Sunday, June 17, 2012

Modern Amish

When I come across someone who doesn't use the internet by choice, I find myself perplexed.  I can understand people who don't blog, or post to Facebook or Twitter, but people who refuse to use the internet at all seem as backwards to me as the Amish seem to many people.  In fact, they perplex me so much that I am having a hard time putting my thoughts into words because it just feels so foreign to me.

The cost savings from shopping online alone is significant, but even if you don't want to shop online, you can still find products, compare prices and read product reviews to help you might right choices.  Without the internet, I would spend a lot more on routine car maintenance because I wouldn't be able to find helpful threads on how to do certain repairs  Having the dealership change the in-cabin micro-filter in my cars is something stupid like $40.  The part is <$10 online (or about $15-20 at the dealership).  It takes very little time for me to do that work.  That is just a small sample but the large things add up.  I would never have found a reputable VW specialist shop to do larger work for my out-of-warranty cars without the internet.  Costs for repairs there are 50-70% of what I would pay the dealership for the repairs, but they still have expertise with VWs (which can be finicky beasts sometimes).

What if you need a certain tool or are looking for a specific item of clothing.  The "old" way is to either drive to every store or call every store that you know of (which discovery of new locations becomes a problem to).  The new way?  Check the store's website, and possibly order it and have it waiting at the customer service counter when you arrive.  This has many benefits including the reduction of impulse buys at the store.

Some people would argue that the internet (and texting) has ruined our ability to communicate, but really it has enhanced our ability to communicate when used properly.  When I lived in Germany, I was able to actually SEE my grandparents and talked to them on Skype rather than just hear their voice.  I also didn't have to spend tons of money on international long-distance calls, because it was free to Skype them.

To be clear, this post isn't about people who only sparingly use the internet, but rather people who won't use it.  I don't expect everyone to be staring at their smartphone 24/7, but the internet is an amazing source of knowledge and a way to reach out to others with similar interest.

One last thing before I get off my soap box.  How many animals are saved thanks to entities like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue Foundation who help find homes for Swissies that were abandoned by their owners.  Some of the dogs they have rescued have been dropped off a kill shelters.  One of my parents dogs was able to live out his life in a loving environment around other Swissies rather than being put down in a shelter because someone didn't want to deal with owning a dog anymore.  So, if you won't use the internet for yourself, use it for the Swissies ;)

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