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Are We Too Dependent On Technology?

I’m currently representing an elderly woman who was injured in an accident. When I met with her recently to discuss her case, she brought her nine-year-old grandson with her. After we were finished talking about her case, I asked her grandson what he wants to be when he grows up. He hesitated for a moment, and then his grandmother said, “Go ahead and tell him. He wants to be a YouTuber.”

I’m not sure what a YouTuber is. I assume that it’s a person who posts videos on YouTube for others to see. The grandson may believe that he can someday make a good living by posting videos on YouTube.

After hearing that the grandson wanted to be a YouTuber, I asked him what his favorite subject is in school. He answered, “Science.” I then asked him if he had ever heard of Albert Einstein and he said no. After I told him that Albert Einstein was a famous inventor, I said, “If your grandmother bought you a book about Einstein, would you read it?” He answered yes. I looked at his grandmother and asked her if she was willing to buy him a book about Einstein. She smiled and said yes. She seemed pleased that I was encouraging her grandson to expand his knowledge.

I also suggested to the grandmother that she look into buying an electronics set from a hobby store for her grandson to experiment with. I then mentioned that when I was her grandson’s age, I spent a lot of time experimenting with hooking up batteries to small motors, fans, lights, and switches, which taught me some valuable lessons about how electricity works.

Whenever I shop for a gift for one of my grandchildren, I make a special effort to buy a hands-on, experiential gift. I would prefer that my grandchildren not waste their time playing computer games or watching videos. In my opinion, it’s only through actual hands-on experiences with people, objects, and tasks that we develop the foundational knowledge that is needed for solving problems and challenges that will come up in the future.

In the heart of Silicon Valley there’s a small school — Waldorf School of the Peninsula — where the employees of giant technology companies such as Apple, Google, and Yahoo send their children. Silicon Valley is the area in Northern California where numerous high-technology design and manufacturing companies are located. The name, Silicon Valley, came from the silicon wafers that are used to build the semiconductor devices that are found in computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices.

Despite the fact that the school is located in what some consider the technology capital of the world, the students are not allowed to use some of the most technologically advanced consumer devices that are available: smartphones, iPads, and computers. Instead of electronic devices, the teachers use a hands-on, experiential approach to learning. According to one article about the school, this type of learning places an emphasis on “the role of imagination and learning and takes a holistic approach that integrates the intellectual, practical, and creative development of pupils.”

When the people who work for the top technology companies in the world doubt the value of electronic devices in education, those of us who have children should ask this question: What do these people know that we don’t know and why do they treat their children’s education differently than do the majority of parents in the United States?

I can say with certainty that the accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and problem-solving skills that I’ve developed over the years have been derived primarily from hands-on, experiential learning. Every time I assess a situation or solve a problem, I tap into my life experiences to come up with the best answer or solution that is available. I very seldom find myself referring to something that I learned in a classroom, unless the classroom experience involved hands-on experience.

I am constantly amazed by how little knowledge most people possess. I believe that there’s a general attitude among many people that they don’t really need to learn anything new. In their minds, if they need to find something out, they can ask Siri or Amazon Echo for the information they need. Or they can search Google or pull up a YouTube video to learn how to do something that in previous generations would’ve been taught to them while they were growing up.

Prior to the sin of Adam and Eve, they never experienced pain or suffering, and there was no need for them to work. Unfortunately, because of their “original sin,” all of us must now work and toil to stay even or get ahead. We must also endure pain and suffering. We know this because of what Almighty God said to Adam and Eve after they sinned:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

And to the man He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”…

…therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3:16-19; 3:23.

While there are a lot of advantages to having access to information, people, and events through our handheld devices, those devices can never act as a substitute for the grueling work and the pain and suffering that is a necessary part of our very existence.

A lot of people are using modern technology to engage in useless and valueless activity, which allows them to avoid some or all of the necessary work that is required of them. They waste valuable time and resources when they could be using their time and resources to gain new knowledge about God and the people around them, while assisting others through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Those who attempt to escape the pain, suffering, and work that are required of them often end up taking prescription or illegal drugs with the hope that those drugs will alleviate their anxiety, depression, and emotional distress. The majority of those people would be better off developing the knowledge and skills that are necessary to manage and cope with their pain and suffering. They would also be better off if they stopped avoiding the work that is required of them. If they did that, they would find that their relationships, emotional well-being, self-worth, and financial condition would improve dramatically.

What choices are you making on a daily basis by your actions? Are you avoiding the work that is required to maintain your household and prepare for your future? Are you avoiding the work that is required to engage in an active prayer regimen and to gain the knowledge that is necessary for you to grow in your love of God and neighbor? Are you diligently working on improving your ability to manage and cope with the inevitable pain and suffering that you will experience in the future?

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One Response to “Are We Too Dependent On Technology?”

  1. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Georgette and Harry –
    A very thought-provoking set of questions! As I read your explanations, I thought back to my up-bringing, which was so much simpler than what families face today. Sitting along-side my Mother as she crocheted – trying to imitate her motions, but failing, because of my being left-handed…years later, while sitting across from one of my Sisters as we “recreated”; {this was time when we could converse,instead of our ordinary time of prayer and doing other activities, such as teaching school…} Sister was crocheting a baby-bracelet in which she included a medal of Our Blessed Mother, she reached across the table and handed her crocheting to me and told me to do exactly the motions she had been doing with the yarn and crochet hook – which I did, and so I learned HOW to crochet – my left hand doing what her right hand had been doing. Interesting!! Back in the 30’s and 40’s we didn’t have technology to contend with!! Loved your explanations above…and love both of you, too! Sister Roberta

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