Deaf ears and idle hands.

I’ll be honest: despite being one of the earliest members of “Generation Y”, I dislike living in a time when we have technology spilling out of our every orifice. In my ideal world, it still takes two or more days for news to travel, people have to confront their issues with others face to face, and the only way to achieve success is through hard, diligent, often backbreaking work.

Yeah, I said it. I think technology makes us impatient, lazy, and weak.

Of course, there are perks to technology – I’d be stupid if I said there weren’t. But I’m just as guilty as anyone of getting sucked into the nonsense. Where conveniences make our lives faster, easier, and more efficient, they also allow us to forget how responsible we are for our own results. It used to be that someone would get upset if their oxen became injured, because it prevented them from completing their day’s work efficiently, and they might have to work harder/longer to put food on the table. These days we freak out if our cell phone breaks…and why? Because we can’t check Facebook or text a friend while we’re bored in a doctor’s office waiting room? There are exceptions, of course – like people who rely on their cell/Blackberry/iPhone for work purposes. The fact that their technology-dependent jobs may not have existed decades ago doesn’t make them any less stressful. (In most cases, I believe they are more.) But for the most part, we’ve come to regard technology as a right instead of a privilege.

I must seem like a hypocrite, sitting here on a computer and using the most inane of technological advances – a personal blog. But the truth is, even if I’d been born in a different generation, I’d still be writing. Pen to paper, quill to parchment, or hammer and chisel to stone, it makes no difference. But I do find myself wishing, sometimes, that it wasn’t quite so easy to say something.  Not only does the lack of time and thought affect the quality of our words, but the bombardment of “conversation” via e-mail, text, blog, and forum has so desensitized us that we’ve stopped listening correctly too.

My thoughts actually stemmed from a different realization this morning. I stumbled upon a quote that perfectly sums up my feelings regarding certain types of people:

“It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.” ~ Walter Lippmann

Every piece of information we’re offered, we have to choose to accept or disregard. There used to be a process to this; people would think before they spoke, and ponder before accepting. But given the way we have to accept or disregard information daily thanks to internet, TV, and text message, we’ve become masters of disregard. And that’s a shame.

The other downside to technology is that it encourages us to procrastinate (something I am already a master at, believe me). We don’t have to spend as much time doing things or preparing for things as we used to, so we spend more time killing time than we do actually using it. That’s also a shame. 

The second quote I stumbled upon this morning that really opened my eyes was this:

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

How is it, that even with all of this technology at our fingertips, we still never seem to have enough time in a day? Shouldn’t things be done earlier and faster, leaving more time for relaxation? Yet we can spend all day “doing”, and see only half of our responsibilities finished by bedtime. I see this happen in my own house regularly.

I think I finally realized the reason that I’m so resentful toward technology. I use it, I am a consumer like everyone else, but I always feel like it’s sucking the life force out of me. Maybe that’s because it is. In an average hour when I could conceivably finish a whole host of chores, I only manage to load half the dishwasher, write half a to-do list, and maybe think idly about starting something else. The rest of the time, my brain is consumed with responding to texts, “checking” things online, or seeing if there’s any news I’ve missed in the past quarter hour. Even when I decide to ‘shut off’ for a few hours, I find my mind wandering to the possibilities of what I’m missing.

These aren’t groundbreaking realizations. They’ve been rehashed again and again, but not surprisingly, I usually chose to disregard that information.  Most people do.

So there’s no moral to the story here – it isn’t really a story. I just saw this image in my head which both amused and horrified me: a person who is both deaf and unable to communicate with their hands. Depressing, right? Well if we choose to be deaf to things we don’t want to hear, and we live our lives with idle hands, how is that any different?