Technology rules,

but it doesn’t rule me! 

I try to use only my original material on this blog, but this was too good not to pass along. I hope you’ll take the time to read past the first five paragraphs (the scolding) to the real message.   Happy (disconnected) Saturday!

Tweet Less, Kiss More

By BOB HERBERT
Published: July 16, 2010, The New York Times

I was driving from Washington to New York one afternoon on Interstate 95 when a car came zooming up behind me, really flying. I could see in the rearview mirror that the driver was talking on her cellphone.

Bob Herbert

I was about to move to the center lane to get out of her way when she suddenly swerved into that lane herself to pass me on the right — still chatting away. She continued moving dangerously from one lane to another as she sped up the highway.

A few days later, I was talking to a guy who commutes every day between New York and New Jersey. He props up his laptop on the front seat so he can watch DVDs while he’s driving.

“I only do it in traffic,” he said. “It’s no big deal.”

Beyond the obvious safety issues, why does anyone want, or need, to be talking constantly on the phone or watching movies (or texting) while driving? I hate to sound so 20th century, but what’s wrong with just listening to the radio? The blessed wonders of technology are overwhelming us. We don’t control them; they control us.

We’ve got cellphones and BlackBerrys and Kindles and iPads, and we’re e-mailing and text-messaging and chatting and tweeting — I used to call it Twittering until I was corrected by high school kids who patiently explained to me, as if I were the village idiot, that the correct term is tweeting. Twittering, tweeting — whatever it is, it sounds like a nervous disorder.

This is all part of what I think is one of the weirder aspects of our culture: a heightened freneticism that seems to demand that we be doing, at a minimum, two or three things every single moment of every hour that we’re awake. Why is multitasking considered an admirable talent? We could just as easily think of it as a neurotic inability to concentrate for more than three seconds.

Why do we have to check our e-mail so many times a day, or keep our ears constantly attached, as if with Krazy Glue, to our cellphones? When you watch the news on cable television, there are often additional stories being scrolled across the bottom of the screen, stock market results blinking on the right of the screen, and promos for upcoming features on the left. These extras often block significant parts of the main item we’re supposed to be watching.

A friend of mine told me about an engagement party that she had attended. She said it was lovely: a delicious lunch and plenty of Champagne toasts. But all the guests had their cellphones on the luncheon tables and had text-messaged their way through the entire event.

Enough already with this hyperactive behavior, this techno-tyranny and nonstop freneticism. We need to slow down and take a deep breath.

I’m not opposed to the remarkable technological advances of the past several years. I don’t want to go back to typewriters and carbon paper and yellowing clips from the newspaper morgue. I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes.

Let’s put down at least some of these gadgets and spend a little time just being ourselves. One of the essential problems of our society is that we have a tendency, amid all the craziness that surrounds us, to lose sight of what is truly human in ourselves, and that includes our own individual needs — those very special, mostly nonmaterial things that would fulfill us, give meaning to our lives, enlarge us, and enable us to more easily embrace those around us.

There’s a character in the August Wilson play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” who says everyone has a song inside of him or her, and that you lose sight of that song at your peril. If you get out of touch with your song, forget how to sing it, you’re bound to end up frustrated and dissatisfied.

As this character says, recalling a time when he was out of touch with his own song, “Something wasn’t making my heart smooth and easy.”

I don’t think we can stay in touch with our song by constantly Twittering or tweeting, or thumbing out messages on our BlackBerrys, or piling up virtual friends on Facebook.

We need to reduce the speed limits of our lives. We need to savor the trip. Leave the cellphone at home every once in awhile. Try kissing more and tweeting less. And stop talking so much.

Listen.

Other people have something to say, too. And when they don’t, that glorious silence that you hear will have more to say to you than you ever imagined. That is when you will begin to hear your song. That’s when your best thoughts take hold, and you become really you.

5 comments:

  1. I completely agree. Actually I am quite passionate on a few things. I rarely use my cell phone, and I mean rarely. Three quarters of the time I leave it at home unless I'm meeting someone. I don't Face Book and refuse to Tweet. A few words describing what I'm doing at a particular moment in my life couldn't possibly be of interest to anyone and if I'm reading about theirs then I'm not living my mine. The electricity went out this week for 10 minutes at the most and my 19 y/o who was watching TV came upstairs and said, "Now what do I do?" Read was my answer. Go water the garden. He looked like he had no purpose in life because he couldn't use the computer either. Sometimes I long for the day when we didn't have answering machines knowing if someone really wanted to talk with us they'd call back if we were out. As quick as we are to 'get back' to someone so much can be said and done in haste. I truly believe some technology is slowly eroding what could be deep and lasting relationships once made face to face and keeping it all on the surface. But hey, that's just me. :) xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad it's not just me! I really thought the author hit the nail on the head when he said this technology is controlling us--I do see it in my kids, and it is bothersome! After two weeks in the rugged New Mexico backcountry, our son wanted nothing more than to check his facebook! Arrrrgh.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, how I loved this post!!! Thank you so much for bringing this article to our attention. At times I really think that I am the only one who feels this way, I like to be reminded that I am not alone!
    Hope you are having a marvelous weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  4. well said! it worries me that young
    and old have become addicted to being
    constantly attached.

    how will they ever know to daydream
    or think if they are forever in contact
    with each other?

    and the danger in traffic!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for posting this. I definitely feel like technology really does control us. I sometimes feel like less and less of my life is truly my own because now work can keep the electronic leash on me and reach me anytime. Sometimes I just don't want to be reachable.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment! I love hearing your thoughts.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Please share!