Lani's Reviews > Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology

Better Off by Eric Brende
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Mar 09, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, biography
Read from February 28 to 29, 2012

I keep reading these 'turn off the technology' books and know going in that they're going to annoy me. Better Off did have a different approach, but I found the author so obnoxious that I would often get distracted.

The idea is interesting, Brende goes to MIT and decides technology is wreaking havoc on society. Fine. He looks into tech-free societies like the Amish and thinks THEY ARE CHEATING WITH MOTORS. So he goes and finds an even more strict community that only uses horses. He meets a girl, they marry quickly, and move to the woods.

I'm not saying there isn't some value in the book. It's true that a 'simpler' life is better in some ways. But Brende was so preachy and condescending about his decisions, his opinions, his perspectives on his neighbors, and his treatment of his wife. It's a shame, because the book DOES make some interesting points, but it was difficult to read with a narrator so convinced of his own superiority to EVERYONE.

The book often gets sidetracked by community politics or personal stories I didn't find particularly relevant. The epilogue follows the author now that he's living in a city as a rickshaw driver. But I felt like living in the city he's reaping the benefits of industrialized society while arguing that not letting his kids watch TV and making his own soap means that he's self-sufficient.

I also didn't appreciate a sort of weird religious undertone to the book, but maybe that was just because his tone throughout was so evangelistic and superior.
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