The idea is not original to me, but it resonates deeply, and I am curious to see how it plays itself out in the coming years. Since scientific discovery and technological progress will likely not decline or go away any time soon, I believe we will be required to develop a new trait. Call it a skill, or character quality, or learned behavior, but the need to push ourselves away from the screen is going to be as vital as knowing when to stop eating when we are full.
I would simply call it technological discretion.
Technology, like food, is consumptive by nature. It exists to be utilized, taken advantage of, with the end result in maintaining a satisfactory life. We have come to rely and be dependent on technology in such a way that our current lifestyle will not be sustainable without it.
Some would argue that this is part of our social problem. We are too dependent on computers and electronic devices and need to return to a simpler, more organic way of living. And while I would affirm that there is a pastoral bliss associated with an agrarian era, we’re not going to all be milking cows in our backyard any time soon.
The Amish are Amish for a reason. They live by that sword and thus they will die by that same sword. You don’t want electricity? Fine. But when it comes down to treating an ailing loved one by choosing between an herbal treatment or surgery that requires electricity, then you’ve created an inconsistent worldview if you reach for the later out of desperation.
My point is; there are certain amounts of technologies and energies that we are not going to get away from. As much as I may dislike what the Internet has done to a new generation, it’s also ushered in some unbelievably amazing changes to how we live and access information. If I’m going to take the good, I’ve got to be willing to deal with the bad.
And we can learn this lesson by how we eat.
Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for the soul. If at any time we reverse the direction of that logic, we end up in addiction, because we are letting food drive our choices, and not from the innermost being. Without the ability to tell the stomach “no,” we open the path to gluttony, and introduce a whole new set of health problems along the way.
In the same way, without the fortitude to wrangle technology and keep it corralled, it, too, can take over control.
I’m intrigued at how marketers are now selling the smartphone technology. They are making us believe that those few minutes of standing in line at the DMV would be much better utilized if you took that time, not to watch the interesting people that collect at the DMV, but to bury your head in an app that will fritter that time away by watching a video of a guy making a fool of himself on YouTube.
One technological boundary I have put around my restaurant is making it a NO TV dining zone. Am I saying that there is anything wrong with TV’s? No, I am instead saying that when out on a date with my wife, it’s a whole lot easier to stay focused on her if I don’t have a 47” plasma flat screen behind her head keeping me updated on whether or not Brett Favre is going to come back to the Vikings. It solves a lot of problems by not having to contend with it.
Just like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, I wonder if in the future we will see companies called Screen Diet or Unplugged, Inc. to assist your technological discretion?