Can we get away from constant marketing barrages, please!? I mean, good grief! You can’t even enjoy a movie any more without being bombarded with the same advertisements that you see at home on television each day and the promotion of television shows, local businesses and the way-overpriced snacks at the snack bar, which you just came from before you took your seat.
And what about your mailbox? If you are like me, you get a massive amount of mail each week from every nonprofit in America, wanting your donations. It is hard to imagine how much some of these organizations spend on literature and gimmicks to draw you in. Some send postage stamps to save you 49 cents. Some even send coins in an attempt to shame you into giving to their cause. Full color marketing slicks, greeting cards and trinkets all scream, “I need your help!”
It seems logical to think that these guys might do well to refocus their dollars on their purpose and less on their marketing staff. I get mailers from organizations that I have never heard of. How did I get on those lists!? Maybe they could spend their energy more wisely with more simple attempts to explain why they do what they do and less on over-the-top advertisement to impress me. But that’s just me!
And the political campaigns are getting way out of hand. We are flooded with literature during a campaign season (it seems like campaigning goes on year-round these days!), and it has become a contest of who can spread the most dirt about their political opponent and very little about why their ideas are the best. Sports trash talk has worked its way into the political arena, via the mail.
How many millions of Americans get this stuff each week!? The printing and postage costs alone must be staggering, to say nothing of the stuffers they put in the envelopes.
And have you ever tried to do some research online or just read an interesting article on the internet? Most of the time you will get pounded with pop-ups of every stripe, touting their wares. You can spend so much of your time x-ing out of them that you forget why you pulled up this site in the first place.
Now, back to the movies – the previews of upcoming shows will drain your energy. There are at least eight previews now, before the show that you paid to watch begins, and some of them six to ten months before they are to be released. And most of the useless flicks Hollywood is feeding us are either too ridiculous to waste your time and money on, too violent that it will depress you (How many buildings and vehicles can you blow up and how many people can you kill in one movie?) or too way-out-there in sci-fi land (How many weird, demonic looking monsters can take over this planet?).
I know that I’m dating myself now, but when I was growing up, we would go to the movies and see a newsreel and a “color carton” and then the movie – much simpler days, indeed.
I remember when we began hearing the term “Information Age.” It was exciting to think of so much that could be at your fingertips and that life would be so much less complicated with the advances in technology. Well, forget that under-thought axiom.
One exciting thought was that you would be able to order your stuff from your computer and have it delivered right to your door! Wow, what an idea! But now, people in our neighborhood are constantly complaining about their packages from UPS or Fed-X being stolen from off their front porch.
One idea that began to float around in the 1970’s was that you would eventually have a telephone number and no matter where you lived it would go with you. I worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone in those days and it seemed preposterous to all of us. But, here we are with our cell phones and they will go with us everywhere. We even feel weird and restless if we forget to take it along when we leave the house.
However, problems tend to follow because the providing companies do not desire for you to get too comfortable in the way your phone operates. They constantly send software upgrades and that puts us on edge, not knowing what the upgrade will change on our phone. Apple was just accused of, and finally admitted that, they intentionally have slowed down the data to their older devices. Conspiracy theorists say it’s because they want to force you to upgrade to their latest offering. (To me, that’s a pretty fair assumption.)
The Information Age has brought a less complicated and better life for all, right? I’m afraid that life has never been more complicated or frustrating than it is right now, in the midst of the Information Age. We have gained great technological advances, for certain. But have we really?
Yes, we can surf the net and find information on anything we desire. Of course, this includes many things that you do not desire like viruses that constantly threaten, originating from bad folks that spend more energy messing up other folk’s stuff than they do being productive.
What about our kids? What kind of generation are we raising today? The upcoming “Me Generation” is very adept at manipulating electronics, especially video games. In 2013, the average time that gamers, age 13 and up, spent on video games was 6.3 hours each week. That was up from 5.1 hours in 2011. The gaming industry raked in $23.5 billion in 2015 from its consumers. Show me the money!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Diablo 3, Manhunt, Postal, Hated, Death Race and Punisher are examples of the uplifting and educational games that capture young people’s attention, time and minds these days. (Where are our old friends Pac Man and Mario when you need them?) Extreme cases have actually found some gamers dead after playing for extended periods of time. Psychological experts are relating these violent games to undesirable behavioral issues.
Try “calling” a person these days (believe it or not, that’s what the phone was originally designed for). Many will not answer a telephone call but will reply to a text or Instagram or Tweet or Twit or Twoot or whatever…I heard one young person complain, about the distant person that she was texting, that they were unnecessarily spelling all their words. How stupid, when they should be abbreviating! The art of communication is being lost. Cursive handwriting is even being phased out in schools. It has been said that if you want to write a secret coded note to your spouse, one that your kids can’t read, just write it in cursive.
Face-to-face conversations, exchanging ideas with clear, logical thought is rapidly becoming extinct. People sit across from each other in restaurants and text each other. Look around the next time you eat out and count the number of folks who are engaged with their phones, ignoring friends around them. We are all guilty of it. We’re addicted to these electronic leeches.
We could go on and on, of course. We’ve barely scratched the surface. The point is that our world has become a fast paced and reckless place, and in many respects, a very impersonal, electronically fraudulent wilderness that can be a very cold and dangerous environment. Are we forgetting how to love and care for our fellow man?
I was raised in the 1960’s, the “Flower Children” and “Love Culture” days. But the things that the hippie generation strived for, “All You Need is Love,” as sung by the Beatles, was never realized and we have seen a downward spiral from there. Dennis Prager has recently said that the Greatest Generation gave birth to the worst generation because the values that made them great were not passed on.
Today our society seems to exist in a hopeless, purposeless and angry state of mind. The family unit, bedrock of any civilized culture, is on the rocks. 1960 saw 9% of America’s children in single parent households. In 1980 it had risen to 19% and today a striking 34% of our kids are being raised by a single parent. Life doesn’t seem to have gotten simpler and easier for these struggling families.
So, technology has not been the savior that many hoped it would be, the restorer of sanity and peace in our lives. Instead it has increased stress and sped up the pace of life to new heights. An appropriate theme song today might be Ray Price’s top 40 hit from the ‘60’s, Make the World Go Away. But, unless we withdraw to the hills of Kentucky and live like hermits, we are destined to fight the fight every day against being controlled by electronics, confusion and insanity.
I will begin to land this plane now, thank you. Humanity’s problems stem from within, from the soul of who we really are deep inside each person. The physical world we see, with all its problems, is simply the result of what humans have produced from the inward restlessness. Humans that are messed up inside can’t consistently produce good stuff to be used by others.
Jesus said it best in Matthew 24:12, “And because of lawlessness the love of many will grow cold.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn, remembering the days of the Communist Revolution in Russia, says that he remembers his father and grandfather saying the Communist takeover occurred because that society had forgotten God. When he related that story to a Harvard student body assembly he was booed.
And what about you? Do you look around and see the evolution of man, always moving upward in intelligence and greatness and restoring civility to our world? Or do you see humanity in a tailspin toward chaos. (Order never arises out of chaos, you know.) These are certainly questions to ponder if you are a thinking person.
Are there answers for our crazy world? For those of us that have seen the hand of God in our lives, we say a resounding, “Yes.” Our existence is not hopeless and meaningless. There is always hope.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus – Matthew 11:28