Giving Up Technology's False Promise of Simplification

David Trammel's picture

Came across this article by Mark Boyle:

"My advice after a year without tech: rewild yourself"

Its very well written but two paragraphs stood out.

"I’m now more interested in keeping the best of the old ways alive, preserving a link from our ancient past – and its crafts, perspectives, stories – into our future, so that when the industrial apparatus collapses under the weight of its own junk, these long-serving ways can point us towards the back roads home. For, as a computer “quit screen” message once said, everything not saved will be lost. We would do well to heed it, lest we lose ourselves.

This way of life is often described as “the simple life”. Looking at it head-on, it’s far from simple. This life is actually quite complex, made up of a thousand small, simple things. By comparison, my old urban life was quite simple, made up of a thousand small, complex things. I found industrial life too simple, and thus repetitive and boring. With all of its apps, switches, electronic entertainment, power tools, websites, devices, comforts and conveniences, there was almost nothing left for me to do for myself, except that one thing that earned me the cash to buy my other needs and wants. So as Kirkpatrick Sale once wrote in Human Scale, my wish became “to complexify, not simplify”."


We've spoken here about the need to cut some of the clutter of our modern society from our lives and get back to a more simple way of doing things, but Boyle rightly points out, that its not the old ways that are simple, its the new ones.

As anyone here who has tried their hand at growing things in a garden or a container, getting plants to do what they do best, grow, can be a amazingly complex and difficult thing.

On the other hand, sitting in a park, with your mind buried in your phone on "un-social media" (I really like that term from the article) is one of the simplest things in the world. Ignoring all the complex things going on in that small slice of real life that is a park, doesn't take much effort. Engaging with Life does.


Note: I posted this under "Community and Whole Systems" because rethinking how you live your life, and how your community lives theirs, to me is an integral part of building that community.