Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories … into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing.” -The New Republic                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle – family farming, canning, crafting, can, without sacrificing feminism’s hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when ‘people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.’” - ELLE                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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Would you rather have no internet?

Lynne Norledge's wifi-free coffee & flower shop. Image via the Daily Mail.

Part of New Domesticity seems to be the desire for simpler, slower living in a high-tech, fast-paced world. Normally I wouldn’t link to the Daily Mail (though I read it every day during lunch, a guilty pleasure), but today they have an interesting profile of three women who are trying to live this more switched-off lifestyle. One has even made her (nostalgic, vintage-decorated) bakery cafe a no-wifi zone, which is apparently a growing trend.

I accept constant connectedness as part of modern life, and normally I’m quite happy to be able to check my email in line at the bank or play Angry Birds on the bus. I’m definitely in the “I don’t know how I ever lived without my iPhone” camp. I don’t think I could ever choose to switch off voluntarily. But, when faced with the occasional forced bout of disconnectedness, I find it has its surprising pleasures.

Three years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) and I went on a three-week road trip through the Australian Outback, our last hurrah after half of year of living in Sydney for his studies. The Outback is one of the ever-shrinking number of places on earth where phone signals are literally impossible to come by, so checking email was a once-every-three-days occurrence, usually in the public library of some dusty mining town in the back of beyond. I found myself quickly losing that “itchy mouse finger” sensation, the feeling that I NEEDED to know what was going on NOW. By the end of the trip, I found myself dreading going back to internet-land, where everything seemed so urgent all the time.

I miss that trip.

On the one hand, New Domesticity relies a lot on constant connectedness – blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, etc. – yet rejects the ethos of fast-paced, high-tech living. I totally get this paradox. I need and love the internet, yet sometimes I feel like it’s driving me out of my mind.

Do you ever feel the need to quit the internet?

3 comments to Would you rather have no internet?

  • f1ower

    constantly. I only use the internet at work. I don’t have time at home and if my bf weren’t home so much and using it, I wouldn’t have it at my house at all.

  • I spend a LOT of time on the internet. It’s where my friends are, It’s where I get news and entertainment, and it’s where I write and share pictures.

    I went out of town twice this summer, and even though internet was available in both places I visited I deliberately did not take my own laptop. This meant I could spend a few minutes a day *just checking* but I couldn’t be tempted to loaf around on a sofa all day online. What I ended up doing was loafing around on sofas all day reading books, which was really nice! Not only did I enjoy having very restricted screen time, but I also really enjoyed coming home and indulging in a glut of STUFF.I don’t have internet on my phone, but then again if I were to go to a cafe it would be to socialize so I wouldn’t care if they had wifi or not. Having said that, if they were being all smug about it I might prefer to go somewhere else…

  • I do feel a desire, more often as of late, to disconnect and see the world around me. I’ve found recently, as I’m switching jobs and having a bit more free time to play around with, that I’m using that time to read more blogs that showcase a life that doesn’t mirror my own, when I do this for an extended period of time I’ll notice a significant shift in my mood and thinking. I think being so connected in our world is AWESOME, people have access to just about every kind of knowledge they could ever need and we can learn anything, almost ANYTHING with the click of a mouse. However, that constant connectedness fosters a sense of malaise for me. When i’m not connected I find it hard to concentrate on one thing and I find that i’m falling into a very deep bout of ennui. I think we have to pay attention to our online consumption to a certain extent, allowing ourselves time to sit back on the couch and read and see the sun every now and again.

    I admire the decision these people have made to disconnect purposefully. I think it will help them to appreciate parts of life that we neglect in our tunnel of internet viewing. As for totally disconnect? No way, I wouldn’t have intelligent conversations with you people as often :D but I would like to take a cue from their move away from complete connectivity and make more of an effort to step way from the keyboard and do something more focused for while! Thanks for sharing!