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I like that in Nye’s article he references how electricity made such a shift in our culture. All of a sudden, the work week is becoming shorter because people have the opportunity to spend their time on more exciting entertainment; also, they are more willing to spend their earned money on the entertainment and on products now that such an array of luxury-related appliances are available. I thought that part, and the subsequent pages analyzing amusement park culture, was very interesting because so often now I hear about how the current generation of Americans is overworked and underpaid. I wonder if this is an even more drastic form of what happened around the creation of electricity and the amusements and luxury that came with it. Now that we have bigger and better entertainment both in public and in the privacy of our homes, are we becoming more lazy about our work lives? Now that we are so used to coming home and plopping in front of the laptop screen, iPad, or tv, are we becoming too attuned and attracted to being entertained? Does this contribute to apathy for changing our consumption patterns to aid the environment?
I found the article on Amish communities very interesting, and it raised a couple questions for me. The first thing that surprised me was that Amish people are supposed to be strangers to the world. But then the article went on to say that they are restricting the use of technology because it makes people closer. That seems kind of off to me. If they want to be closer, why would they be strangers to the world without technology. Maybe they just want to be closer to themselves, but not the outside world? I also asked myself if I could live this way. And I may be spoiled, but I don't think I could. I mean obviously I would survive, but life would be entirely different and extremely difficult. The end of the paper asked the question, will the minority still be practicing the old ways in the future. I don't think they will be. If they are already seeing this change, I think it will continue to progress as our culture does. It might take a lot longer, but they will begin to incorporate more technology in the years to come.
I found Nye's article particularly interesting because the trends that he noted regarding electricity and consumerism, I find still present with new technology today. One statement that hit home for me was "Consumption became not a mater of fulfilling fixed needs but a matter of ascending an endless staircase of expenses that were dictated by popular fashion. Yesterday's luxury became today's necessity, and each change in style required a comprehensive revision of wardrobe and furnishing" (162).
I think this can be seen in many trends, such as we had discussed in class last week how many personal electronics a person has and how each is essential for different situations. For myself, a perfect example of this is purchasing a smart phone. I waited quite a while before deciding to purchase a smart phone because it meant that I would no longer be on my parent's plan and would have to pay a monthly fee in addition to the cost of the smart phone. When I asked family and friends if I should make the plunge, one of the responses I heard most often was "you will never understand how you got by without one once you have one". And I found that this became quite true for me, as someone who takes the bus life becomes so much easier when I can see real-time when the bus will come. And other functions such as checking my email wherever I am, mapping a route to locations, etc. have become so ingrained in my life that this piece of technology is no longer a "luxury" to me but rather a "necessity".
The Nye reading was interesting to me because it showed trends through time with how electricity has impacted everything from family time, to work hours, to people going from “customers” to “consumers.” It also created a “national mass culture” according to Nye, who writes that this new culture “replaced local culture but still provided public experiences for crowds of people. People thronged into ballrooms, dance halls, night dubs, movie theaters, and amusement parks, sharing a common social life” (165). He goes on to make a key statement that I think still holds true for much of the societal developments of today: “Electrification did not cause these developments, but it certainly enhanced them” (165).
So much of what we do depends on electricity. Other than making a deliberate effort to not use electricity and be content to make those sacrifices, I don’t see how we can escape its use and still function successfully in today’s society.
I thought Nye’s article was really interesting because he discussed how electricity has evolved our society into what it is today. Electricity has given us transportation, entertainment, and easier ways to become more productive in the workplace. What I found most interesting is the thought that more people are beginning to transition from “going out” and experiencing entertainment to staying in their living rooms. Electricity gave way to concerns, carnivals, and many other types of entertainment that allowed us to have a break from the working society. People could come together and socialize while enjoying outside entertainment. However, the advancement of electricity gave way to personal technologies such as the computer and television. Nye states that with these technologies, people are now choosing to stay inside and entertain themselves or their families without having to leave the house. This means that people are less likely to get out and socialize with others, or even just experience real world culture. This makes me think of the article about Amish communities and their lack of electricity or advancing technology. Our culture has become so dependent on these personal technologies, will we start to back away from personal interaction all together?
The article on the Amish reminded me of a story I heard on NPR about how our sleep patters have changed since the invention of the light bulb. In a nutshell, it was about how people without electricity would generally go to bed earlier and have two types of sleep in any given evening - first sleep and second sleep. Here's a quote I found on their Web site.
"The "first sleep" began shortly after sundown and lasted until after midnight. When people woke up, they would pray, read, have sex, whatever. The "second sleep" then lasted until sunup. In experiments, researchers have found that when people live solely by natural light, they revert back to this ancient "segmented sleep" pattern and that, chemically, the body in that interval between first and second sleep is "in a state equivalent to what you might feel after spending a day at the spa." It seems that, thanks to the light bulb, the entire industrialized world is sleeping unnaturally." http://www.npr.org/2012/08/07/158087512/dreamland-open-your-eyes-to-the-science-of-sleep
The story didn't really say which type of sleep is better. Pre-electricity sleep seems like it might be better, but it also seems more inefficient. Think of how much of the day would be spent sleeping in the winter in Minnesota.
Both articles were about how new forms of technology has affected one's culture. In the Amish article, I thought it was interesting to read about all the electronic devices and technological devices they are prohibited from using. While I was reading the article, I just kept on imagining what their life must be like and how I do not think I could live like that after being accustomed to the life I am used to now with electronics, etc. I thought it was interesting when it said, "By restricting their use of technology, the Amish have been able to maintain a closeness of family and group life that the larger society has lost". In a way, I admire this aspect of the Amish culture. They do not rely heavily on electronic entertainment, they rely on each other. They need each other more than they need machines, technology, and electricity. There is pretty much something electronic that can meet a human's needs. But, in our mainstream society today, could we eliminate technology altogether and still be content and happy? Could we survive?
This was a discussion I had just today with one of my friends, can you imagine the world before electricity... Neither of us really could and each of us decided that it would be awful in many ways. Not simply because we wouldn't have electricity, but thinking of the time before electricity and the way people had to lead their lives. We simply would not be as established as we are if we didn't have this way to extend the day. We are now in a constant state of desire for more time in our lives to the point where it is scary. Some people simply cannot sleep as a result of the hyper-packed lives that they lead and electricity made this all possible. It is as if electricity single-handedly made it possible for us all to become the neurotic beings we are today.
It’s amazing just how much we rely on electricity today. Almost everything we do requires electricity. We are constantly using it. These readings highlighted some interesting thoughts about electricity and how it changed society. According to the reading, when electricity became especially popular right around the turn of the 20th century, it had a huge effect on American culture. I thought it was particularly interesting that the article emphasized that it was because of electricity that the average work week hours were reduced dramatically, enabling people to have more free time, and in that same vein, electricity gave them new and exciting things to do in their free time. New working Americans were at popular hangouts such as the movies, amusement parks and at dance halls, all new technologies that were possible because of electricity. On the other hand, with all the technology that electricity enables today, it is extremely difficult for those people who wish to avoid electricity. The Amish find it hard to remain economically competitive without the use of electricity, and it is virtually impossible to them to be entirely cut off from electricity. But it is interesting, because the Amish have a point. I think that electric technologies today to allow us to grow distant from each other and loose our family ties. Why go visit grandma for a week when you can just call her up for 20 minutes on a Sunday?
The analysis of Amish culture was incredibly interesting for myself, since it corrected many false views that I had on their culture before as well as enlightening me of the reasoning behind many of their technological decisions.
Overall, though I don't think I could live like the Amish do, I wholly understand and even agree with for the most part their reasons behind why they live how they live. For myself, though I do tend to be relatively forward thinking as far as technology goes, I'm sure there is a point where I would say, okay enough is enough, and stop pursuing a product after that point, perhaps because it infringes on my privacy, on my person, or as with the Amish, makes relationships that much harder to form or maintain. Perhaps one day, in one respect or another, I may become like the Amish of the future, holding onto an old tradition. Probably the tradition of physical media, if it comes to that.
I liked that Nye refuted the idea of corporations furthering the electric culture by explaining that the Victorian era, when the class divide was made extremely large, was furthered by the "elite". That these high-class individuals felt that it was their responsibility to bring up and enlighten the rest of society is a sad and large amount of elitism. It seems that they were dangerously out of touch with others, while even the politicians were able to understand.
Besides being out of touch, I hadn't realized that electricity would have effected the wardrobe of women at the time due to fashionability. This is along the same lines as what Nye was describing with niceties becoming necessities. This is something that the Amish people were able to and have been able to avoid very well. They continue to deal person-to-person when buying goods rather than relying on brand names. They also didn't deal with advertising that set up people's desire for new items. They live an interesting and selective life on their way to a good relationship with God. It is quite remarkable.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on March 6, 2013 10:41 AM.
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