Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I've been giving some thought to the ways our lives have changed in recent years as a result of technology.
I am a Sputnik Baby. I was born the day that the first ever Earth satellite went up into space. I came into the world just as science and new innovations were beginning to radically change the way human beings in the developing world would live and believe.
My generation grew up discovering Tang, Jiffy Pop, TV dinners and saccharine. We got color TVs and microwave ovens. We got home size freezers for our groceries (I do remember when it was typical for families to rent a locker at the local butcher shop). We were thrilled by vacuum cleaners that weighed less and sucked more, ziplock baggies and more new cleaning products than we could ever find all the uses for.
There were medical breakthroughs, space travel, and all sorts of keen inventions. But I keep having to ask myself, did life overall get BETTER as a result of technology?
I have a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a laptop, a cell phone, a palm pilot and all the typical toys of fat Americans. Yet I seem to have LESS time for relating to my neighbors than my grandmother did in an age when she ironed absolutely everything, cooked from scratch, beat her rugs and darned socks. (When I see holes in a sock I just say "that darn sock!" and throw the sucker away).
Our work hours keep extending, our relaxation time seems consumed with invasive media. Granted, there are CHOICES to be made here... I can turn the TV off, I can choose to go for a walk instead of work on my computer, I can visit with a neighbor rather than run through another level of my "to do" list.
All I'm saying is that it seems odd to me that with all these time saving devices we seem to have less time than ever before. And clearly, the social structure of this modern day is feels far more depraved and chaotic than in earlier times. I am ever so grateful that when I was in grade school I got to munch down sugar cubes holding the precious potion of the Salk Polio vaccine, rather than live in fear of the iron lung. I'm glad that when my vision became distorted I was able to get glasses to correct it, and later was able to have Lasik surgery to banish those glasses entirely. Yet I'm not so sure I am grateful for air conditioning and garages, things that contributed to the loss of front porches from most homes so neighbors no longer sat out on quitet summer evenings drinking lemonade and waving as others passed my. And I remain quite ambivalent about the development of 24 hr TV, or the introduction of a lot of other things that have become so ubiquitous in every day life. (Remember when the TV stations used to play the National Anthem to signal they were about to end broadcasting for the night?)
Sometimes I hunger for slower, quieter, simpler times.
But then, I suppose that longing is nothing really new. For that matter, the prophet Nephi, son of Helaman felt sorta the same way:
"Oh that I could have had my days in the days when my father
Nephi first came out of the land of Jeruselum, that I could have
joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy
to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and
slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto
the words of the Lord-- Yea, if my days could have been in those
days, then would my soul have had joy in righteousnes of my
brethren. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days,
and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow becouse of the
wickedness of my bretheren." (Helaman 7:7-9)
Maybe David Chadwell is right when he says: The "times when things were simple" exist only in "selective memory." They are illusions that appear in the rear view mirrors of the "complicated now." As each generation ages, it looks back to "a simpler time" when things were not so complex and life was not so demanding. However, our backward glances suffer from a perpetual illness. Backward glances "see" from the pleasant light of "glowing memories." Those memories commonly focus on the "good experiences" (often exaggerated) as the person refuses to recall "bad" realities. "
I can certainly support his summary line when he says:
Only one eternal constant exists in our complex world: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The ages will never be too complex for Jesus to rescue and sustain. Understanding Jesus will enable any generation to cope with and survive its age. "


Younger Leo said...

Yes. Understanding Jesus will enable any generation to cope with and survive its age.

Understanding Jesus will enable any generation to cope with and survive its age.

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

We just had a sister comment on this at Enrichment Night. She is an older lady and said the exact thing you said - all these time and labor-saving devices, and yet we have less time to serve than ever before.

It does make you want to slow down, doesn't it. I relish peaceful, quiet, unhurried times.

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