Growing up, I never had an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or a watch that could make telephone calls. I had little green army men, tons of rubber bands, and grass-stained jeans. I would spend hours outside in the Summer doing…well, everything. I could make an adventure out of anything. If I found a stick and some rocks, I was entertained for hours. With a football, and no one else around, I could win Super Bowls. Late night basketball sessions were a staple in my high school years. I would always make the winning shot to end the championship game. Oh, and if I missed, well, that meant I got fouled and went to the free throw line to decide the outcome. I would walk into the house at night a complete sweaty, dirty, and often bruised-and-banged-up mess. It was awesome.
Technology has radically changed our lives. The question is, has it changed for better, or for worse?
I love technology. My wife can attest to that. I always get the latest Windows version, iOS version, and when possible, the newest phone. When I update the software on her laptop, she can’t stand it. She doesn’t like to learn something new when she’s been using the same thing for so long. If I even mentioned installing Windows 8 on the laptop right now, I would probably get punched in the face. (Side note: I’m not a huge fan of Windows 8, but have found a way to make it work like Windows 7. Google “Classic Shell”. Install that, and you can thank me later.)
When I wasn’t out enjoying nature, I was reading books. Lots and lots of books. I would read the same ones over and over. I found myself becoming a character in the stories, and my imagination took me places technology never could. It wasn’t unusual for me to start a book right before bed and not put it down until I had completely read every page.
When was the last time you opened your mailbox and there was a hand written letter waiting for you? Social media has taken the place of all communication among humans. Tweet this. Like that. Pin it. Comment here. Poke. Share. Link. Update. Post. Repeat.
Just recently, I was accused of being hateful just because I un-friended someone on Facebook. Come on. Hate is a pretty strong word. When did we become so invested in social media that it completely rules our lives? Or, why has it taken the place of real life? I’ve gone back and forth on using social media. I’ll have some of those apps on my phone for a while, then I just get tired of them, and delete. I hardly get on Facebook anymore. I rarely even scroll through the news feed. I check for any notifications, maybe post something now and then, but that’s about it.
Social media isn’t real life.
Talking to someone face to face. Shaking hands in a parking lot. Saying “I love you” as you put your arms around someone who is hurting. That’s real life. Those are the interactions that now seem strange, when they used to be all we could do.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying social media and technology are of the devil. Not at all. They both offer us opportunities we could never have dreamed about years ago. The problem comes in when we substitute those for reality.
This post reminded me of some lyrics I wrote back in 2003. I’ll leave you with those.
What Have We Done
The country’s on the brink of war again
We’ve got people getting out of jail
Before they’ve paid for all their sins
We have children killing children
It’s not safe to go to school
Since when is it ok to break the rules
I remember when a man’s word was his bond
Those days seem to be long gone
It’s getting hard to find the good in us
What happened to the phrase “In God We Trust”
You could walk down to the country store
And get a Coke for just five cents
The dream was living in a big house
With a little white picket fence
Now there’s bars on all the windows
You have to go out and buy a gun
It’s no place to raise our children
What have we done
Traffic’s backed up on the interstate
You got horns blowing, people yelling
Cause they just don’t want to wait
Little league game on a summer night
The kids can’t have any fun
Cause their parents just want to fight
A death row inmate watches time go by
In just three hours this man will have to die
His lawyer comes in says things have changed
I pulled some strings, now they think you’re insane