“The Amish Project”: life without a cell phone, computer, social media

What happens when a college student walks away from modern life for 90 days?  Jake Reilly did that.  And what he found was a revelation:

In the end, having finished this whole thing, is your life different now or did you fall right back into old habits?

Reilly: It’s definitely different, but I catch myself doing exactly what I hated. Someone is talking to me and I’m half-listening and reading a text under the table. For me, it’s trying to be more aware of it. It kind of evolved from being about technology to more of just living in the moment. I think that’s what my biggest thing is: There’s not so much chasing for me now. I’m here now, and let’s just enjoy this. You can be comfortable with yourself and not have to go to the crutch of your phone. For me, that’s more what I will take away from this.

Do you have future projects planned?

Reilly: I keep telling everyone I should do another 90 days where I don’t speak to anyone in person and only communicate by internet or through technology, but that’s just a joke. It’s really changed my life. Like I said, I’m back with this girl. Everything’s a lot simpler. I’m more than happy that I did it.

What else did you learn?

Reilly: I think the letters were the coolest part and how people were really into it. I think I wrote 75 letters and nearly, I’d say, 85 percent came back with responses. Now all these people are responding to the video online. All the appreciation, I think the coolest part is that all these people really see this in themselves and wish that there was a different way and we weren’t so tied to all that stuff.

Let me ask you one more question about the letters. What’s the difference in the level of thought and feeling that you put into writing a letter compared to typing 140 characters?

Reilly: What we do now, on e-chat, is people just flying off with whatever comes to mind. It’s so much different to have it really thought-out. I’m a writer, so it’s time consuming. I think it takes 20 minutes or half an hour to write a letter and really get it the way I want it. I think it’s a better, purer way to communicate. People appreciate it so much more when you send them a handwritten letter or even a thank-you note showing that you’re taking the time to think about them.


With modern technology, texts and Facebook wall posts can serve as an attractive veneer making relationships seem more genuine than they really are. Conversely, social media can interfere with our most intimate real-life relationships. How many of your closest relationships would suffer if people had to invest more effort than sending a text to stay in touch? How much better could your relationship with your significant other be if you could give your partner your full attention whenever you’re together? There’s one way to find out, if you dare.

Read it all. And check out the video below of his experience.

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