Amazon When our fathers wanted to hear bad music, they either had to make it themselves or go to the place where it was being made; when they wished to smoke a cigar, they had to light a match. Today we sit in our armchairs and merely press buttons. What a manifest sign of our superiority! Millions of us now get sadistic pleasure from watching some dingbat heiress ineptly perform manual labor on a farm. Better Off is marketed as a quasi-scientific study out to prove that most modern "timesaving" technology is frivolous, and often leads to more inconvenience and less efficiency.
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Louis, MO. The community the Brendes joined was populated by families who lived without electricity and traveled by horse and buggy.
The couple stayed for eighteen months, learning to farm and accomplish the various chores necessary to survive.
They also discovered that rather than living a life of drudgery, they experienced the satisfaction of being part of a group, the members of which supported and worked with each other. As Brende told National Catholic Reporter contributor Rich Heffern that "in the end it saved time because you achieved so many things at once: the work, the exercise, the rich rewards of building community and friendships.
The satisfactions so laborious to obtain in the technological society —bodily exercise, social ties, mental challenges—all blend together in a savory mix. They take time to think deeply about alternatives, choices. They call this virtue gelassenheit, or self-surrender, and it flows directly from their Christian religious heritage. When you are working with your hands, or whatever limbs, out in the field, pretty soon that work becomes self-automating.
It thereby frees up the mind for conversation. Meanwhile, the labor serves as a kind of musical undercurrent that gives a certain depth to the experience. Compare that to sitting virtually motionless at a video monitor watching two dimensions of reality, damaging your back and not getting any exercise for your heart, growing more socially isolated.
Mary embraced what she had learned from their experience, and they moved to an older section of St. Louis, where they garden and educate their three children through a Catholic home-schooling co-op. They have no televison, computer, or other technology they feel is unnecessary. They heat with wood, and Mary uses a hand-operated washing machine.
They use a half-size refrigerator and own an older car, but they walk and bike as much as possible. The Brendes live on a very modest income generated from a variety of enterprises, including his soapmaking. They live frugally and enjoy a healthier lifestyle and more leisure time.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, , review of Better Off, p. People, August 16, , "Better Off" interview , p. Publishers Weekly, May 24, , review of Better Off, p. Science News, September 11, , review of Better Off, p. Contemporary Authors.
Does blindly accepting new technologies into our lives really make us better off? At WCIT in Yerevan, Armenia, industry behemoths and thought leaders came together to discuss the looming threats and opportunities presented by the breaking wave of next-gen tech revolutions. And while there was a lot of soul-searching, and calls for a new ethics and incentive structure to make sure the next decades prioritize humans over capital, one voice stood out as unique. The size of a wall safe, this machine promised to save time for his dad as he wrote articles for psychiatric journals. It sucked all his time.
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende