Last week a turbulent storm kept us up half the night.
Watching a stormy sky is a much different experience than watching the globs of primary colors on the radar screen. Both indicate the weather. One is twisting around you with gusts of wind, flashes of lightning, and gurgles of thunder. The other contrived with mathematics, equipment, and computers.
Same storm, two perspectives. Real life vs. reality.
It seems like reality has a whole new meaning. Like “reality” television. Like instant access to information, entertainment, gratification. A sense of entitlement that makes power outages refer not just to devices, but to people as well. Because technology seems to, in many ways, have become an extension of ourselves and our reality.
Like the night of the storm :
“No red boxes!” I said, my face lit up by the computer screen. Then jumped as a rumble of thunder shook the house.
A few minutes later, I went onto the back porch. The storm whipped against my face as lightning made curtains of rain shimmer like a disco ball. Thunder boomed so often that it was impossible to differentiate the thunder from its echoes. The back yard looked like a Van Gogh landscape being electrocuted. It was scary, life-affirming, and real.
Not a red box in sight.
Einstein feared the day that technology would surpass human interaction and create a generation of idiots. As grateful as I am for severe weather warnings to keep my family safe, I regularly limit screen time for my kids because no device should be a substitute for intelligence or good judgment. I don’t want them to feel at a loss when the power goes out—on the screen and in real life.
Technology is handy, no questions about it. It has saved lives, enhanced education, and improved the world in many positive ways. But like any good thing, there can be too much of it. To depend on technology to make your choices can alter real life. It can shrink the world to within the four corners of a high-definition screen. Updating your status and waiting for likes instead of talking to people. Googling far off places instead of travelling there. Choosing your outfit based on a celebrity you have never met. Uploading a photo and not until the appropriate number of “likes” pop up do you consider it a worthy one. Or checking weather.com for the temperature when you can just as easily open the back door and judge for yourself.
Kids should grow to learn that the most important person to depend on in life is themselves. To develop into a strong, independent, optimistic, and dependable person who makes the most from their circumstances. Without relying on any device (or person, or media outlet, or drug…) to do their thinking for them.
Life throws some hard lessons your way. That repeat over and over until either you learn, or you buckle under the pressure. But deciding how you feel based on some update in cyberspace shouldn’t be one of them. Go outside, face the storm, and feel it for yourself. You may be surprised what you hear when you start listening to yourself in the real world.
Like a rainbow between storms… you may realize that you are enough.