Saturday, January 3, 2015

Technology is the devil's folly.

Technology increases our efficiency, productivity and brings us closer as a people. At least that is what we are meant to believe. Like with every good lie there is some truth to that statement but in reality technology is nothing more than a brilliantly disguised tool of the devil. We are meant to believe that we are more efficient, more productive and closer as a people but closely examine your own life and you will find that this is not close to being true.

Let’s look at one piece of technology that none of us can live without – the telephone. Back when it became popular every house had one. It was found in a centralized location mounted to a wall or on the counter and you had as much mobility as far as you could stretch the two foot cord. The first innovation was to create a longer cord, some long enough that you could stretch them all the way into another room. Then we went cordless allowing the user free roam of the entire house.

When you wanted to talk to someone you called their house and hoped that they would answer. If they didn’t you hoped that someone else would so you could leave a message. Out of necessity the answering machine was invented so you would never miss a call again. Land lines gave way to cell phones so you could get a call no matter where you were. This was done all in the name of efficiency, productivity but mostly convenience.

When I entered the work force there were no such things as cell phones. I went to work, did my job and came home. Work was work - home was home. The two did not cross. Work had a phone in case there was an emergency but it hardly ever interrupted my work. Today I carry a cell phone for work and am accessible twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, even on Christmas Eve. I even can do all of my emails directly from my phone.  I never really leave work and if I leave my phone on my desk because I need a break I usually come back to a bunch of voice mails and texts from people worried something happened to me because I did not answer the first seventeen times they called. It has become easy for anyone to call me anytime for any reason no matter what I am doing.

But telephones have shrunk the world and brought us closer together. I no longer have to take a couple hours of my time and go visit my mother. I can now give her a quick five minute phone call once a month to let her know I care. How efficient is that? Even conversations are becoming things of the past.  I can type out a few words in a short sentence and send a text. I don’t even have to use words.  I can use emoticons and cute text abbreviation. RUOKJ?

We  have a world of people addicted to their phones, many of who could not function without them. Several people I know even carry two or three phones with them at all times. They are constantly jumping from one to the other. Try having a conversation with someone today that isn’t interrupted by a call or text message. We have become a distracted people. I sat at a red light one day as nine cars made a left hand turn in front of me. Out of the nine cars, seven of the people were either on a call or were trying to text while making the turn. It has gotten so bad that we even have to sadly announce before each Mass, “Out of respect of our liturgy please turn off all cell phones or set them to vibrate now.” And even then it is not a rare occurrence when someone’s goofy ringtone goes off in the middle of Mass. I was even present when a priest’s cell phone rang right at the end of the service.

A distracted people is exactly what the devil wants us to be. He wants us to pay attention to anything other than what is really important. He loves it when instead of actually visiting with family all we do is check out their Face Book page to see what’s new in their lives. He is tickled pink that the very things that were suppose to make out lives more efficient, productive and bring us closer together has filled our lives with so much noise that we don’t have the time for anything or anyone. I would volunteer at the soup kitchen but I just don’t have the time. Hey, I made it to Easter Mass what more do you expect? I know I was ten minutes late and complained about not finding a seat but I made it for communion. I would have stayed until the end but I had other places I had to be…

One of the best things a family can do is to eat an evening meal together. Very few families actually do this anymore. Our lives have become so efficient from the technology that no one has the time. Even when they do many times the family members sit in silence as they thumb away at a tiny keyboard on some electronic gizmo. Time and experiences are no longer shared. If I want to know how my daughter’s day went I have an easier time finding out by looking at Face Book.

In many ways I envy the Amish. They have their own issues but they still eat together as a family and gather as a community. Their focus is on work, family and prayer and not on what Miley Cyrus did today or who wore what where. I secretly hope that a massive solar flare comes one day and makes them the technologically superior people.

I am an engineer and a father of five in the modern world. I won’t be trading my cell phone for a horse and black hat anytime soon.  But I can recognize the hand of the devil at work and do my best to keep my priorities where they should be. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but if I did I would resolve to live the next year as simply as I could, actually caring for those around me and using the tools of the devil as little as possible.

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