A few reflections about “our time.” (HT: David Wells)
Speed is sexy, but what do we miss by going so fast? There’s no time to ponder the question.
Inventions and innovations alter the landscape of human existence. How can we properly measure the net benefit of cars and the Internet? We can’t, so we go by faith which is one of the ironies modernity presents. Modernity wants us to believe that everything is measurable, yet it is constantly creating things that defy measurement.
Everyone says they crave community, yet many of us habitually do things that impede the community we supposedly crave.
We are regularly reminded that suicide and depression are at epidemic levels. Is this a bug or feature of modern life? If it is the former, who is the exterminator? If it is the latter, what does this tell us about progress?
We live in a disenchanted world. Only the material is real. A personal God is absurd. Has shaking off the divine absurdity made us happier? Rises in suicide, breakdown of the family, depression, and other social maladies (because we can’t call them sins) should give us pause. Pausing to ponder is not in vogue among us moderns, so we go on our less than merry way.
Modernity produces ironic inconsistencies. Alan Jacobs is a literary critic and Christian. When Jacobs said he was leaving Twitter, many Christians applauded him by going to Twitter and retweeting his departure from the social media platform!
Modern non-Christians have no vocabulary for sin, so people get categorized as evil. Modern non-Christians have no vocabulary for redemption, so people get categorized as unredeemable.
Modernity extols the “virtue” of having no limits, yet proper limits are found in everything we cherish.
The love of fads and formulas, steps and strategies.
Machine-like efficiency reigns supreme.
Many admit that our gadgets have resulted in a diminished attention span. What many of us fail to admit is that attending to what really matters is threatening. It just might mean some major change needs to be made in our character or lifestyle.
Blaise Pascal said this centuries before the Internet and social media: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Now we sit alone in our rooms, but most of us are playing video games or watching things that suffocate our souls.
Since we don’t have souls, there is no worry that pornographic and other worthless material can hurt us. The “real me” is only physical.
According to Emerson, since you are an autonomous individual (department of redundancy department), you, and you alone, hold the keys to the promised land of changing your identity. Congratulations! You can be whoever you deem to be which is far better than the pathetic person you now face in the mirror every morning. It’s a sexy proposition. Many of us get snookered into believing this is really in our power.
Remaking the self is big business in America because we are amply supplied with gullible guys and gals who gladly buy the latest workout equipment, makeup, head to some exotic locale, or best of all, receive some plastic manipulation of body parts. Great effort coupled with high hopes all in the service of finding the better me.