The Immediacy of Modern Life, or How I Forgot to Think About Things

Posted on September 16, 2018


As I browse my email each morning I realize I am tied to the immediate here and now.

The newest, and breaking, discoveries for better arteries, better sex, a longer, stress-free life all ding on me every morning, and every hour of the day and night. Services remind me to immediately check my credit status today, this very hour, if not sooner and more often. People used to go to their stock broker’s offices and sit and watch the ticker tape to measure the pulse of their investments. Now you can worry right at home. Everything is online.

I could do Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, YouTube, and the rest for even more immediate news of what the President said as he boarded the Marine helicopter on his way to lunch with his wife on the Presidential yacht which the Governor of some state like California says is a total waste. It should be sold, and the funds transferred immediately to take care of illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities.

Like, do I really need to know all the above—and a gazillion other “breaking news” and new breakthroughs in everything under the sun—every day, every hour of every day? And if I don’t carry my laptop, then I can easily dip into all the latest data and news on my tablet or cell phone.

Enough! One simply cannot think from the weight of media force feeding my brain.

Is knowing that a volcano erupted in Guatemala essential to you? What the Premier of Canada said to the Prime Minister of Turkestan?

What are we getting at here? We have lost or are at risk of losing in today’s hyper media driven age, the ability to think.

As I think about any question, like Guatemala and volcanoes or kidnapping Christian girls to serve as Muslim prostitutes in the South Sudan, I realize of course I can answer most questions easily with a few key strokes on my cell phone. I don’t even have to type anymore. Saying “Hello Google” will take me almost instantly to my browser which will answer all questions.

“Did George Washington’s painful false teeth affect his Presidency?” And, presto, you will get a dozen answers. And if you doubt their veracity simply go to “Snopes” and they will verify just about any “fact” flying out there in Cyberspace.

Who needs schooling and thinking when you have all the knowledge of the world at your fingertips?

Ahh, you knew it. Here comes the rub: Because experience and facts and knowledge does not constitute wisdom, to invoke a phrase and explanation from Scripture.

We are used to instant analysis of data, for example, from computers, although some may take a few minutes to process large chunks of data. But we are not computers. On any big question—be it personal, political, economic, philosophical, religious, etc.—we expect quick answers like computers give us.

But the wisdom to make decisions comes from four sources: God, knowledge, facts, and experience. And you need to call on the first—God—and invoke the other three to make wise choices that affect everything from what to major in college or trade school to picking a marriage partner.

We have lost touch—but I think can surely regain it—with our long-term self, with the one who can reach back into memory and learning and experience. Sit down with a book and just read for an hour or two without tweeting or checking your email. Look into the heavens at night and wonder at the beauty and mystery of the stars. Try reading the wisdom literature in the book of Proverbs for example, although wisdom runs like a thread though the whole of the Old and New Testament.

Life is not the instantaneous effluvia of the real media or social media.

Break away for a few hours each day. Read Scripture, read a good novel, take up a how-to project, learn to play the piano, take your grandchild to the park, go back to school, learn a trade, volunteer, read biographies, try OLLI (for you in my age bracket), get back in touch with yourself and your senses. Break away from others telling you what to think and do. Do it yourself.

And if you are still cogitating on this, pick up a little book The Shack. It’s just right size for a summer read, and it will, I promise, alter your perspective for the better.

Published as “For wisdom, break away for a  while from media,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday July 1, 2018


Posted in: Technology