Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Modern Conveniences are Sometimes Too Convenient

Reliance on modern conveniences is kind of scary, you know. In fact, since the Laptop Incident (I'm going to call it that. Like the Dino Drama), I have found myself reflecting upon my averagely-normal obsession with electronic devices and all of their pro's and con's; for there are many!
Let's take a looksie, shall we?

Pro's about modern conveniences in Cheryl's life:

1. I don't have to chop wood to heat my house or cook my food.
2. Washing my clothing, buying food, getting places, contacting my next of kin, and hearing the news is a cinch.
3. Entertainment is only one click away --videos, music, humor, drama, etc.
4. I can shop in my pajamas!
5. Getting in touch with people immediately. For example, some random person just barely (as I was writing this post) wrote me about a former roommate of hers and asked if I knew her and how this person could get in touch with her. I immediately emailed the friend of mine who then promptly emailed me back to tell me that this other girl was, indeed, her former roommate!
Holy cow! Long-lost roommates united again and it only took 2 minutes. Miraculous!
6. Lights, air conditioning, houses with foundations and roofs, sidewalks, schools, computers, the Internet, indoor plumbing, pre-made clothing, frozen food, dishwashers, microwaves, cell phones, GPS, gasoline, 75 mph, sprinkler systems, lawn mowers, Facebook, email, blogs, Home Depot, pipes, gas fireplaces, pre-made furniture, digital photos, online back-up servers, airplanes, fancy soaps, toothpaste, hairspray, DVD players in mini-vans, etc. all equal the miracles and convenience-y convenience of modern life.
And I barely touched on it all, you know.

Now, here are the con's of modern conveniences in Cheryl's life:

1. The inability to help oneself when a modern convenience stops working. Wouldn't it be helpful to learn how to cook over a campfire? (good think we love camping!) And to chop firewood? What about washing clothing by hand and hang-drying? Using candles? Growing food in a garden? Surviving without them? Thriving without them?
2. The intense addiction to all things online: Facebook, email, blogging (for starters). Not being able to stop oneself from checking these things constantly ALL DAY LONG because what if somebody out there said something to someone about something I may have the slightest interest in? What if!?!??
3. Living in a world outside of our own through mediums such as Movies, Music, and YouTube. Granted, the "novel" has been around for centuries to help us escape the doldrums of our lives --but a good novel here and there doesn't hurt and increases brain power through reading, thinking, and imagining! (Assuming it is a novel of high caliber and not smut, of course.) I think the same could be said about a good movie here and there. But with our modern world? We can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want: rentals (Netflix, Blockbuster, etc), on-demand, online, on TV, at the theater, on a phone, on a computer, DVD, VHS, etc. We can also listen to music the same way: radio, satellite radio, through the TV, through the computer, online, from our phones, MP3's (players and computer), iPod's (players and computer), YouTube, other video sites, etc.
We can literally live an entire different life other than the real one we have, if we so choose. We can be so immersed into the modern convenience of entertainment that we end up ignoring our families, our friends, and even ourselves.
4. Boredom. Yes, boredom. The reliance upon modern conveniences can make one (me? you?) so bored with stillness or non-communication with another human being via electronics, that we go crazy. We can't sit still and listen to nothingness or even our own thoughts. In fact, here is an excerpt from one of my favorite books of all time:
Delightfully tired, I lay down on three chairs for an hour (the room did not boast a sofa). I slept, then I woke and thought for two hours.
~"Villette" by Charlotte Bronte

The first time I read this (about 6 years ago?), I stopped short when I read this passage (now granted, Lucy Snowe is about to embark upon a drastic change in her life, so she has a lot to think about, and it is the 1800's and it's not like she was going to hang out at the local bar or go blog about her decisions, eh?). I couldn't fathom how one could just sit and think for two hours. How boring! How crazy! She should talk to somebody! Go for a walk! Read a book!
Now, the realization of her wisdom has been coming on slowly for me, and in reality, I think I now know how beneficial it is to just sit, think, ponder, meditate...and I'm heartily ashamed of myself for not figuring it out sooner. I mean, what does the Gospel teach us about the Holy Ghost? Pray and than listen. Read the scriptures and then listen. Sit still. Search, PONDER, and Pray. "Be still, and know that I am God."

The other night, I found myself fighting the desire to hole up into the computer room, just to be online. So, I told myself I had to stop thinking of stillness and non-communication with the outside world as bad thing. Instead, I focused on how it was (is??) a (the??) way to communicate with God --and with myself.
So, I did the dishes. Then I prayed.
Then I sat. I sat! I thought about my future, my schedule, and I thought. Not for two hours, but still! I thought.
And it was awesome, dear reader. I highly suggest some thinking time (to go along with all that other time you have left-over after exercising, taking care of the house, working, mowing the lawn, running the kids here and there, right?). You may already be a pro at this, but I'm still amazed at my new-found knowledge on the subject.

So, here I am, with many choices before me. Trying to decide if I truly want the laptop to be fixed, or if I like the new life I have to make for myself --carving out time for the computer (I mean, my blog is my journal and scrapbook; I can't ignore it, it's for posterity!), but realizing I don't NEED the computer as much as I thought I did. And when I'm on the computer, streamlining my time as to do the stuff I really need to do. Like www.mormonwoman.org. And blogging. And emails. I don't need to watch YouTube videos all day. I don't need to be on Facebook. I don't need to read hundreds of blogs!
And I don't even have to do it every day.
And how interesting is it that after the horror of losing my prized possession, I am now grateful for it? Interesting, indeed.

So, dear reader, tell me: How do you view the modern conveniences of our day? Where do you draw the line between complete reliance and simple gratitude for the miracle of them? What about your entertainment? How do you limit your online time? Do you limit your online time? Are you as aware of the irony of these questions as I am since I'm asking them through cyberspace on a blog?


Mother of the Wild Boys said...

My brain is mush right now, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed this post. <3

Never A True Aggie said...

Hmm. Online time. I usually wait until bedtime. I do find it a huge time waster and it makes me avoid things I really need to do, like laundry, dishes, etc.

I think timers are good too. Sometimes I set the timer for one hour and then clean, which helps me stay focused. Perhaps doing that for the computer helps too.

Amanda D said...

When our old laptop died I was sure that I didn't want another one because it is too easy to sit with the laptop and be on the computer non-stop. But, we bought a laptop and I am glad and sad at the same time.

I've really cut back on my computer time. I'm still on 3x a day but that's a lot better than the 8 or 10 from before. :)

Great post!

Alison Wonderland said...

Amen sister, A-freaking-men.