Would you give up the internet for $1 million?

That was the question asked in this thought-provoking video I watched over the weekend.

The tone of the narrator is a little too “kindergarten teacher” for me, and don’t watch if you don’t want to see people in beach-style attire in a few places.

But it makes a pretty interesting point. Compared to our predecessors, we live like kings (behold the $4,000 1980s brick cellphone).

The internet, on the scene a mere 15 years, brings people huge value–but costs us a minute fraction of that value. Is it the greatest deal ever?

Amish certainly participate in, and benefit from, capitalism.  Though Amish society is also backed by a strong sense of Christian duty requiring that you help your neighbor in times of need.

Most Amish are offline, of course.  So the million-dollar-question is largely irrelevant for them.

How about you though–a million bucks to unplug from the net for life?  Would it be worth it?

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    1. kristin jager

      Would you give up the internet for $1 million ?

      I did view the video clip. It is a thought provoking question for most. However, it certainly would simplify my life to give up the internet…give up the computer. So, yes, I would give it up . I lived without it most of my life and survived quite nicely. My parents…my grandparents did, as well. It is something one really does not need for survival purposes. I have basically cut out watching tv. I watch very little and I do not really miss it. There are so many other things to do…family obligations to fulfill, books to read.
      In a way, I envy the Amish…they have the right idea. They live full and productive lives without the reliance of this technology. Their lives are rich with family and community. Not with gadgets. They are rich in every sense of the word.

    2. Matthew

      In one word: Yes.

      This is in good part because I earn about half of my living from the internet – and if I had one million dollars, I wouldn’t need this part of my living any longer.

      So where do I send my address to collect the money? 🙂

    3. Joan

      One Million

      I definitely would give up the internet. That along with Facebook can be very addictive and can interfere with other aspects of your life. I don’t see where technology has totally improved our world. It has made us social outcasts. And I would be happier without it.

    4. JP59

      Yes, I definitely would. To put it in very practical terms, the only thing I “need” the Internet for is my work, and if I had an additional $1 million, I wouldn’t have to work. I have plenty of off-line activities that would keep me more than occupied.

      One question, Erik: In your post, you say “Most Amish are offline.” Aren’t ALL Amish offline?

      1. Do Amish go online?

        Hi JP59, thanks for the good question. Actually no. Some Amish adults do have access to internet through cell phones or at a non-Amish workplace. You see more of this in the larger and more progressive communities. Here’s a short piece on that:


        This would also apply to youth, probably even more so. A few weeks ago we had a discussion here about Amish youth on Facebook: https://amishamerica.com/amish-youth-on-facebook/

        1. Mary Brandenburg

          True enough, Erik. We have an OO Amish man/friend that has, because he works for an English corporation, his own email address and he surfs the net as part of his job. He really tries to curb his use of the technology (i.e. we never receive an email from him and he won’t give out his email address), but he admits it is very tempting to get overly involved in the internet.

    5. The million-dollar question

      This one has made me think.

      On the one hand a million bucks is nothing to sneeze at.

      On the other, exiling yourself from the internet for life would prevent you in many cases from operating a business, or, for that matter, holding down many jobs.

      I guess your answer might depend on how many years you have in front of you. And what kind of occupational possibilities you have. And how much money your lifestyle requires as well.

      You’d also lose the connectivity with distant friends and loved ones the internet provides.

      On the plus side you could gain a lot. Especially if you lived close to loved ones. It might even be healthier (If I were forced offline I’d probably spend more time outside!) You might just be happier. Hmm.

      1. JP59

        “I guess your answer might depend on how many years you have in front of you.”

        That’s a good point. Since I’m in my 50s, it’s a lot easier for me to imagine the rest of my life without the Internet than it would be for someone in his 20s.

    6. Tamara

      A large number of us who are interested in the Amish lifestyle already have considered and have likely taken measures to simplify our lifestyles. This may be a skewed poll!

    7. Would I give up the Internet?

      I would, and am contemplating doing that. (As Tamara says, this may be a skewed poll.) I would probably keep the computer,as I need it for writing, but I would find my way around the ‘net connection problem with downloading to writable media and utilizing the postal service. And I would do it for nothing, although a million dollars whould make the transition much easier. My life is already fairly simple. Right now, internet connectivity is a big expense for us.

      It’s interesting to see you, Erik, comment on capitalism as you have experience in both the well-established free market of the West and the post-communist life in Eastern Europe. Trade on the Amish level is sustainable, and with the ordnung, the Amish are less susceptible to the frivolity of the over-hyped American marketplace. My experience in Ontario was that while the Amish and Mennonites shop at Walmart and the supermarket, and have nothing against Coca-Cola and Hostess cupcakes when the occcasion calls for them, they are not running up credit card debt for iPods and Hello Kitty umbrellas. And since most Amish keep the internet at arm’s length or further, they aren’t subjected to the frenetic advertising that tries to sell us shoes chosen for us by someone like Kim Kardashian. (I’m trying to imagine my life in the barn and garden in hot pink platform stilletoos.)

      1. Capitalism vs. Communism

        Magdalena I first came to Poland in 1989 (well 1981 actually, but memories from that time are thin) and it was like people describe East/Central Europe of that era–grey depressing apartment blocks, crummy cars, people didn’t have much.

        I remember the special store–“Pewex”–where if you possessed the magical hard currency you could actually get Western-quality products. It was all fascinating but probably because I was just an interloper and didn’t have to grow up in it.

        I think things are cyclical–when you are under the boot of Communism, capitalism looks great–and it is. Poland had a ‘wild west’ version of it the first few years post-89. Once you get fat and a little happy, you can afford to critique the capitalist system. I don’t think we’re at that stage yet in Poland outside of maybe a younger elite contingent with few memories pre-89.

        Capitalism isn’t perfect. But I do think people can take criticism of a free-market system too far. It’s usually those who have no experience of the alternatives.

    8. Alice Aber

      Would I give up the internet???


      I would give up the internet easily if I had another means to conduct business. And I might give it up anyway. I am trying to work towards a means now of being more self suportive and self reliant. If it all works out, I will be giving up the internet, cell phone and probably even house phone. It’s all nice and convenient but not really necessary

      Yes, I would miss my friends who are not willing to communicate with me via snail mail but in the end I have to do what is better for me. As I am sure they would do what is best for them.

      TV is not something I have enjoyed in about 12 years so that will be the first to go. Internet I will continue to use until I get myself better situated but then that will also go. Now if someone wanted to pay me something to give it all up for life, my plans would move along a bit faster, LOL. But they are still my plans to eventually end all this stuff and live a simpler less complicated life.

      While these conveniences may seem to make things on the surface seem less complicated they can also complicate at the same time. In the long run I believe I will be better off without it.

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Watching TV vs. watching programs on a computer

        Alice I enjoy TV sometimes but I’m glad I don’t have one. TV is tricky; one program ends, another begins. Program on the dull side? Just flip to another station.

        I do watch movies sometimes on my laptop, but it seems the fact that the format is less convenient and more restricted keeps you from watching a bunch of junk “just because it’s on”. That’s been my experience anyway.

        I don’t think I’d have a problem giving up TV for life for $1 million.

    9. Mary Brandenburg


      I could never read Amish America again….. 🙂

      1. The answer of the day! If this were a contest you’d surely win something here Mary 🙂

        1. Mary Brandenburg

          Some might accuse me of “brown nosing” or “sucking up” to the blogmaster… but seriously, my life is so hectic these days that I only have time to surf a few choice sites: Amish Stories and Amish America are two of the handful that I still bother to frequent. So, go ahead, send me my prize; I’m waiting….. 🙂

          1. Mary, hey “the blogmaster”, I like the ring of that, first time I’ve been called “master” at anything 🙂 I’m going to get a big head if you keep that up. What did Amish Stories say about a prize? 😉

    10. Someone better not offer me $1000 (let alone a million) to cut the internet connection. I have threatened to get it out of the house already. But my work does need a connection from time to time doing research so I havent carried out the idea of actually de-wiring.
      I grew up without TV and dont miss it. In fact, when I am in a house with that thing chattering away it gets on my nerves.
      The Internet is evolving, with more and more graphics and flash content, whereas 10 years ago it was more text based. So you tend to see a lot more stuff that you would be better off not seeing.
      So please get that Unser Leit book giveaway going before I dewire Erik. 🙂

      1. Mike, hang on just a bit before you toast that router…!

        At the moment I can’t promise anything other than…another contest this week. Wednesday or Thursday. A pretty big giveaway. It’s not Unser Leit, but I think you’ll enjoy this next one quite a bit 🙂

        (plus the contest winner of Bernese Anabaptists tomorrow of course…the suspense builds 🙂 )

    11. Richard

      Count another person in on giving-up the internet for a million, i like and enjoy the internet but not that much where id turn down a million to leave it . Ill just go back to comic books and yo yo’s. Richard http://www.Amishstorys.com

      1. Alice Aber

        Comic books and yo-yos??

        Richard, did you ever give up comic books and yo-yos??? I can’t imagine that!! LOL

        I don’t care if I get a bunch of money or not,, I’m willing to give it up and if my friends/family do not want to keep in touch snail mail or if that comes to and end,,, so be it!!


    12. Alice Mary

      Too much at stake?

      Mary, outstanding reply, and I wholeheartedly agree! (Erik, isn’t there something you can award her?)

      For those thinking they would use the US Postal Service, don’t be so sure. It’s truly on the way out, at least the 6-day (used to be 7, or twice a day, years back), “cheap” system we grew up with. My husband is a retired postal employee—mailman, then supervisor, then manager, then postmaster—with 36 years of service behind his belt—retired for nearly 4 1/2 years. He is genuinely worried about losing his pension, because of what he’s been hearing/experiencing for YEARS while he was in the USPS—if nothing else, the cost of his health insurance (he pays every penny of it himself) is outrageious—and we’re both too “young” for Medicare. Our own post office in our town is going to close…there’ll be a small “retail” operation left (stamps, mailing pkgs), but the delivery function will be moved to a nearby town. One of the reasons for its’ (USPS) probable demise is the internet.

      It’s not so easy to decide—I certainly am not “attached at the hip” to the internet (or ANY techlology). While I have a cell phone for “emergencies”, I have never texted in my life. The only reason I’m on Facebook (and I go MONTHS without using it) is because I had to get on as part of an assignment in my Library Technical Assistant ONLINE course (the course I take is only offered at a very, very few colleges in the state—I’d have to drive 45 miles one way to take it “in person”, and have to re-arrange my work schedule to do so).

      Just this morning, we had a violent wind/rainstorm blow through our area as I was getting ready for work. We lost (as did many) some big tree branches—my son (34) nearly hit a tree that came down in front of his car! When I got to work (the library), our power was out. We oculdn’t check out books (computerized), couldn’t print out a list of the participants who were to attend a program we had a performer coming to do at 10:30 am (registration, and attendance are kept in a software program on the computer). I had to make calls (couldn’t email them with the internet inaccessible) to other employees to tell them to stay home—I couldn’t get through to many (power outage). Like it or not(and I know many of us DO NOT) , I need to use the ‘net to do my job, if nothing else. News travels much faster on the ‘net (we can only hope it’s accurate, as is true with any type of news media, not just “electronic”). Banking, odering clothing, food, prescriptions, etc. via the internet can save a lot of gasoline and time. As others contributing to this blog have pointed out, whether it would be worth it to give it up “for life” for a mere (?) million bucks would depend upon how long you had “in front of” you. OK for me, maybe, but certainly not my 28 & 29-year-old daughter & son-in-law with their 4 month old baby. That wouldn’t be enough for health insurance, medical bills & transportation for a “lifetime”.

      Unfortunately (or otherwise?) the internet is truly a “lifeline” for many of us who depend on it for our “living” or to quickly (as in overseas snail mail) communicate with friends and family whom we wouldn’t otherwise be able to “visit” face-to-face.

      One final comment: I have, for many years, relized how “lucky” (if not “rich”) we are in the USA–I had to wonder, though, if I was one of a shrinking minority to feel that way (was I so “removed” from reality that I was feeling thankful for something others were taking for granted or feeling “entitled” to?) I’m glad to learn I wasn’t “alone” after all! 😉

      1. A million bucks ain't what it used to be?

        Alice Mary, hopefully I’ll be able to award Mary a book this week (we have another big contest coming up in a couple days) but that will depend in part on the random number generator 🙂

        Good points on our net dependency.

        I also like your point about a “mere” million bucks–with this deal, you are basically accepting a pretty big occupational handicap for a nice (ok, very nice) cash payout today. Some of us could definitely make it work. And if you still had to work, there are still occupations that don’t require you being online (aren’t there? 😉 ).

        If you have a lifetime of expenses ahead of you, it would probably not be as great a deal as it seems–especially since who knows what a dollar will be worth in 5 or 10 years anyway? 🙁

        I also want to add, I am grateful for all these rich early adopters who help finance all this great technology by paying super-inflated early prices. I liked the prof’s quote, something along the lines that capitalism has a “built-in welfare transfer system”. I’d never though of it in those exact terms.

    13. samantha

      Would you give up the internet for $1 million?

      I actually would be able to give up all of my electronics except for maybe me lifebeats(mp3). For i never really use any of them only to check and make sure everybody in my family is okay or something like that.

    14. Matt from CT

      >Amish certainly participate in, and benefit from, capitalism.
      >Though Amish society is also backed by a strong sense of Christian
      >duty requiring that you help your neighbor in times of need.

      Both communism and capitalism without moderation will destroy their own societies. We’ve already seen that with communism (and China is hoping to heck it can pull off a radical swing from communism to a tightly controlled capitalism before their nation implodes or explodes from the population pressures they face…something they’re well on the way to doing but haven’t accomplished yet.)

      “Free market” is probably the best term to describe well regulated capitalism — the more vibrant the market, the less government interference and regulation it needs. Anytime you hear the words, “too big to fail” you darn well know you’re not dealing with a free market, but rather a market dependent to only a few companies.

      You want there to be enough competition that the market polices company’s quality and performance; at the same time you don’t want a market with so many players and so little differentiation that everyone competes solely on price and you end up in a spiral of price declines that becomes destructive to everyone.

      Because a system that only thinks in dollars and never by heart will eventually eat it’s own seed and destroy the very consumers it depended on.

    15. Richard

      Alice using a “yo yo” takes skill , I’ve now graduated from dazzling audiences with my famous “walking the dog trick” to my brand new “yo yo “gimmick called ” the Amish Stories double dip reverse slap your mama twice with sprinkles trick”. And if you pay me in ice cream ill give-up both the “yo yo” and the internet , ill just blow the million on something stupid anyway . Richard. http://www.Amishstorys.com

    16. Al in Ky.

      I’d be very willing to give up the internet at home, because I
      live in a city with an excellent library system, with many
      branch libraries. All have many computers with fast speed internet
      available for free public use for 1 to 2 hours per day. My home
      computer is slow, old and has dial up access, so I just save up
      things I want to look up on the internet and go to the library
      once or twice a week. I realize that many people in both rural
      and urban areas don’t have such good free computer access. When
      I go to the library to use the computer I sometimes think, “Isn’t
      this similar to some Amish going to their phone shack to use the
      phone?” I also think in our society we need something similar to
      the Amish ordnung that we use to discern about things like “How
      is all of this technology affecting our daily lives and where do
      we set our boundaries?”.
      On a similar note, I read in today’s Louisville Courier-Journal, page B6,that “this month Indiana joined a growing list of states that no longer require schools to teach cursive writing. Instead, Indiana will require schools to teach keyboarding in elementary schools.” I’m going to ask one of my Indiana Amish friends who is on his local Amish school board if Amish schools will be exempt from this.

    17. Alice Mary

      Cursive! Foiled again!

      Al in Ky, I’ll be interested to hear what your Amish friend on the Indiana Amish school board reports with regard to no longer teaching cursive in school. You might be interested in this: a few months ago, we had a woman (multiple degrees, assists law enforcement at “high levels” with handwriting analysis) do a handwriting analysis program at our library. She gives participants a sentence or two to copy down in cursive (she’ll then analyze it). She said that in the past couple of years, she’s been shocked when “young people” (young teens) don’t know what cursive IS! (Another lost art, I guess.) Hopefully the Amish will help keep cursive alive!

      It was a big deal to learn cursive in my old Catholic school—we learned with fountain pens (not ballpoints)—this was 1959-60-ish. Keyboarding just isn’t the same—where’s the personality? (Ahh, don’t get me started!)

      Alice Mary

      1. Mary Brandenburg

        Cursive...going, going, gone

        Alice Mary and Al in KY, I doubt that the Amish will have to give up the cursive instruction in their schools. Little of what they have in their schools is dictated by the English/public school DOE. The Amish don’t, as a rule (not saying this is true in every Amish school), have Science, History, Foreign Languages, etc. I would be very surprised if they stopped cursive instruction since it is by U.S. Mail that they do much of their communication.

    18. Eli

      Is that a million before or after taxes?

      I don’t know a lot about living off the interest from the large sums of money I (don’t) have, but if it could be done with a million, count me in. I’ll throw out the TV too.

      I sure would miss radio from the internet though.

      Does one have to forgo it altogether, or can you ask a friend to order those shoes for you that you can’t buy in town, and maybe download some radio shows on a flash drive while he’s at it 😉

      1. JP59

        Eli — Depending on your age and lifestyle, it would be very difficult to live solely on the income that could be generated by $1 million. (Not that it matters, but I enjoy kicking around topics like this.)

    19. Lindsay

      No, I definitely wouldn’t give up internet. I’m pretty net-positive…I met my husband online, and many friends who have have become friends with in real life, and have met other friends through them. My husband is able to keep abreast with his friends and family back in the UK, and the same with my friends in Nebraska. I’ve been exposed to new ideas, philosophies, and information I would have had a much harder time being exposed to otherwise (like Amish America!).

      With anything, too much can be bad. I’ve scaled back my facebook usage dramatically, and I rarely participate on internet forums these days. But like pretty much anything, moderation is the key.

    20. Angie

      I could give it up easily for no money, if it wasn’t for the online scrapbooking stores. I can get better deals on stuff (and a wider variety) by shopping online than by going to the closest scrap / craft stores. We’ve recently cut out tv and FB already and I deleted 3/4 of my bookmarked favourites list so my internet time is no where near what it used to be, but the crafty scene is my downfall 😉


      This may have been mentioned, but the readership of “Amish America” is probably fairly self-selecting for having an unusually high desire to simplify, so I’m thinking you’ll get a lot more “yes” answers in this room than elsewhere.

      Interesting points, though!

    22. Not on your life..

      Not a chance… To start with… a million bucks isnt much.. but the truth of the matter is that I am a knowledge lover… thats how I got coerced to get internet in my house in the first place.. I held out as long as I could but it was a great big pull at all that information at my fingertips.. I’ve been online for right at 21 years and I havent let go yet.. I probably never will..

      I’m 1200 & 2000 miles away from most of my family and all of my childhood/teen friends.. so having the internet has been a wonderful way to keep in touch and find a few (hundred!) folks I’d lost touch with.. I too met M’honey online, back when it wasnt “the thing” to do but we’ve been together pushing 19 years & are still going strong…

      I was going to say the same thing as Mary… I wouldnt be able to read Amish America if I had to give up internet… that’ll never happen.. 😛

      And Im with whomever it was that said they’d give up TV for a mil… I listen to it while Im online but its a rare day that I actually sit in front of a TV.. bores me to tears. 🙂