O'REILLY: The technology of Mother Nature
ANGUILLA, British West Indies — So here’s the setting: the warm azure-colored water of Maundy’s Bay sliding up and down bright soft sand. In the distance, the islands of St. Maarten and Saba can be seen. The blue sky overhead is dotted with huge, white clouds that bob along propelled by a warm breeze. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Yet on the beach, some human beings barely look up at the incredible vista. Their machines are enveloping them like a Venus flytrap.
They are texting, emailing, chatting with folks somewhere else on earth.
Welcome to our brave new world.
H.G. Wells wrote a book called “The Time Machine” where most humans were reduced to a trance-like existence, ruled by bad guys called Morlocks. You should read this book, because we are rapidly heading in that direction. By the way, the Morlocks were cannibals.
Texting is addicting. Once you get emotionally involved with constant outside stimulation assaulting your brain, it is hard to stop looking at your machine every two minutes.
Without rapid-fire words appearing on a screen, you feel bored, not part of the action. It really doesn’t matter what is being sent to you — the fact that words are flashing in front of your eyes is hypnotizing.
Kids are most vulnerable to the embrace of the machines. Children today don’t really watch TV anymore. I mean they still sit in front of the set, but they are texting along with watching. They are multi-tasking. Thus, their concentration is diverted and much is missed, not only on the tube but in life.
Nature is a brilliant teacher. But how can you learn if you can’t even sit on a beautiful beach without playing with a machine? Forget about thinking. No time for introspection.
Nope. There are messages that have to be answered. Stuff is happening and has to be acknowledged.
There is no question that communications and information flow are enhanced by the high-tech gizmos. Instantly, we can engage anyone in the world if we have their cyberspace information.
But, again, if we allow the machines to dominate us, we will miss out on real life which, to be fully absorbed, needs to be seen and heard. Machine distractions prevent that.
When I tell children that they are far too dependent on their gizmos, they do not deny it. But they really don’t care. This is their real life — texting about trivial things, listening to numbing music on their private headphones. The machines block everything out — you create your own little, trivial world.
Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I concur. The world is a fascinating, difficult place and in order to take full advantage of what the planet has to offer, we need to see and hear natural things.
That is, if you don’t want the Morlocks to get you.