Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prisoners Of Our Own Device

  This Throwback was first published as part of the Sunday Snippets post from September 21st, 2014.


September beach-wear in Maine
I'd like to start with a little jaunt we made last weekend, a late-summer (nearly fall) visit to the beach.  The high temperatures for the day didn’t get above the mid 60’s, so we wore jackets and kept our shoes on, and just walked and enjoyed the views (no selfies of my feet in the surf this time).  Most other beach-goers were dressed for the weather as we were, but a few defiant souls were there in swimsuits, either stretched out on the beach or even, in the case of the most intrepid, wading a little into the water.  One of my sons remarked that there were two factions at the beach that day: those who were in denial and those who were not.
     Among the deniers there was one young girl dressed in a swimsuit, maybe twelve years old, who was venturing into the surf . . . holding a smart phone in her hand.  It was a most incongruous image.  Twenty minutes later I saw her again, a little further down the beach, still clutching her little electronic gadget.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised: I’ve seen the videos of people walking into walls, fountains, etc., in public places with their eyes glued to little screens, I’ve seen with my own eyes my fellow motorists going down the highway at 70 miles per hour with their eyes down and their thumbs bouncing off their devices, and I’ve heard about the often fatal accidents caused by such people. 
     I couldn't help but think of that poor techno-crazed girl when I read this article [here] in Catholic World Report about "Casualities of the Device Age".  The author, Thomas Doran, explains that, while the little gadgets have many useful aspects, the widespread addiction to them contributes "to a decline in the ability to reason, contemplation, and self-discipline."  Having taught high school students for twenty-eight years, I can testify to the truth of Doran's observations.  I would also add that enslavement to these little electronic tyrants, because they try to fill the void in our heart that only God can fill (as do all addictions), draws us away from the Lord.  A few months ago I posted a meditation (see the selfie-of-feet link above) in which I discussed the vastness of the sea as an image of God's infinite love. How very sad that the girl at the beach  couldn't leave behind the instrument of her spiritual servitude even for the infinite embrace of the ocean.  What a sobering image of our modern predicament.