Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I is for iPhone

My grandpa took a trip with a friend this past holiday season. They were going to a cabin for a few days. No TV, no internet, no activities planned, no nothing. They were just going to go to the cabin. When I asked what he would do, he explained that he would spend a great deal of his time meditating. He then followed this up by adding that I probably didn’t understand why he would want to do that. And you know what? I didn’t.

Since then, I’ve thought about it some more, and I can’t deny the feeling that I probably should better understand my grandpa’s motives. I recognize a need for meditation and contemplation, unfettered by technological distractions, in my life. But I can’t get myself to do anything about it. I have therefore concluded that I am addicted to technology. And I don’t think I’m alone.

The revolution of the smartphone has propelled our world’s sophistication into something out of a sci-fi movie of yesteryear. If we want to know anything about anything, we can do so—instantaneously. If we want to, we can download a song, email a friend, look up the meaning of the word crapulence, or watch a sports game while taking care of more medieval concerns on the toilet. Kind of gross, but still. Technology has us on our own personal throne, where the kingdom is ours for the taking.

We (as a society) already lack the patience to appreciate good music (see “H”), learn about critical issues that affect our lives (see “F”), be curtious on the road (see “D”), and read long blogs (or so my readers tell me). And technology is only going to speed things up more. What will we lack the patience for in ten years? What about twenty? “Dang it, honey, the robo-cook isn’t working. It made Indian style curry, not Thai.”

Since I got my iPhone a year and half ago, I’ve become the petty kid at the store who won’t stop screaming until he gets his candy bar. Except replace the candy bar with news and twitter updates, email and GPS searches, and replace screaming with sulking. “Come on! No wifi? This is the last time I go hiking here.” In 2030, am I going to whine because the wifi on my hoverboard is squeamish when I am crossing a lake?

I grew up long enough ago that the only way I could know what was going on in the sports world was to wait for the newspaper every day. I would scour through its sports section and imagine each game in my mind. But after a few minutes, I saw all there was to see. So you know that I did next? I would go play sports. I needed an avenue to express my imagination. If I was a kid today, I would probably plop myself on the couch and watch ESPN until my eyes started to bleed; all the while I would be playing with my different iPhone apps. Once I was done there, I would likely turn on my Xbox and play some sports video game that was virtually identical to reality. And all the while, my actual sports skills would have been non-existent, and my imagination broken.

What’s my point? Well, besides feeling really bad for kids today, my point is that I’m pretty sure my addiction to technology is keeping me from acquiring real skills. I am never without a dull moment, but I get the feeling that may not be a good thing. Dull moments may just lead to meditation. Meditation and contemplation may just lead to inspired thought. Being inspired might just compel me to do something very worthwhile and spawn personal growth. Unfortunately, all this would require me to give up my iPhone and other technological handcuffs. And, therefore, I don’t know what to do. . . . I really need technology rehab. Ooh, I wonder if there is an app for that.


Today’s recommendation: Two songs. 1) “Relate to Me” by The Voyces. It kind of speaks to what I am talking about in this blog. 2) “The High Road” by Broken Bells. It doesn’t relate to this entry so much, but it is a side project of James Mercer (the headman for The Shins), and it is choice.


  1. I remember the days before I got a cell phone. I didn't like leaving my kids with a babysitter with no way for them to reach me. Technology has definitely improved my life, as long as I don't let it interfere with interpersonal relationships!

  2. I think I get a brownie point, I have redeemed myself and read your whole blog. I finally figured out how to retrieve it. - I agree that technology has improved but sometimes we need to just sit and ponder with nothing in our hand or ear and just listen to nature. God speaks loudest when it is quiet. Food for thought. Love, mom

  3. I don't want to give up my technology (aka iPhone), but I sure love those moments in life where I leave them all behind - such as backpacking into the wilderness with nothing but a pack on my back full of food and the 'essentials.' There needs to be a balance. Love,Marcus.