Monday, August 12, 2013
What do we gain from our efforts to reach the heavens? Is there a limit to our desire to be satisfied? asks a religious sister with a back ground in media studies and spirituality. She ponders these questions and others, as she reflects, in a recent issue of the Kyeongyang magazine, on the tower-of-Babel-world of digital science.
In scripture (Genesis 11:3) we are told about the tower's construction: "Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire. They used bricks for stone and bitumen for mortar." She compare our use of the computer and smart phones to the centuries-old use of bricks, and our mobile data communications to the use of mortar, while the SNS networks are busy spreading the word to the rest of the world. Results are not always positive, she points out; they may aggravate some of the more prevalent maladies of our times, such as depression, attention deficit disorders, overwork and burn out.
A sign of the times may be our lack of patience, as we attempt to accomplish more than we comfortably can. She mentioned going on a ride with an acquaintance who had two navigation systems working in the car. Not only was he following both systems but was talking to the sister at the same time. She tells us of those who find the speed of the movies, dramas and programs that some watch on TV too slow, so they download from the TV, edit them to taste, and then watch the movie or drama or whatever at their own speed, cutting out the parts they find boring.
And children appear to be no different; they have no difficulty speaking while doing their homework, to cite just one example. And there are people who see nothing wrong or unusual about using the smart phone while they continue conversing with the person beside them. We have become, she says, multitasking people. However, she tells us this may be an addiction disorder. It may not be simply an unwillingness or inability to do one task at a time, but may result from the release of adrenaline-like hormones damaging our thinking processes. Which makes it imperative, she says, to give ourselves entirely to what we are doing.
Digital technology can often make our lives easier, more pleasurable, more satisfying than our present reality, as we get into the habit of looking for the "more" in life, for the satisfaction of the moment. And so the smartphone tends to be with us nearly all the time. It may in fact be the first thing one looks for in the morning, she says, and the last thing one sees before going to bed.
Let us not, she concludes, seek only to make our name known (Gen. 11-4), as we try to navigate prudently this newest digital tower of Babel. She asks us to be free of this ambition and to spend more time relating with those we come in contact with every day and with our natural environment. Even though the present reality is not perfect, we can find the key to happiness, she says, by taking leave of the digital world occasionally and living in the present moment completely.