Editor’s Note: Technology has created a virtual lifespace for all: a lifespace that gives us calculated doses of dopamine and gets us addicted to it. The following piece urges us to remove ourselves from the technological world that we have unwittingly been entangled into and to place ourselves within the natural, real world.
Praise the Technology!
- 89% of Americans say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.
- 75% of Americans feel uneasy leaving their phone at home.
- 75% use their phone on the toilet.
- 69% have texted someone in the same room as them before.
- 60% sleep with their phone at night
- 57% consider themselves “addicted” to their phones
- 55% say that they have never gone longer than 24 hours without their cell phone.
- 47% of people say they feel a sense of panic or anxiety when their cell phone battery goes below 20%.
- 46% use or look at their phone while on a date.
- 27% use or look at their phone while driving.
[“2023 Cell Phone Usage Statistics: Mornings Are for Notifications“]
After a Hewlett-Packard BIOS update fried my computer’s motherboard I had four-and-a-half days without a computer while the part was in transit to the neighborhood repair guy I found because of guidance in a dream from a Carolina Wren reminding me to look local; then Internet via cell phone helped find the repair guy.
The night before I had decided to go to Best Buy’s Geek Squad, and later on learned that they typically don’t replace motherboards.
I am not much adept with cell phone internet usage so without the habitual computer checking of email and news-hounding web-searching, I wondered: What is that habit, that urge, that compulsion that has so many people hooked to their gadgets?…hooked as if the gadget is the Oracle of Delphi and everyone doesn’t have a clue what’s going on or what the future will bring UNTIL they beseech the high priestess of technology.
Various online stats indicate that people check their phones anywhere from every three to twelve minutes! Without doing that, what else is there to check, to tune-in to?
How about: the natural world, meaningful symbols, mental exercises, deep listening, dreams, to name but a few.
Perhaps people too-often feel something lacking or the need to feel complete by having interacted with someone, or a message, news article, video, or game. Normal urges yet when obsessively habitual, I venture to say that there is the searching for such a tech moment so as to save one’s self.
But save one’s self from what? Boredom?
Or to riff the old saying attributed to Socrates, the examined life which makes life worth living?
In that case, the gadget becomes a lazy savior, but not an individual savior rather a conveyor of little techno savior moments which while temporarily satisfying, the feeling doesn’t last long so one must check the gadget again for another little savior moment, and again.
Some of the hooks of this religion of technology are: the promises put forth by the advertising merchants of veneer from their pixel pulpits; keeping up with the corporate news sports-style coverage of “perpetual war for perpetual peace,” as historian Charles A. Beard phrased it; an incessant need to be in communication with human beings, at the neglect of the non-human beings.
Little techno savior moments also lean toward mechanical, robotic and unemotional forms of communication, well, except for emojis and exclamation points!!!!!
(wow! he-she-they must really omg like me!!!!!)
Yet here I am scribbling with pen and paper looking forward to my computer’s born-again status so that I may type and share this missive with whomever may happen to read it.
Ay, there’s the rub, the to tech or not to tech rub . . . or how much to tech.
I can’t begin to address the big picture of technology usage as it is the backbone of global and local business transactions, plus personal interfacing, whether you can touch the face or not. So I simply address the consciousness of the usage as I see it playing out in society at large.
Little techno savior seekers move in lockstep with their electronic marching orders of selected, scripted, distorted or outright lies news-feeds; shop till you reach the top of social status clicks; assuage deep-rooted personal insecurities by amassing more ‘likes.’
Yet in the AI world, even the concept of a savior has been depersonalized and reduced to a drive-thru fast-food fleeting moment.
I propose that how we use the gadgets is one starting point for re-evaluation, the how being the consciousness with which we use them and a weighing of what we are not using enough: our feet, our hearts, our minds, dreams, intuitions, hunches, meditations, messages from our so-called neighbor the natural world and how those messages intertwine with the dreaming time that is beyond time, beyond rational thought, beyond click and ye shall find.
The good news is that all that good stuff is readily available inside you and outside your window if you’re willing to work for it, work as hard as a child working in an underground mine in the Congo for cobalt so you can have the facility to send an emoji that a new day is dawning.
And by “work” I don’t mean job for money rather the discipline and receptivity to serving something bigger than your ego, something bigger than appeasing your momentary fancy of a feel-good hook.
Bob Dylan sings in “My Back Pages”:
“In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach…
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.”
And so I must dismiss any notion that this scribbling will save anyone, though I would like to think that it may tilt the scale of consciousness so that more people will be able to save themselves.
After four-and-a-half days with minimal gadget use, I am reminded that it is a tool and the manner in which humanity produces and uses such tools will determine their functionality or lack there of, with ever the questions: At what cost to habitats where massive mining occurs; at what cost to the well-being of the workers, too-often slave laborers; at what cost to one’s self and the natural world for the lack of selfless service to that very world?
In his book The Religion of Technology, David F. Noble cites technology as often spurred by a “masculine millenarian mentality,” often exhibited with the military and science frame of mind, along with a sense of religious redemption. Yet this sense of redemption is deceptively foolhardy.
According to J. D. Bernal, quoted in the book:
“The cardinal tendency of progress is the replacement of an indifferent chance environment by a deliberately created one. As time goes on, the acceptance, the appreciation, even the understanding of nature, will be less and less needed. In its place will come the need to determine the desirable form of the humanly controlled universe.” (p. 175)
What this boils down to is if we as a species go the route of playing materialistic God . . . or are willing to play along with and be played by the Earth and the spiritual energies above and within Her.
While perhaps too cute or quaint or unbelievable to some human beings, the likes of little Carolina Wrens can show the way. But such guidance can not be bought rather is the fruit of relationship, as for many years I have put and let stay up undecorated holiday wreaths on my patio, keep them up even when they have dried from scented fresh woods green to brown.
Why? Because the wrens often sleep and, while I can’t scientifically prove it, dream in them.
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is a verbiage experiencer, in other words, he’s into etymology, writes about his experiences and to encourage people to learn from direct experiences, not just head knowledge.
He writes, small press publishes, and is the author of 17 books. Mankh travels a holistic mystic Kaballah-rooted pathway staying in touch with Turtle Island and the cycles of the Seasons. His works can be found here. You can also find this article on his blog post.
Photo by kaipong/Getty Images via Canva.com