Holy moly! Talk about distractions these past few weeks. I’ve been finding myself seeping away into an abyss of ‘things’: TV, Video Games, iPhone, Facebook- you name it!
It’s so strange that the timing for these distractions seemed to coincide with my wife and I becoming Youth Leaders at our local church.
Whenever we start to get involved with church or anything really that has to do with God, the waves of distractions start rolling hard against us.
“You’re paranoid bro!”
No man, trust me. You can see a pattern if you dig deep enough; however that is discussion for another time. Today we will be talking about technology distractions, and how spending too much time on them could be harming your life.
1) We will look at Mythology and one example of a distraction;
2) Smartphones and video games;
3) Lastly, how tech distractions can harm us and what we can do about it.
That’s the route we are going today, so hang on! Enjoy the read!
Sweet Sounds of Nothingness
Sweet, sweet sounds, emanating through the fog. A voice fair and lovely, stirring within thy heart. For all that hear, will soon come to find, that when you follow the sound, thus ends your life.
Catchy isn’t it?
My own little poem about the Greek Mythological creature, the Siren. Known among the Greeks and Romans as a seducing creature, a Siren would sing sweet songs and melodies from an island, entrancing nearby sailors who heard its call. Ever closer the sailors would be drawn towards the rocks where the Sirens lay and waited.
Closer and closer the vessel approaches, towards the cliffs from whence the beautiful song from came. Then suddenly before they knew what was happening, their vessel would crash into the jagged rocks, puncturing the hull as boards dislodged from the keel. Sailors scrambling in the water for the shore, only to be met by…a Siren.
Whew, that was creepy. I just gave myself goose bumps writing that. My own dislike of unpleasant seas is enough, but the idea of some beautiful, yet creepy woman, waiting on the rocks to eat m for lunch…yeah that sends shivers down my spine.
It’s funny because I assumed Sirens were beautiful creatures in mythology, but apparently (after I did a little research) Sirens were in fact depicted as half human and half bird in Homer’s “Odyssey” – not the popular mermaid imagery we have today. (https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Sirens/sirens.html) As I read through a couple of articles, my perception changed.
I thought they lured sailors to their doom by their beauty or by offering them what they wanted most.
Apparently this was not the case.
Homer depicted these creatures as half human and half bird, with no mention of beauty or any seductive feminine appearance. It was the creatures song that enticed sailors, not like their looks. Sirens (in mythology) used an outward expression of beauty through music and a seductive call, drawing their victims to their doom.
This got me thinking.
Are technology distractions any different?
If we’re distracted by looks alone, some of us could withstand that temptation. But what if we are drawn by something that stirs our inward person? A short Tiktok video that brings you laughter in a callous world or a movie scene that stirs our memories of a better time in our lie. So we start watching more and more to make us feel better.
That’s not saying that Tiktok or watching movies is bad (although some stuff is garbage, I’ll admit). The issue arises when it becomes addictive in your life, when you find yourself not being able to go without it or theres a mental “pulling” to get more of it.
I would bet that many of us, every single day, are drawn by ‘Sirens’ in our own lives; things that swallow our time and offer nothing life changing in itself. Like spending way to much time on your smartphone, streaming movies or TV shows, playing video games, or scrolling through social media.
I struggle with this as well.
Here are some fast facts on tech distractions.
The average gamer in 2020, played video games for five hours a day. While the average teenager played three hours a day. (https://techstory.in/people-spend-14-of-their-time-on-video-games-in-2020/)
I consider myself a casual gamer but those numbers are scary as it represents the average gamer .
This next one actually shocked me.
In 2021, the average user spends 4.2 hours a day on their smartphones using apps. That’s a 30% increase from two years ago (pre COVID). (https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/08/consumers-now-average-4-2-hours-per-day-in-apps-up-30-from-2019/amp/)
Those statistics do not include talking on your smartphone, just using apps only. A 30% increase since 2019! It only makes sense why Disney, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and video game companies are pumping out their own movies and shows at an insane rate…they are making a killing off of their customers.
You and me.
Looking at just those two statistics alone we can see a pattern: many people daily are swallowed by distractions. We are kept occuipied by companies making money off of us. The longer you spend on an app, the more data that is collected and then sold to third party groups.
The more you play a game, the more likely you are to spend money on Micro Transactions – small transactions that entice the consumer to pay a little money to get what you want (ex. buying a certain outfit or a special gun for a first person shooter game) for cheap.
Although the low cost looks attractive, the logic behind it makes you more likely to buy more frequently. (Google Star Wars Battlefront 2 micro transactions to see an example).
After saying all this, what is my point?
Unknowingly, we are like the sailors in the vessel being drawn to the shore by Sirens. Time swallowed. Opportunities wasted. For thousands of people mental health disorders and issues being generated at an alarming rate. Interpersonal relationships, like talking one-on-one and in-person are being assailed.
This my friends is a true pandemic, on a massive global scale.
So what on earth can be done?
🎶Let it go, let it go🎶
Oh that song….always being sung in my house! 😛
The Disney Frozen movies are quite good, but having to hear that song always on the lips of my daughters becomes quite tiring.
“Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door.” (Let It Go by Idina Menzel.)
There is some truth in that song.
Maybe we could learn to do that. Turn off our phones or silence them for a day.
Almost unfathomable, hey?
Imagine being disconnected from our smartphones for a full day. The suggestion alone seems ridiculous, but yet…there is something about that idea of unplugging, of getting away from the noise.
The Apostale Paul wrote to the Corinthian church two letters, 1 and 2 Corinthians. In the letter 1 Corinthians, chapter 6 verse 12 he said this:
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything’- but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.”1 Corinthians 6:12, NLT version.
Interesting. We hear that all the time don’t we? Do what you want, as long as it makes you happy. Commercials tell us that all the time…in order to get us to buy their product. Paul is telling us the exact opposite: you say you are allowed to do anything but not everything is good for you. He then goes on with a haymaker…I must not become a slave to anything.
Do you remember the scene from Charles Dickens book, A Christmas Carol where Scrooge is visited by Jacob Marley, his old business partner? In that scene we read that as Scrooge looks out the window of his bedroom, he sees the spirits of the dead entanlged by what were their gods where in life. Some had money safes chained to the legs, ledgers, deeds, etc. In the animated movie with Jim Carey as the voice of Scrooge, people were entangled by all kinds of things like music, cooking, any many other seemingly non addictive things.
Stave 1, Marley laments, “I wear the chain I forged in life.”
I wonder what the image from Dickens book would be like today? Smartphones chained to our hands or ears? Computers attached to our legs? Vehicles we are locked inside of?
I am not writing to be dark but yet to be real: many of us have become slaves to things which have become our gods.
Thankfully though there is hope.
We can purposefully shut off our devices, or at least limit how much time we are on them. We can choose certain days of the week to particpate in an activity, like ‘Thursday will be my game night or Friday will be my show night.’ Personally I have started this with my wife, as we have struggled with time management and distractions bombarding our lives. I have caught myself too many times, head down on my iPhone while my son played next to me alone.
This should not be; and whether we want to accept it or not, we are all forming a legacy…right now at this very moment.
How will people remember you? How will you children remember you? Distracted and always busy, with no time for them or engaged and disciplined.
Take a moment for a minute and think about that question.
How will you be remembered?
I am tired of being luke warm. Will you join me in making an effort to limit our use of technology? I honestly believe it will do us all a world of good and will improve our mental health. I also encourage you to most importantly to connect with a local church in your community or nearby town. After my wife and I became active in our local church, we found our own spiritual life and mental health increased dramatically.
You can’t just get rid of something or cut something out…you also have to replace it with something to fill that gap. What better thing to replace it with then a relationship with God who fills all our needs and desires.
Oh I almost forgot to mention.
Homer wrote that some sailors did not fall victim to the seductive songs and calls from the Sirens.
They stuck beeswax in their ears to block out the sound.
Maybe we should do the same.