Monday, May 30, 2011

Wendell Berry and Computers

My husband's favorite author is Wendell Berry.  Periodically, he will ask me to read an excerpt from one of his books or an essay.  On Saturday, he asked me to read this essay:  The essay is titled "Why I am NOT going to buy a Computer".  

Though you may disagree with his decision to not buy a computer, his 9 standards of whether or not to purchase a technological innovation are worthy of contemplation.  My favorite is number 9.  I think the computer and social networking often hinder our relationships and our ability to be present mind, soul, and body with the ones around us.  We can be so distracted by what we may (or may not be) missing on the world wide web that we don't pay attention to what's right in front of us.  I often mention the book Distracted and the ideas that Maggie Jackson articulated which I'd already been feeling about how distracted we are because of all of the technology in our lives.

My husband and I have been discussing this essay for the past two days.  So, this morning I began a chart.  Here it is:  

Lower Tech                                                   Higher Tech
Prepaid, simple cell phone                              Blackberry
Phone call                                                    Text message
Desktop computer                                         iPad
Books                                                          Kindle/Nook
CDs                                                             iPod
Books on CD                                                 Car DVD player
Videos                                                         Cable TV
Cable (which we've discontinued)                     Apple TV
Clover--Let it go                                          Trugreen, or similar lawn service
Small house                                                  Big house/lots of space
Board games                                                 Video Games
Walking/Running/Hiking                                  Gym membership

I want to seek to choose the Lower Tech way as much as possible.  I want to choose to be physical and engaged with people.  I want to use less electricity and more of my brain.  I have felt a growing emptiness inside over the past year and I feel that it is due to a growing desire in my heart to escape what makes me upset.  I run to the computer to do that.  I don't think turning off the computer entirely is the answer.  The problem is my heart and where I place my own worth and what I value.  I need to accept the struggles in life and trust God with my weariness.  

Each item on this list is something that matters to me.  My husband and I are such intentional people that each item has been consciously chosen over the years.  

We went to the prepaid cell phones to cut down on a bill.  

I don't carry a cell phone, so texting has never become a part of my life.  

I don't want to be connected to the internet wherever I go via an iPad.  

I love the feel of books in my hands and the ability to write with a pencil in them.  I love to pick them up and set them down.  

We try to minimize how much our children watch on tv, so a DVD player in the car would be contrary to that goal.  I know from many friends that they love them, but we would rather have them choose to talk to each other, listen to a book on tape, or read.

We decided to get rid of our cable 2 months ago when the montly fee went up.  I haven't regretted the decision.  On Friday, my husband impulsively wanted to purchase an Apple TV device.  I said okay, but with misgivings.  I was very thankful when he came home without it and we were able to talk about it.  We both agreed it isn't something we want to bring into our home.  

We live in an area where many people live in big houses.  We live in the part of the county that many people look down on.  I need to not worry about how they see the area I live in.  I know that it is what God has provided for us and it is easy to lose sight of the huge blessing that it is!  Truly I am thankful for our home, but I get caught like everyone else comparing my life to others.  Yet, those comparisons are never fair or true.  

My husband is about to discontinue his gym membership.  His preference is to get outside and run rather than to drive (and use gas) to go to a gym and run on a treadmill (and use more electricity).

Speaking of which ...1 minute pause to put my son's shoes on him...  I need to go be present with my family.  I hope you enjoy Berry's essay if you get a chance to read it!

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