The Idolatry of Modern Technology

Modern Technology

Because I’ve kept a journal since 1978, I’ve developed a love for slowing down and reflecting upon my life as it unfolds. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been noticing lately how the internet, cell phones, texting, and the ever-increasing high-speed communication devices in my life are insidiously conditioning my consciousness into believing all of life must happen quickly!

My sometimes obsessive relationship with the internet, e-mail, instant-messaging, et al. is having the effect of making me more impatient with things in life that require time.

Now, add coffee to the equation, and I start to walk from Starbucks to my apartment missing out on the beauty of freshly rained morning air, trees swaying as if to get my attention, birds starting to sing more because its spring, and the beauty of the natural world.

I’ve become too stuck in my head’s thoughts, impatiently rushing back to check my e-mail and Facebook page. Once I check those items, then I check my land-line voice-mail, cell phone voice-mail, news on the internet, my YouTube channel, and from there, I can start to get so sucked into the internet, I feel like Alice falling into a rabbit hole.

After I’ve checked out all of my internet and high tech communication devices, I find myself re-checking my e-mail and Facebook page just one more time. Then, I find myself checking it over and over throughout the day. I have to catch myself and pull myself away from the Sirens of high-tech! I have to force myself to go out to the pool courtyard, write with a low-tech pen in my journal, take a walk, or actually physically work on preparing lunch, gardening, or my vocational tasks, which, in my case as a professional clown and entertainer, means, practicing magic, juggling, ukulele, etc.

Now, I’m not saying that high-tech communication is something to be eschewed, but I am saying, for me, I need to use it as a tool instead of allowing it to have mastery over me! When I get too much into the fascinating world of high-speed communications, I allow something mundane to become inappropriately transcendent! I allow high-tech to become idolatrous at the expense of my contentment and humanity.

The Romantic Poet, William Wordsworth has an enlightening poem on this modern matter and he wrote in in 1807! (Hint: Read this poem slowly to really get it)–

The World Is Too Much with Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Little we see in Nature that is ours,
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—-Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

It didn’t take me a nano second to reflect on these thoughts and create this writing; it took me all morning! I didn’t “shoot” it out like a quick text message, I pondered and first wrote down my initial ideas with pen and paper by the pool. Then, I consulted my Norton Anthology of Literature, ate some oatmeal and thought about it some more.

All this high-speed communication can’t speed up such things. Can a plant grow fast? Can a baby grow into a child fast? Can a new love transform into a long-lasting marriage fast? Can one notice the nuances of beauty without dwelling in it for some time?

When I go to Foothills Park in Palo Alto, it takes me about two hours before I really start to settle down, relax and actually appreciate that I am surrounded by grand Oak trees, Lake Boronda, hawks, little blue butterflies alighting on the first California Poppy blossoms hiding in the lush green hillsides from our recent spring rains… My obsessions with the internet pull me away from life, beauty, the natural world.

As Wordsworth said, “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” This is why I have to write this article. I need to reaffirm what’s more important or I will miss it all. Of course, my fear is that I’ll fall behind the rest of the world, fail at business, lose touch with my friends and won’t be a part of society and experience the remnant love and contact that seems to be more and more relegated to text messaging.

Does anyone answer their land lines and talk on the phone anymore? Does anyone sit and visit for hours and read great books. I’m on page 400 of Don Quixote and there’s 944 pages in total. Does anyone discuss poetry and literature and listen to music to really hear it? I haven’t had TV for 12 years and sometimes I miss out on small talk about American Idol with friends, but I’ve read lots of novels in all that time and its made me a richer person because of it.

I still watch movies and such, but there’s already so many high-tech gadget distractions out there, why do I need 500 channels of mostly garbage to further take me away from real life in the here and now? Ok, so maybe I’ll be left behind if I’m not gung ho with high tech computer life, or, maybe I can “be the change I want to see” as Ghandi said. Anybody want to meet for coffee and discuss page 401 of Don Quixote?

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