Saturday, April 8, 2017
My friends, we are in the era of the fingertips. Do you need food? There are apps you can use to go grocery shopping, or to have your food delivered. Need some booze? Never fear, you can have your 3rd 30 pack delivered as well. Want to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza? Sure! Don one of those virtual reality headsets, and you’re there.
Every move you make online is tracked and stored somewhere in some warehouse where some poor schmuck has to work every other Saturday night to monitor the equipment until some media corporation deems the information useful for its next campaign and slogs through the smallest fraction of it 15 years from now. Even this post is being tracked right now. I can see how many people have viewed it, when those peaks were, and there are even some random tidbits the site provides me that I can’t make any sense of. My point is, I know there are many resources that make life so convenient, so fast-moving, so isolating, so public, so — wait a minute. These are supposed to be positive adjectives.
On Valentine’s day this year, I saw a couple at dinner at an adorable little restaurant – the kind that only makes lasagna with squash, instead of with carbohydrates like the rest of our grandmothers – you know the type. Anyway, this couple sat there for at least an hour and I don’t think either of them set their phones down even to order. I couldn’t understand why you’d venture out if you can’t be bothered to be present mentally.
Now, let me pause to acknowledge that I too am guilty of littering the interwebs with my own thoughts and images. I am constantly using Google to win arguments with my friends, to seek answers to questions I’m too embarrassed to utter aloud, and to find images of Betty White up to her usual antics. I am so thankful for the technology we have today because I’ll be the first to admit that sorting through 15 volumes of encyclopedias for a 4th grade research paper isn’t the most practical approach, or the most useful application of our time. But I do think we should treat our technology as a resource – not as a lifeline.
What if instead of Googling how to do build a desk, you signed up for a how-to session at the nearest Lowe’s? Or if you hung out with your father one afternoon to learn how to change your oil instead of Googling it or paying someone else to? Think of the relationships you could foster if you spent a month working alongside the human resources at your disposal instead of Googling everything. How rich in experiences would that be? Next time you go to whip out your phone and strain your eyes against that blue glow, resist for a moment and think about whether it’s really worth the exchange.
Tldr; Look up.