At times I am ashamed of the endless minutes and hours I have frittered away scrolling through the mindless banalities of Facebook, or learning what some celebrity posted on Twitter. With all the valuable knowledge on the Internet, how much time do we waste on things that mean little in the eternal scheme of things.
I was sitting reading Walden this afternoon and reminded that we are not the first generation to plunge headlong into communication and technology with little understanding of it’s real value. Consider these words penned by Henry David Thoreau in 1854:
“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. Either is in such a predicament as the man who was earnest to be introduced to a distinguished deaf woman, but when he was presented, and one end of her trumpet was put into his hand, had nothing to say. As if the main object were to talk fast and not talk sensibly. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has whooping cough. After all, the man whose horse trots a mile a minute does not carry the most important messages; he is not an evangelist, nor does he come round eating locusts and wild honey. I doubt if Flying Childers ever carried a peck of corn to mill.”
I am curious if Thoreau lived today – would he rail against cell phones, text messages, Skype and all the other modern means of communication. The complaint is not that we have advance means to communicate and learn, but that we fail to see their real value. Even in that I find myself much more like Thoreau than I would like to admit. Railing against modern society, Thoreau readily took part in his neighbors parties and celebratory events. Preaching a withdrawal from society, he never lived or achieved his high ideals in his own life.
So here I sit frustrated that we whittle away the time checking to see if Jan has a new boyfriend, or what uncle Theo had for lunch; all the while using this same technology to post my rants for others to peruse and follow. I post my links to Facebook and Twitter, and check back often to see how many likes I have gotten, or how many comments have been posted.
With those contradictions I sign off for today to read a good book, or spend time with a friend. Grace and peace be with you.