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Monday, September 12, 2011

Anno Domini


I wondered what that meant for years before finally taking the time to find out what it meant.  Seems silly now, in the age of google searches to have waited so long.  In this day and age there are so many distractions, innumerable really, keeping us from seeing the little things in life.  We are too distracted to sit down and thoroughly study a subject, and too distracted to have a decent conversation with a friend, or neighbor, or even a family member.

What went wrong?  What are we thinking?  Technology is supposed to have given us MORE time for just that sort of thing - interpersonal relationships.

In a sense, perhaps it has?  When I watch my kids with their cell phones, texting blithely away, and at a blinding speed, I think that here is a benefit from technology.  But then again... is it really a benefit?  I wonder...

Writing a letter by hand, with a pen or pencil, is something that largely NEVER transpires via my efforts. How's YOUR handwriting doing these days?  Is it, like my own, becoming almost unreadable?  I have marveled recently at the incredible lack of quality that my children's handwriting shows.  It almost looks like the writing of a third-grader issuing from the tip of the pencil wielded by my 16-year-old.

Is writing becoming a thing of the past?  So many other things that my generation, and those before me, took for granted have become almost rarities, almost freak-show items.  Brought to mind are things like splitting wood, using a chainsaw, a bow saw, raising livestock, playing boardgames, hiking in the woods, sharpening a knife or axe, fishing, hunting, trapping, farming, sitting around a campfire, reading books, and a host of other things that were NORMAL just a couple of decades ago.

My question is, are we really better off, now that we have all this technology?  Are we better off sitting in front of our "entertainment systems" than we were chasing a family dog in the yard who was trying to keep us from getting a stick from him?

Yesterday, my brother, visiting from Michigan, walked into our house from outside to see one of my kids playing "Call of Duty, Black Ops", or some such.  He is a guy who tries hard to keep from being sucked into the black hole, and not giving in to technology.  He said to the kid, "Since you like playing that sort of thing so much, perhaps you should plan on making that your actual career - becoming a real black ops soldier.  That way you could really kill people.  The thrill would be that much more!" Of course, he was being facetious, but the point is that what my kids have been doing is almost exactly the same as the way that our military managed to overcome a new soldier's natural tendency to NOT shoot at a human target - they used software to break that natural tendency down.  The thinking is that since it is not a "real" person in the computer game, it's okay to kill them, and even better to kill them with a headshot.  The military found that after becoming accustomed to killing computer simulation soldiers, it was much easier to make the leap to killing real soldiers.  The young soldier felt like he was still IN the computer game, and killed with abandon.

Hmm. Maybe we need to get back to simpler living? Maybe our kids are not BENEFITING from spending countless hours killing things on computer screens, but would be better off walking through a meadow, swimming in a pond, hiking in the mountains, doing what comes naturally?



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