In today's episode on RH TV the term "simpler life" appears a couple of times during Joe's interview with Mrs. Glenda Lehmann Ervin. While we probably all understand what is really meant, we should be aware that the term is misleading. What is simpler - buying bread in the store or baking it yourself, throwing clothes in the washing-machine and then dryer or washing them by hand, putting them on the clothes line and ironing them , to give just two domestic examples? Same goes for many outside activities, what's simpler, mowing with a mower or a scythe, heating the house by turning on the thermostat or heating with wood? I can easily show that the skills on the individual level had to be much higher when we were not so dependent on purchased items and that therefore people had a much greater level of self-sufficiency and independence. That is probably what more people would like to have again when they look for a 'simpler life', which was neither easy nor simple.
Today we have a very complicated system (as opposed to the 'simple life' of yesteryore) , in which it takes the actions of many different entities to provide us with the amenities we enjoy, which make life much easier in many ways, but also much more vulnerable to disruptions. Think about traffic in snow storms when horses moved everything compared to the snarls , even standstill we experience today. Horses were slowed down, but not immobilized. Even scarier is our dependence on electricity: Imagine not having it for a longer period of time, maybe over large swaths of the country, as multiple hackers are trying to break into our systems every day. Experts say it is not a question of 'if', but only of 'when'. Pandemonium would (will) ensue and the lives of many millions would be uprooted, in many cases ended.
And while we certainly have great benefits from technological progress, many dangers are lurking just around the corner.
That probably also explains the longing for a 'simpler life', the knowledge that there was a time during which at least the average household was not so dependent on other parts of the economy.
I myself have over the years bought several items from Lehmann's and am getting their catalogues every year.