Inside a quiet revolution

This "simplify your life" business can get sort of complicated, unless you're spiritually evolved enough to leave America's get-it-now consumers to their own devices.

Or unless your vision of completeness happens to look as sparse as Ted Kaczynski's cabin.

But it's a topic with currency. There's a widespread belief that life is, by definition, frenetic.

That's certainly debatable. Sure, the economy's fast, but can you really not afford to go to lunch without an electronic leash?

Sounds a little self-important.

Even among those who agree on wanting a "simpler" life, there's debate over how to get there. High-tech, for example, is called either a helpmate or another source of clutter. Something you need just to keep pace - or something you must work harder and longer just to afford.

Most of us inhabit a middle ground between latter-day Luddites and those who view "wearable technology" as a stepping stone to encoded irises and fingertip, microchip implants.

Luddites are losing big. Technology's the ultimate consumer product. Flashy. Trendy. Quick to obsolesce. You start buying, and wind up upgrading. A gadget becomes an integral tool - then gets superseded or "converged." It's easy to get sucked into the vortex.

Today's lead story pinpoints a quiet new countertrend. The latest group to turn toward voluntary simplicity - paring back on consumer technology by choice: some of the high-octane young achievers in the high-tech industry itself.

What's interesting, besides the obvious irony, is that they've joined up without becoming radical rejectionists. Or shedding their stock options. They're just individuals quietly seeking a balance.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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