The Technology of Nature

(Anguilla, the British West Indies) So here's the setting: the warm azure-colored water of Maundy's Bay sliding up and down bright soft sand. In the distance, the islands of St. Maarten and Saba can be seen. The blue sky overhead is dotted with huge white clouds that bob along propelled by a warm breeze. IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!

Yet on the beach, some human beings barely look up at the incredible vista. Their machines are enveloping them like a Venus flytrap. They are texting, emailing, chatting with folks somewhere else on earth.

Welcome to our brave new world.

H. G. Wells wrote a book called The Time Machine where most humans were reduced to a trance-like existence, ruled by bad guys called Morlocks. You should read this book because we are rapidly heading in that direction. By the way, the Morlocks were cannibals.

Texting is addicting. Once you get emotionally involved with constant outside stimulation assaulting your brain, it is hard to stop looking at your machine every two minutes. Without rapid fire words appearing on a screen, you feel bored, not part of the action. It really doesn't matter what is being sent to you – the fact that words are flashing in front of your eyes is hypnotizing.

Kids are most vulnerable to the embrace of the machines. Children today don't really watch TV anymore. I mean they still sit in front of the set, but they are texting along with watching. They are multi-tasking. Thus, their concentration is diverted and much is missed, not only on the tube but in life.

Nature is a brilliant teacher. But how can you learn if you can't even sit on a beautiful beach without playing with a machine. Forget about thinking. No time for introspection. Nope. There are messages that have to be answered. Stuff is happening and has to be acknowledged.

There is no question that communications and information flow are enhanced by the high tech gizmos. Instantly, we can engage anyone in the world if we have their cyberspace information. But, again, if we allow the machines to dominate us, we will miss out on real life which, to be fully absorbed, needs to be seen and heard. Machine distractions prevent that.

When I tell children that they are far too dependent on their gizmos, they do not deny it. But they really don't care. This is their real life – texting about trivial things; listening to numbing music on their private headphones. The machines block everything out – you create your own little trivial world.

Socrates once said: "the unexamined life is not worth living." I concur. The world is a fascinating, difficult place and in order to take full advantage of what the planet has to offer, we need to see and hear natural things.

That is, if you don't want the Morlocks to get you.

  • Josh

    I think older folks are viewing this the wrong way. I purchased a 42″ HDTV for my parents a few years back, and they were amazed at the picture quality. They told me stories about how they had black-and-white sets with 3 channels, and color TV coming out was a marvel when they got one. My mother used to go to the neighbor’s house after school and sit in front of his color TV screen because she didn’t have one at home.

    When the Internet first broke out and the computer boom took off, it was house moms and the like sitting there all day, every day, giving rise to the chat room boom. Remember how huge that was? Hollywood was even making movies about it.

    But where are those things now? They’re lost in time — even the things which burst onto the scene only a decade or so ago.

    I also remember hearing older folks panic about Gameboy and the handheld Sega, and how that would keep kids distracted. The same with the walkman and portable CD players. “They’ll be listening to their music constantly! Accidents. No attention span!”

    For a while, sure, but now?

    These gadgets are also just fads. They’re cooler and far more advanced, but they haven’t been on the scene for long. Don’t forget, after all, that we’re not talking about “texting” in the same way it was done in 2004. This is 2013. You can play Angry Birds, edit photos in an app, and go beyond texting and poke and post and share with your friends via mobile versions of social media. It’s immersive and interactive, not just words on a screen anymore. So, yeah, people are enthralled with it.

    Just as I’m sure housewives were microwaving everything they could get their hands on for months straight in the 1960s.

    The people getting these smartphones are tablets today are getting brand new technology. An old Nokia could text and connect to the ‘net with its 3″ green screen. But these new devices are new to everyone.

    Just give it a few years. Everyone loves the shiny new things. It will die down.

    I’m sure Bill O’Reilly The Great doesn’t read comments from we mere plebeians on blogs, but you or anyone else can check out how technology is starting to shift as it becomes more advanced. Yeah, there are plenty of kids buried in these screens. They get on my dang nerves, truth be told, but they only represent a portion. There are also people in the lifelogging boom, using today’s technology to go out in nature and to experience it in a brand new way by sharing it with the world. Many of those people at the beach are using those devices to record, edit, convert and post their vacation videos all in one go.

    There’s a coming together of nature and technology. That’s a trend that’s going to increase, whereas games always die out in popularity.