My generation is one of the last generations who can remember life without all the technology. And what a contrast we see! Now we have a generation or two who were born right in the middle of it all, and they can’t imagine living life unplugged … how could a person function without their phone and internet? Impossible!
Just open up the internet and the world is at your fingertips: videos, movies, social media, music, games … and when we’re not enjoying what other folks have published on the world wide web, we can publish our own for them to enjoy. Every individual is the audience and the star! Who would’ve ever thunk?
And I’m not one of those older folks who constantly moans about the quieter, simpler times. Well … perhaps just a little …
I haven’t totally embraced every gadget and gizmo. And all this technology surely does update faster than I can keep up. I’m one of only five people left on the planet who don’t use their cell phone for email. I don’t let robots vacuum my house or turn on lights and lock doors, and I’d still rather turn a dial than tell my car to increase the volume on the radio. I don’t think I’ll enjoy talking to machines, though I know it’s just a matter of time until I’m doing that, too.
But honestly … I think it’s all way cool and I feel so blessed that I got to live at a time when it all began. But I’m not oblivious to the danger signs I see ...
I grew up in a time when there were fewer fast food restaurants and most meals were cooked from scratch at home. Today, the few meals that get eaten at home come out of boxes and are full of preservatives and who knows what else. And our collective health has suffered for it.
I see the same thing at work with what we feed our minds.
We always knew that plopping down in front of the appropriately named “boob tube” for a few hours every night wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world. But we did it anyway, because it was fun and it was mindless, a great way to unwind at the end of the day.
Today the boob tube that only had 3 channels and went off air at midnight has evolved into a dizzying array of channels, programs, movies, videos, music … all available 24/7. It used to take 5-6 months to watch a whole season of a TV show. Today you can binge watch that whole season over a weekend!
So I see all this happening and my old person instincts kick in … and I catch myself. Because doesn’t it happen with every generation? The youngsters come of age and start doing things differently, and the older ones begin to lecture and warn and recall about the good old days … I don’t want to do that.
But then I run across articles here and there about what folks are experiencing these days ... particularly about the level of loneliness and isolation many people are experiencing. Expected among the elderly, but now it seems to be affecting younger adults.
It seems that despite all the technology, the constant contact with everyone in our accessible and shrinking world, people are less connected. Many of us talk through our machines, with little actual face-to-face encounters, and the content of conversations is necessarily brief and lacking in depth. As a result we’re losing social skills and many of the connections we do have are shallow and weak.
I was running across articles like this way before the pandemic hit. And a year’s worth of lockdowns have only made the situation worse.
I think the technology is great.
I also think the implications of 24/7 access to “amusement” are alarming. Whether we are living in caves or traveling the galaxy, let’s not forget that we are still us, and we were created for relationship with our Creator and with each other. Let’s not let our gadgets, gizmos and technology – no matter how useful or fun – to interfere with that.
Despite all my hopefully inspiring blabber about the importance of books and reading, most of what our children learn is caught and not taught … so let's begin with us, and show them the way.