"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

My So-Called Simple Life – Shunning Social Media

There is no social media in MJ’s life. Twitter is the sound of a bird tweeting, a magazine or newpaper on the newstand “in town” must be a “facebook,” surely “google-ing” someone must mean to look at them strangely, and “blog” is a funny mispronunciation of the word “log” by a child.

Amish man straw hat beard No googleIt’s the crack of dawn when MJ gets up to begin his daily chores. Slipping on dark black trousers, with no crease, and his black coat without buttons – only hooks and eyes, he enters the kitchen to sit down to the hearty breakfast MLB has prepared for him.

There are no mirrors to look at his reflection and see how he looks today. And it’s not necessary – this is not how MJ lives in this tight-knit community. Nor are there any photos gracing the home. They are not allowed as part of this simple way of life. One might become vane and focus on how they look.

MJ lives his life like those in the small village, without arrogance or pride. Humility and composure are the keys to living with others in harmony. There is no call for “individualism” as the “English” (outsiders) profess in American culture. It’s all about submission of self and surrendering to God’s will, and the good of the community. There are many “real housewives,” but they aren’t on television. In fact, there’s no television either.

Why else would one shun such time-saving innovations as electricity and automobiles? Transportation is provided by horse-drawn buggies, further slowing the pace of life; there are no showy Cadillac Escalades or BMW’s in sight.

amish, simple life, buggy, horse
——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

*FADE TO REAL WORLD SEQUENCE*

I lead a rich fantasy life, don’t I? (I really need an interrobang there, instead of a question mark).

The clack-clack sound of my laptop brings me back to reality. It catapults me from my simple Amish-life-in-my-mind to this complicated, hurtling mass of insurance, auto registration renewal, social media updating, and writing.

Life continues to roll on like the meatball in this childhood song
(sung to the tune of On Top of Old Smokey):

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

There’s something to be said for simplicity and slowing down our pace, reducing the clutter in our homes (and on our computers for that matter), and connecting more with those in our “community.”

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”   Confucious

With this in mind, my dear community of interweb friends, I present you with three simple questions:

1. Are you Amish, and if so, should you be using a computer?

2. Do you think you could conform to the Amish lifestyle, shunning your individuality?

3. What changes have you made to simplify your life?

Comments

  1. #1. Nope, not Amish…

    But no TV (as you may have read on one of my first blog posts)… There’s just too much trash on there that neither myself nor family needs to fill our minds with.

    #2. Almost… I think it would be great to shed all the excess, but I don’t believe for a minute (although I have not made a deep study of it) that the Amish shed their individuality. I imagine each is as uniquely individual as the rest of us – maybe in more deeply rooted ways even.

    #3. Not nearly enough… But I have written a little about a few of the things over at my WordPress home.

    • Where’d the like button go?
      Am I missing it or is liking your stuff no longer an option since moving to WP.org?

    • Probably a good thing to have no tv.

      You’re right, there probably is quite a bit of individuality in the Amish community, really.

      I still need to simplify more … if I could get off the laptop! :)

  2. Hahaha– question #1 has me cracking up! I am far from living an Amish-style life, but I have deliberately avoided getting a cell phone, opening a Twitter account, or spending more than 2 mins on my obligatory FB account each day. It doesn’t really simplify things, though. (Have you ever tried locating a pay phone lately? They don’t exist anymore!) ;)

    • No cell phone?? I caved around 2004. Fought it for the longest time. But work got me into it and I couldn’t turn back. Now I have the umbilical smart phone. :)

      Wow, no cell phone. Do you have to contact anyone on the fly?

  3. 1. I am not Amish.

    2. I could never be Amish.

    3. We are selling our house and downsizing, which means a lot of simplification as things get thrown in the trash. Like James above, we don’t have a tv, though the internet is probably worse. I can watch anything tv on it any time I want. We only have one car. As an American household not living in the midst of a big city, that’s novel, I guess.

    • We’re doing the same with downsizing and moving, though ours is because of a short sale (one of the many in this area and in the state, for that matter) :(. But it’s also a blessing in disguise as we were just prolonging the agony – being a TON under water. Will be good to simplify during the transition.

      Great that you only have one car. We did that for a year or so, but had to break down and get a second one finally.

  4. Judy Berman says:

    Laughing as I read your “So-Called Simple Life.” I began to picture “Weird Al” Yankovic singing “Amish Paradise:”
    “An Amish with a ‘tude? You know that’s unheard of
    I never wear buttons but I got a cool hat
    And my homies agree, I really look good in black…fool
    If you come to visit, you’ll be bored to tears
    We haven’t even paid the phone bill in 300 years
    But we ain’t really quaint, so please don’t point and stare
    We’re just technologically impaired.”
    I fit the last line, but doubt I could live like the Amish. A down economy, however, has helped me see the wisdom of scaling back.

    • Weird Al – one of my favorites. And that’s a good tune too.

      It would be very tough to live like the Amish. I hate to admit it, but I think I’m too selfish to be able to cope with the lack of self. Not that I’m more selfish than the next guy, but the Amish are really selfless.

      We will be scaling back very soon ourselves by moving into a smaller house and tightening things up. Never a bad thing.

  5. I love technology and my crazy, un-simple life. Wouldn’t want to change it for anything!

    • Love your honesty, Tameri. For the most part, I’m trying to embrace technology since I love to learn. That’s why it would be hard for me to give up the current state of life – I always want to be moving forward.

  6. I’m in love with the word “interrobang”. I shall be using it soon!!!???!!!!

    I’ve been on a quest to simplify- but the more technology we gain, the harder it seems to be to keep mass amounts of data under control. My goal is to whittle our possessions down to what fits nicely into a state of the art RV. That’s how I plan to spend my golden years. Simply and traveling. :)

    • Isn’t that the best – picked it up from a fellow blogger. Just wish I could remember the code to type it in. Will have to look it up.

      Love your idea of fitting it all into a high-tech RV. That’s my idea of camping. Plus I LOVE to drive this great country.

  7. I think I am a bit Amish. I like to stay at home, I’m usually inside by dusk. I don’t have a twitter account…
    Great article, I think we all need to slow down and just appreciate all the good we have.

    • You bring up a good point about appreciating the good we have. Gratitude is unusual today. And I’m with you, I’m a home body myself.

      You’ve done well to avoid Twitter. I just got into it a few weeks ago and have gone into the deep end, unfortunately.

  8. Not Amish, but each Lent I spring clean…Deep clean floor to ceiling and all cabinets. I find so much that I’ve lost/misplaced/don’t need./borrowed and forgot to return. So I consider it simplifying. And then on March 1, I’ll go to one post a week. Another way to simplify life and get out there and live it. Great thought questions. I’ve been conflicted about the decision, but you’ve made me put it in writing, and that clarified it. Thanks. Here’s to simple living.

  9. I am not Amish. I would not conform to Amish lifestyle only because it is not who I am spiritually. I do respect their choice to live and believe as they do. As far as my life goes, I do live very simply these days. Five years ago I quit work to be at home. I thought we would miss my income but we downsized in many ways, and life is so much better! I raise two gardens, I cook healthy meals, and FD and I work together to make improvements on our acres instead of hiring it done. We don’t spend money eating out or indulging in outside entertainment. We have paid off most of our debt. We continually look for new ways to improve our way of life. I think we all know, deep down, that most of this silly stuff we do to keep socially connected just eats up our time and energy. It doesn’t feel good.

    • You are an inspiration. You know who you are and what’s important to you. A quality one doesn’t find very often. It allows you to prioritize well and eliminate the unimportant – another skill that is very uncommon. Both of those things help make life simpler and bring it down to the essentials. On the one hand, I understand what you mean about being socially connected eating up time and energy, yet I can’t help but say that I have received so much in the way of learning, support, and caring from people I wouldn’t have otherwise met; and you are a perfect example of that, among dozens that I’ve connected with. I try to give back, and hopefully others feel that somehow I meet some need for them.

      Just think, if you hadn’t shared the story of Daisy, how many people would have missed out on that experience. Not trying to convince you to feel differently, just throwing out some food for thought. You know, since you got me thinking here in the first place! :)

  10. Hi mj,

    Pressed for time, so gotta keep it brief. (Yes, I can.)

    Two requests.

    1. Could I quote and link this post of yours when I comment on another blogger’s site? After this, I will ask her if I can divulge her site out here. If she’s cool with that, I will most definitely add it here.

    2. If I get the go ahead from both of you, AND I manage to go ahead with the idea of a future blog post that I came up with when I read both your posts just now, could I then quote and link this post of yours in my own (future) post?

    3. Are you sufficiently confused now? Cool! That’s a bonus point for me. ;-)

    No pressure, mj.

    Kate

    • That was “Kate” brief! hehehe

      1. Of course.

      2. Certainly.

      3. No. And here’s a bonus point: <> more like a diamond, isn’t it?

      No pressure felt.

      MJ

      • >That was “Kate” brief! hehehe
        - Laugh away. I asked for it. Besides, I’d rather people laugh than fall asleep with my prattle.

        Right. Prattled enough. Down to biz.

        I read Chris’ post
        http://misslisted.com/2012/02/25/love-is-a-verb/
        right after yours. And they both got me thinking. Of a brand new post. I only hope I get the time to cobble together that one by the end of the month. But this is Feb. That’s 3 days away. Ack!

        Thank you, MJ! I kinda suspected you’d agree, but asking first is the correct thing to do, yes? Especially since you are always so nice and polite.

        Scampering off to Chris’ to add your link there. She was gracious, too, and gave in to my hurried and rather obscure request.

        Kate

        P.S.: Digging your new gravatar. Very Irish. From what little I know of Erin and her lovely people.

        • Never prattling from you, Kate!

          I read Chris’s post and commented – check it out. I referenced you. hehe

          I am SO looking forward to your post. Don’t know how the two tie together, but I’m sure you do, and it will be great.

          Thanks for the comps on the new gravatar. I wasn’t sure it would go over or not. And YAY on the Irish comment. It is very Irish at that, as am I. ;)

          • >I read Chris’s post and commented – check it out. I referenced you. hehe
            - Meep! *hiding under chair and whispering* Back atcha there, too.

            >I am SO looking forward to your post. Don’t know how the two tie together, but I’m sure you do, and it will be great.
            - Dude, when I said, “No pressure” earlier, guess what I was hinting at? Not at all, actually. Just being silly.

            >Thanks for the comps on the new gravatar. I wasn’t sure it would go over or not. And YAY on the Irish comment. It is very Irish at that, as am I.
            - YAY indeed! When I first began reading your blog, that thought crossed my mind. Am so glad to have been spot on!

            Oh, I love the Irish twang and their humour and their charming ways. Bestie Boy has a fraction of Irish heritage. I’ve got another good (true blue) Irish gal pal whose mail I will feature in a future post. Oh, the way the (real) Irish swear! She cracks me up! And then, *she* has an equally hearty laugh at my expense because she knows I can’t, yes, can’t swear. Those words just do not roll off my tongue. They come to the mind alright under the, um, right circumstances. :-)

            Kate

  11. 1. Are you Amish, and if so, should you be using a computer?
    I’m not Amish and quite frankly I wouldn’t be able to do my job or study without a computer. Everything has to be typed to be handed in for Uni – plus we need to use a range of sources for our work and the internet is required, and video clips, audio clips, photos, presentations and things I end up using in the classroom all day every day.

    2. Do you think you could conform to the Amish lifestyle, shunning your individuality?
    Nope, definitely not. I respect them and quite frankly am amazed that they can do so, but I think the way I was brought up (to be an individual, to do something different if I want) would make this impossible.

    3. What changes have you made to simplify your life?
    I follow the Getting Things Done system of productivity. It sounds really complex but actually it’s surprising how simple everything is when all you ever have to do is the “next action”. That and periodically going through everything in my life and throwing out/recycling/giving away things I don’t need. I do that at least once a month!

    To type an interrobang ‽:
    Windows – ALT+8253 (use the numbers on your number pad or alt+shift on the numbers across the top I believe).
    HTML – & #8253 ; (without the spaces)
    Mac – You need to assign a keyboard shortcut. But if you press CMD/Apple+Alt+T you will get the “insert special characters box” up, and then under punctuation you can find an interrobang.
    The only thing is there are too many places on the internet that don’t support interrobangs :(

    • >To type an interrobang ‽:
      >Windows – ALT+8253
      - Thanks, Rosemary! Saved me the trouble of Googling that.

      Kate

    • 1. I’m with you on needing the computer, so I couldn’t be Amish either.

      2. Yah, I’m too individual to Amish myself. Though I like a lot of the principles.

      3. I like your Getting Things Done system. I will have to look that up as I haven’t heard of it. Sounds good and simple. And a once-a-month purge – awesome!

      4. How are you bolding parts of your comment?? Explain, please!

      5. Great job on the interrobang!

      • Getting things done is a system by David Allen, it’s quite complex for the beginner but I find it’s well worth it in the end. I was actually planning on doing a blogger’s guide to it Sunday after next!

        I’m bolding parts of my comment by using the tags without the spaces, so bolded text here .

        I thought seeing as I was googling the interrobang for myself I should share :)

  12. I am not Amish, but I do come from a family of Mennonites. No, really!! I could not conform, I don’t think. Although I do like to wear black. Hmmm.
    As far as simplifying life, I just try to stay organized!! As far as simplifying social media, I know there are a lot of ways to automate it all, but I think that totally defeats the point of connecting with people. So, I have decided to not do it all, and just do what feels comfortable for me.

    • Really? Mennonites? That’s cool. Did you wear the traditional garb, or your mother, etc?

      I’m with you on automating SM. I want to do it, but it just seems wrong to me. I have buffer, but haven’t scheduled a single tweet.

  13. Jessica Moore says:

    1. Nope I’m not Amish
    2. Nope I couldn’t be Amish.
    3. I just wish my daughter was Amish. Then no boys would need to look at her ..ever. She wouldn’t want to wear some of the interesting prom dress selection I came across yesterday while bridesmaid dress shopping with a friend. She would remain completely covered even in the summer. She would never see half of the horrible things on the internet. It would be a legitimate bubble..if only we were Amsih.

  14. I’m not Amish, but I watched Witness several times.

    Simplify? What’s that? ;) I’m going for 20 minute solo walks every day in Lent. It’s only 20-30 minutes, but it’s lovely. I caught snowflakes on my tongue yesterday. Trying to make the occasional moment bigger

  15. I love the new background. Very elegant and neat!

    I am not Amish and I will never shun my individuality! Also, I have made my life simpler by buying lesser things. It is liberating really!

    Loved the post!

    • Thank you, my friend! Glad you like it.

      Yeah, the whole individuality thing is tough to get past.

      Great job on simplifying. I should buy fewer things, but unforch, I love me that Amazon shopping thing. I don’t go overboard, but I do like it.

  16. 1. Nay

    2. Nay.

    3. I took a demotion and a huge pay cut to clear some of the stress out of my life. What a relief that was, despite the other challenges of taking that road. I generally feel that my life is pretty simple, even though I use technology. I have actively chosen not to participate in any social media except Facebook and my prehistoric email account. But part of the problem with “trying” to simplify life is that the world won’t allow it without consequence. If I didn’t have a cell phone, I wouldn’t have a phone at all, and that would be ill-advised from a safety standpoint. If I didn’t have email or Facebook, those who adhere to it closely would not contact me at all. If I didn’t have a computer on my desk at work, I’d be obsolete and non-contributing. Sometimes one does have to go along to get along. Unless one is Amish. Which I’m not. And couldn’t be.

    • Very inspiring on the pay cut and reduced stress. I’m going to be job-searching in March and will see how it works out. Would like to simplify with work stress, but may end up back in the “grind” for several more years. It’s what I know and necessary to pay the bills.

      It’s good that you’ve limited it to FB and email. That’s much simpler.

  17. MJ, I loved the recap of your Amish day. ;)
    I had three vacation weeks last year in China where I didn’t have access to FB or Twitter or my blog. It forced me offline and made me connect more with my surroundings. It was a good reminder that much like video games, social networking should be limited and not be allowed to take over your life. :)

    • Fantastic to vacation in China! Three weeks, wow. Bet that was exciting. I have never been there. My son went to Japan for three weeks in HS and loved that.

      I’m trying not to let social media take over, but haven’t been super successful! :)

  18. Hi MJ!
    1. Not an Amish
    2. Too free-spirited to be in the Amish lifestyle.
    3. Implemented Dave Ramsey’s budgeted lifestyle. Life is simple now.
    Thank you for asking :)

    • Sunshine, all this time I thought you were Amish. :)

      Ramsey’s debt-free budget process is a good one. Wish I had the willpower and self-control. I’m not a spendthrift, but I don’t adhere to a strict budget (I know, I should). Glad you’re able to do it, though.

  19. 1. Not Amish, therefore no guilt in using a computer. TV I own but do not much watch. Sophia is about as Amish as me in this respect too. None of the baby einstein, IQ baby and whatnots for her (yet).

    2. I didn’t know they had to shun individuality!

    3. In many ways computers simplify my life actually. In the past I used to have to physically look through tonnes of books for work research now I just type in a few keywords in a search engine and it points me to vaguely the right direction. That’s simplier right? Oh and the iphone is phone, camera, mps player all rolled into 1 so I carry 1 device instead of 3, again simpler no?

    2 years ago I did move into a space 2/3 the size of my previous home and did a lot of throwing out of junk but with the entrance of baby Sophia into our life I think the junk is piling up again, more than ever. Somehow the bottom of our bed is filled with clothes and toys she has outgrown, gifts she’s scared of (cookie monster), gifts she’s too young to use (backbacks, among others), a huge stash of diapers and who-knows-what-else!

    • Very good point about computers simplifying life in many ways. I find that to be true as well. Same with the iPhone – though some would disagree, saying that it links them too much to the phone when out and about.

      Great that you’ve downsized, but it’s difficult with small children. Their toys and clothes do take up a lot of space and it seems that everyone wants to gift them with new ones frequently (unless times have changed since ours were children).

  20. Not Amish…Yorkshire. I drive an old VDub camper that is 90% recycled and reaches a top speed of 50miles per hour. So style over speed. And I live in a teeny tiny house powered by elves.
    I only knew up to verse 3 of On Top of Spaghetti had no idea the other 3 existed. So thank you for widening my camp fire sing-a-long repertoire.

    • Great job on the camper VDub! Love that vehicle. So you’re English, then? Loved living there for a few years. Miss it loads.

      I checked out your site and love it. Will be asking for a 5 minute face on your blog shortly!

      Keep working on On top of Spaghetti!

  21. #1 – No, but I do live in the area.
    #2 – No, I could handle the chores and the work and the doing of stuff, but it’s the religion that gets me.
    #3 – Decluttering is my main mode of simplifying. We’re on the lookout for some farmland to purchase, but I don’t think that will simplify so much as add more outdoor work. Our dream is to own a hobby farm. I do have a Twitter account, but I simplified my phone – I dropped from a smartphone to a regular phone. Shocking, I know!

    • That is so cool that you live in the area.

      I admire your decluttering. It’s so necessary and yet very difficult. Good luck on the farmland purchase. And yes, I am shocked about the fact that you dropped the smart phone. Though quite a few people I know have done it.

  22. 1. I’m not Amish. I’m Catholic. We’re allowed to use computers. In fact, it’s required. It’s the 11th commandment. The Pope says so.

    2. No. I’m too quirky to shun my individuality. Besides, I think the Amish have it all wrong and they’re all going to be in therapy before you know it.

    3. I’ve stopped trying to grocery shop for two week’s worth of food at a time. I’ve found I may actually not mind the grocery store so much when it’s not a two-hour chore.

    • Glad you’re “commanded” to use computers! hehe

      Yeah, that individuality is tough to get past, isn’t it?

      Wow, you were shopping for two week’s worth of food? You are a brave soul.

  23. Going from suburban CA’s Central Valley to Amish is a bit of a leap… Kind of like asking a NYC Gastronomic Jew if he wants to become Hassidic. A little more mainstream, as well as distributed across the USA would be the Mennonites. Their culture ranges from Old Order (essentially Amish) to the mini-van sorts that use technology and run univeristies, such as Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. The simple life is often what we see from the outside, without awareness of the commitments that go into living simply. The simple life generally does not give one much time for following people around the world. You are too busy tending to your nutrition, caring for each other, contemplating and worshiping.
    Oscar

    • You bring up some good points, Oscar. The “simple life” definitely doesn’t come without a tremendous responsibility to their community. And they are going from before sun-up to after sun-down each day. Only Sunday is even just partial rest, as they have other chores that still must be done.

      Also, the type of order does have a lot to do with how strictly they follow the machine/electricity rules.

  24. Interesting post :)

    Not Amish.

    I’d have to respectfully decline b/c. I’m far too vain with my hair & makeup, I’d melt under lots of layers and I am not naturally obedient.

    On simplifying … growing up on a farm, I loved being “up with the birds” and even though I work a 9-5 job, now that it’s getting lighter outside, I like to get up earlier. I love my quiet times alone with the dog & the birds .. to walk and think, enjoy the silence w/out technology. I work for a cable/internet/phone provider and barely watch TV (love my high speed though, go figure). Have a work cell phone only; barely use the phone anymore. I seem to be embracing silence and paring things down, giving things away, having less, loving more .. the older I get. I like this new me.

    Cheers! MJ

    • Congrats on simplifying, MJ. That’s a fantastic way to live. I’m realizing the same things as I get older. Why have all the junk we accumulate? Books are hard for me to let go of sometimes, but I’m working on that. Only a couple of bookcases to cull through.

  25. There’s a large Amish population in and around Bland, VA where we have a farm and a small cabin. Whenever we are there we like to shop at their stores. It always amazes me to see the hitching post outside and their teams of horses racing through the fields. But as much as I admire them, I don’t think I would last long at it myself. I’m just a tad too girly and I actually like buttons and lipstick and cars and…..you get the point.

  26. Kate, thank you for the link up and for getting even the tiniest inspriration from my post. :)

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