Modern Love and Church on Time
The concept of modern is what people call whatever unfolds during their existence on the planet. Modern, if used in the geologic sense, might mean a million years ago. Huh.
If I think about the year I graduated from high school, 1976, kids in high school today roll their eyes and grunt. That is if they can somehow pull their heads up from their phones. So then, is the modern era now defined by technology? Are the phenomena of head down on phone the same as, say, the time following Henry Ford’s assembly line revolution and the Model T? Maybe, who can know? As I have said many times, some things cannot be known.
This is the kind of talk that conjures up the image of now, the present and the stuff we see around us and call reality. Yeah, I know, weird. But, if we toss aside all the little “now” bullshit, I think we may all agree that some things are indeed timeless. From the human perspective, one of those things is our need to relate one to the other. In order to relate, we have to have what we call relationships. So, if we have this basic need for relationships, one to the other, what then must be present? I would say we might need to actually know each other. Boom, big idea.
This is where you put that fucking phone down, pay attention. Verizon cannot console you nor cook you breakfast. While the “modern” technology has done many things it has not improved our interpersonal relationships. The device in your pocket has not helped you to understand either yourself or your neighbor. In fact, technology has made it more difficult to communicate on the basic human level that we can all understand. You see, understanding, or at least tolerance, is critical for us humans. I can’t speak for animals but I think Henry Nueman might agree (Henry Nueman is my dog, or at least he is a dog).
We have this basic need to feel like we belong, familiar to each other in some fundamental way. You walk into a room full of strangers, that thousand-dollar IPhone will not make you feel warm and cuddly. Sure, you can stare down at it for a bit, but it isn’t the same as a smile and a hug now is it? That plastic and whatever else it is made of will not help you feel safe and secure, plain fact. That device, in my opinion, has done nothing more than increases our feeling of isolation and alienation. Tell me I’m wrong.
Of course, the elephant in the room I am really speaking about is the Internet. The World Wide Web. At the mere touch of your finger, you have more information at your command than at any other time in our known history. There may be other histories we don’t know about. Goggle that. But, that has not resulted in deeper understanding nor has it increased our knowledge in the most basic sense. In fact, my take away is that technology has actually exhibited the limits of information. The knowing of information, of facts, doesn’t really mean shit. The knowing of this or that does not improve your life beyond the very limited aspect of application. So then, we could say that knowledge is limited. In contrast, as Albert said, while intelligence is limited, imagination is unlimited. If you don’t believe that, wait until it’s dark and go outside and look up at the sky. No, you can’t Google that from your chair.
Now, going back to this idea of humans and relationships, we can Google the research and what not that tells us that humans need contact and touch. To touch something you have to have proximity. That very special child of the Internet, email, does not give you proximity to shit. As I have very cleverly said, email is nothing but a tool and not a very effective one at that. Oh sure, you can convey ideas and information quickly and at great reach. But, since when has speeding stuff up fundamentally improved human life? That’s an idea you can quickly (yes, I intended that) rip apart and exhibit contradictions. But, you also know what I mean. Speeding stuff up does not improve your life. I think Gandhi said that, look on the Internet.
Walt Disney didn’t have a phone in his pocket but he had imagination. Imagination is limitless. You are limitless. The reliance on technology as we now employ it throughout our lives is very limiting. Sure, it does have uses but only as a tool. Again, the Internet is nothing more than a tool, it is not a lifestyle. You don’t have to crush MIT to know that. In fact, you know everything you need to know already, it’s just we don’t remember. Now, that is another weird notion that we’ll save for another time. This is Internet bashing time right now.
Another thing that technology does is dehumanizing our interactions and us. As I have already said, we don’t need more isolation and alienation. Just look at the chronic nature of affective disorders, like depression, that were not seen as chronic until the last few decades. This opens up another rant about Big Pharma and the cult of personality. Let’s save for later too, thank God.
Our lives are a collection of moments, some good and some not so good. The wisdom teaching is that all that exists is the present moment, the now. You can get more stuff but you cannot get more time. This brings up the concept of value. There is a big difference between things that are important and things that are popular. The reliance on the Internet and its’ offspring, like email, highlights that which is popular but not necessarily important. Just look at the Bravo Channel and tell me I’m wrong. Shit, Bruce Jenner is a girl and there are people who spend their time screaming about personal pronouns. These are the things that are truly beyond understanding.
Each moment we have is singular and monumental. You can waste it, or not. Here we go with the idea of value again. If our moments, our time, is that which is most valuable, then it would seem reasonable to think about how we use it. Kind of like thinking about spending and investing. You cannot do both. Think about that. An obvious example would be the Bravo Channel, (I love bashing the Bravo Channel, mainly because it’s so easy). If you watch the Bravo Channel, is that a spending event or a wise investment of your time? Call me old fashioned but watching shallow people doing dumb shit is not enriching. It might be mildly humorous but it is not going to solve any real human problem you might have. Wait, it could possibly postpone facing some seriously bad shit and there may be a little value in that, but that’s a stretch and that’s it.
So, I suppose my point is to value the things in your life that actually have value. Hug your spouse, love your kids, love you neighbor and think about your footprint. Leave the world a bit better. I think it was my hero, Ralph Waldo, who said “a bit better, whether by a garden patch, a healthy child or an improved social condition”. I can’t improve on that, but maybe you can. Put the phone down and give someone you love the greatest gift you can, your attention.