Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Certain Addictions, Family, Dick Tracy, and Captain Kirk

In the past, I have written about our modern technology in a manner that some folks believed I was trying to rain down hell-fire upon it.  That belief is incorrect.  I have droned on and will continue to drone on about our addiction to these hi-tech toys.  It is the addiction, not the toys that I see as a problem.  Well, what would Dick Tracy and Captain Kirk do?  

Long before television, the Dick Tracy comic strip was syndicated and appeared in the majority of American newspapers.  Tracy had a special communication device; his wristwatch was a telephone. At the time, no one ever dreamed that a phone like Tracy's would or ever could be a reality.  Now there is a company that sells them.  Today, Tracy being Tracy would tell you to care for the device, but when the day's work was completed, he also would tell you to take the device off of your wrist, just like you take off your shoes, and relax with your family; chill out, kick back, grab a beer and listen to the stories that your family has to tell you.  

During the late 1960's, the Enterprise was going everywhere, and Kirk usually led the ground team.  At one point he'd flip open his "communicator" and say something like, "Beam us up Scotty.  There's nobody here except Spock's family."  At that time, a telephone like that in real time was unthinkable. Now, we have all kinds of them.  But at the end of the day, Kirk, like Tracy, would tell you to put down the damned phone and relax with your friends.  These are fictional characters, but speak to a higher truth.  

The family is the basic brick with which society is built; families make up clans, and clans become tribes.  Tribes make up a society.  However, it seems that our modern society has become a bit uneasy; it's getting worse.  These times put strenuous demands on all people and the addiction to smart phones and being "on-line and connected" makes the situation more tenuous.  The family is the hardest hit.  

Family meal time used to be a daily, almost sacred event.  Not anymore.  Other than an occasional grunt, parents and their kids do not talk at meal time; they are mesmerized with their on-line activity. It's amazing that food makes it into the mouth; only the Gods know if they chew.  But it's worse than that.  People have become disconnected with real life.  

This disconnected state has cut a wide swath across all age groups.  It has damaged the family and the individual's sense of self-worth.  It has hypnotized folks into believing that the cyber world is just as real and valid as the physical world.  The thing is, people have lost sense of their culture, something that can act like a compass on high seas.  Probably, this lost sense of culture may be a major contributor to folks feeling disconnected and why they rush into cyber-space to fill the need for "friends."  

People go on-line and openly talk about their real time problems.  And cyber friends have replaced real family and real friends.  Advice is freely given and taken by people who in all probability, will never physically meet.  What kids should talk openly about with their parents or older siblings they freely discuss with complete strangers.  Well, can you blame them?  Parents and siblings too are on-line. We need to make some adjustments, take some corrective steps, individually and collectively.  

The first step - we need to recognize what all of this fabulous technology really is:  tools, wonderful and awesome tools.  But, so are bench grinders, milling machines, hammers, manure spreaders, and Zamboni's.  When the job is finished, we put these machines away, until we need them again.  We sure as hell do not clean them up, plug them in and then put them on a night-stand.  

The second step - people must force themselves to make family first.  Put down the phone and talk to your kids.  Who do you want talking to your kids about sex?  An on-line stranger or you?  Who do you want to tell your spouse how awesome he or she is?  Someone on-line or you?  Put down the phone and talk.  Many times the idea about a family night, usually during the week, has been bandied about.  That's not enough.  Add to that one week night a full weekend day.  Unplug the phones, turn off the computer, get back to being a family.  

The third step - On a regular basis, get outside of your house and commune with Nature.  Plant a tree, hug a tree, or sit beneath one and meditate.  Plant a vegetable and flower garden; get your hands in the dirt.  Go fishing, hunting, or both.  Believe me, if you would go fishing or hunting with some of the folks I know and bring along your smart phone, you would be lucky to go home with it in one piece.  Visit national parks, state parks, and wildlife preserves.  The point is to turn off the electronics, put them away and get outdoors.  

The fourth step - Do you get bored?  Let the smart phone and computer alone.  Grab a book, a physical book and read.  Treat your brain to a ride on the wild side.  It will love you for it.  

The fifth step - Discover your culture; find out where you came from.  Dig to find your roots; revel in them.    

When people are addicted, they will do anything for a "fix."  But the addiction to being on-line and "connected" can be just plain silly.  Is it really necessary to know that a cyber friend's dog had puppies?  Unless you are in the market for a "man's best friend" getting all gushy about pictures of puppies hundreds of miles away is, ah, well, different.  It begs the question, were you that enthusiastic when your kids were born?  How serious can it be when your cyber BFF "unfriended" you because you did not "like" something he posted to his wall?  If that happened, not only is the guy a jerk but never was a real friend.  In the real world, do you have a friend who would do that to you?  Really?  Over your not liking a picture?  Do you want your boss texting you on a Sunday morning wanting to know where the files for his XYZ client can be found?  As far as your boss goes, unless he is paying you more money than God, he and those files can wait until Monday morning.  Frankly, this falls just a tad short of bullying.  Besides, even though you cannot see it, the shit sends texts to half the office asking the same question.  And then we have our extremely personal moments.  Why would you want to be on-line and connected, ..... in there?  What? You gonna snap some "selfies?"  Finally, we have the idiot who talks, texts, and drives, all at the same time.  When he puts his car up a poll he is still clueless.  It's time to put down the electronics and reconnect with family, friends, nature, and culture.    

This addiction to being connected and on-line at all costs, I believe, can be broken with the previous mentioned five steps.  We need to remember that these electronic devices are tools to be used to serve us.  They are not and should not be treated or thought of as additional human appendages. Unfortunately, this message will fall on not just blind eyes but also deaf ears.  That's too bad.  So, what would Tracy and Kirk do?  Tracy just might shoot you and then put you in jail.  Kirk would slap you silly and put you in rehab.  Both characters would sight neglect as their reason.    

                                           Copyright @2014 Terry Unger     




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