}.

No matter what the technological vice, we must all take stock in where we fall on the technology spectrum.

For myself, I had to evaluate how technology made me feel. About everything.
About 5 months ago I had to make hard choices.  I cancelled my FaceBook, shut down my Twitter and stopped blogging, at my online home and made the difficult choice of not hosting a fourth conference.  I had a good size following on each and several other online guru's said that it was "blogging suicide" and I believed them.  It was hard to cut off things that aren't "bad" and that I watched other people use.  I almost felt like a child who was on a "time out" for bad behavior.  I was watching other adults be able to safely use technology {my assumption}, but I had to learn that I, as the human being God created, am not capable of exercising self control {at that point in my life}. Perhaps I'm making myself sound like a online glutton and I wasn't necessarily out of control, but I felt like it had a strong hold on me.  Does that make sense?  It held too much of my attention.  It held a piece of me.
I had to say goodbye to things and some people didn't understand.  I'm sure they still don't.  Some people gave/give me a hard time.
But that's ok.
I couldn't be a slave.

I had to step back and realize that technology was using me and I wasn't using it. 

My favorite quote of Sleeths, in this chapter, was the following:

"We love the allure of convenience; we hate the tyranny of a digital dependency."

Isn't that the truth?

With all technology, I appreciate what it provides me but never want to be a owned by it and that is what I see, in our culture {and what I saw, in myself, about 6 months ago}. Yet, I think so few people would admit they are or take the steps to change.  Look how long it took me to admit it!
With some people I know, I expect them to have their cell phone out, while we are enjoying a meal, and they are emailing or checking their Twitter stream.  I know to expect, with some people, that I will get texts from them and nary a phone call.  And even still, I know that with some people I truly have been the last in line to find out important "happenings" because I'm not on FaceBook or Twitter.
These things annoy me and make me sad.  They make me sad that communication has changed so drastically and they make me sad because I DID THEM.

It's the new normal for our society and it's hard to go backward, which is what I've done and what I am am journeying towards, daily.  I was there.  I lived there and I was all about it.
But, for some reason, I'm somewhat scared of it now.

Perhaps it's because I don't want my children to be dependent on it {hello-is anyone else totally against 10 year olds having iPhones?!  It's everywhere!}. I thought Sleeth was right on in her assessment of technological detriments, on kids. Just because the other 5th grader has a cell phone doesn't mean your kid needs one!  Just because the other 5 year old is allowed to watch iCarly does NOT mean your daughter needs to have that same privilege.  We have pulled back on technology, in regards to our children. I've also pulled back on my use of technology, in front of my children.  It's a choice.  It's all a choice.

Or perhaps it's because I am sensitive and the constant feed of information ways heavy on my soul.  When I hear hundreds of sound bytes from cable news, read opinion posts on everything from parenting, fashion and the demise of government and am privy to hundreds of images about peoples life, it's so hard to hear my own thoughts.  Weed through my opinions. Decipher.
Or Perhaps I feel like nothing is sacred anymore.  Everything is shared. Good, bad, ugly.
Or perhaps I just want to talk to people in person.  I want to sit down and actually TALK to someone, over coffee.  I want to hear their voice, see their eyes well with tears and take time.  

Because of the emergence and excitement of the immediate, I feel like we don't take time anymore.  Time for talking, getting to know each other and sitting, in once place, for over 4 minutes.
Because the phone rings.
The cell phone buzzes.
We have to update something.
Download an app for our kids.
And so on.

Who knows.

Like I said, I don't have many answers, all I have is the tugging in my heart that something is "off" in our generation, as it relates to technology.
Sure it has it's benefits, as does almost everything.
But I feel like we accept the benefits and want to ignore the pitfalls.

In the end, I want to use technology for good and in the right way. A way that the Lord would be pleased with.  I suppose we each have to evaluate our use, in that light.

What would the Lord be pleased with?
Is our FaceBook use for Gods glory?
What about the web sites we visit?  Are those glorifying the Lord?  Bringing us closer to Him?
What about the things we tweet/send into cyber space?

Those questions are the only things that make sense to me because I can talk myself into just about anything.  When I use the Lord as my measuring stick, it changes the dialogue, in my mind and heart.

My gripe, with the second chapter:
Much like the first chapter {and more than likely, this will occur throughout the entire book}, I felt her personal examples were a bit aloof and grand.
I also didn't care for her use of scripture and specifically as it pertained to her reference of Proverbs 18:2 and blog posts/commenting being an example of this.  This actually wasn't because I'm a "blogger" and therefore I felt personally attacked.  Rather I feel that scripture could be used for literature and writing, on a whole, if that is her argument.  Isn't most all writing based on opinion, really? Isn't Almost Amish based on opinion?  I get the sense that Sleeth regards online work {such as blogging} as a lesser form of opinion/literary work.  This seems ironic to me, considering that her forward remarks were written by a blogger-at-large. 


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It's your turn.  Please share, so we can all learn and grow, together!

12 comments:

  1. I'm not real sure how if stayed on topic..but i posted about chapter two
    http://thebrewersblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/almost-amish-chapter-two.html

    I know this chapter really hit home with me on a few things..and some things in the Brewer house will definately be changed.

    As of now ..chapter one motivated me to organize my house! yay!

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  2. ok so i'm not reading the book but i find this subject quite interesting. since having the baby i've had to work harder at carving out time for my 'online pursuits' and really make a list of things i need to do once i do get online so I don't get distracted by link hopping. when it comes to my blogs & FB I have to be conscious about how much time i'm devoting to them and not paying attention to what is going on in my house. I've scaled back a bit in some ways and amped up in others - but by amping up I am only more intentional about what I am putting out there. not blogging for the sake of blogging but really putting out things that I feel compelled to write/share about whether its beauty, fashion or personal life.
    I do love my online media but when I see how my kid can't do a simple task because she's too busy playing 'fashion story' on her ipod I know I have to set a better example...it's a shame it has to come to this because technology is awesome but I don't ever want it to become the mainstay of our communication with others or the only way people know me.
    did any of that make any sense?? i haven't had coffee yet....

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  3. Once again, I have strayed far from the path … [http://wp.me/p2E1mM-T] … so, let me just say here that, for me, Sleeth's simple statement that "technology should serve as a tool, not rule as a master" is the key to the whole chapter.

    "No man can serve two masters." Not, "No man SHOULD serve two master," but, "No man CAN serve two masters."

    A hammer is a tool. It can be used to build a house or take a life. No one would advocate the outlawing of hammers because they can be used for nefarious purposes. (For the record, you can’t build a house with a gun. But I digress … ) And, even when using a hammer to build a house, one still needs to know how to use the tool properly or there is going to be a lot of banged-up fingers. So it is with Technology. We need to educate ourselves and our children on how not to bang-up their fingers.

    Oh, wait, hold on, the phone’s ringing …

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    1. "So it is with Technology. We need to educate ourselves and our children on how not to bang-up their fingers"

      YES totally agree! great example!

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  4. My book finally came in the mail :) I loved/hated this chapter. Loved it because it really spoke to me and hated it because it revealed my technology addiction. After reading this chapter I began to notice just how often I am "checking" and spending time on the computer, phone, tv, etc. I can continue to make excuses but instead I am choosing to make changes. I don't want my son to associate his mom with an iphone in her hand at all times. The quote that really kicked my butt was on page 29 "how can we hear the voice of God if we are multi-tasking non stop? How can we see the face of God in still waters and green pastures when we are chronically refreshing the screen? The digital generation is the distracted generation? BAM. Convicted & it hurts!!

    I want people (most importantly my family) to experience me as a person who is present and engaged in the moment!

    Loved the stuff she had to say about kids and technology. my son is only 1 so the battle has yet to start but my hubby and I are planning on being pretty strict about technology in the home. Not too much tv, no cell phones, we don't have cable, no tv in his room, lots of outside and creative time etc. I suppose I must lead by example which is the difficult part.

    I agree with you that her examples can seem a little "look how great I am" and I got that vibe from the first chapter also. I don't think she said it explicitly but I feel like it was inferred that social media is not an ideal form of connection. while I somewhat agree and do have lots of "real life" connections with friends I do see some amazing and meaningful connections I have made through blogging/facebook/instagram etc.

    Overall, I liked the chapter. Now I am just brainstorming how I can change based on what I've been convicted by :)

    ps. did I hear you say on insta that you will be at the craft cabinet on Friday?! If so, Ill see you there!

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    1. I highlighted (highlit?) the same passage:

      "How can we see the face of God … when we are chronically refreshing the screen?"

      Butt kicked!

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    2. Eeeeek! Mine too. That part KILLED me!

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  5. I just ordered the book. . .This chapter seems like it's close to home for me too.

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    1. Let me know what you think! It's a good kind of conviction {is there a bad kind, really?!}

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  6. i finally caught up. this chapter was so convicting. my boys (a preteen and a teen) are hooked on technology and if were being honest i am pretty hooked too.

    this sunday and every sunday to come we are going to observe the sabbath and disconnect from the internet. i love that idea. it's all about baby step right?

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  7. I caught up on chapter two yesterday, ironically, when all my technology was failing me - even my land line needed a digital reboot. About a year ago, our electricity went out across the entire city of San Diego. We were all in the dark for something like six or seven hours. We had to rearrange some plans, figure out how to make dinner without a stove or lights and figure out what to do with ourselves from when the sun set until bedtime. At first, we felt restless, but then we started to enjoy the quiet and the dark. It was one of my favorite nights ever. The radio was on in the background which gave us some fun as we played our own version of Mystery Science Theater since the radio DJs were sure the world was ending. On a few of our moves on either end, we didn't have internet connection set up and after I stopped panicking about being so disconnected from the world, I loved it.

    So, why, WHY do I go right back to it? This past year, I've been trying to find out ways to live without more and more technology. It's very difficult and I wonder why when I love the quiet so much.

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  8. So, yes. I am way behind on leaving a comment...
    I loved this and was ready to delete my Facebook account that very day. My hesitation was this. Since moving, we would be totally out of the loop on happening 'back home' if it weren't for Facebook. Part of me wants to say, "I don't really care, you can call me if you want me to know." and at the same time I totally understand the convenience of sharing with everyone at once. You mentioned sometimes being the last to know things, and that part makes me sad. So how have you worked through that? I still really want to delete my account, I think I just need to hear from someone who has and has 'lived through it' :)

    I have friends that haven't let their kids get a Facebook account until they graduated high school. I LOVED that. But hey, why not do away with it all together? I don't want that kind of distraction for my kids later on. Luckily, I have time to weed it out of mine before it becomes an issue.

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