Living in the Computer Age

Saying that the world has come a long way since the advent of the computer is a vast understatement and though no one questions the distance we’ve all come, some, including myself, wonder about the direction.

It is a staggeringly different world than when I was young and in school and striving to get my speed up to 80 words per minute on an electric typewriter. So much of the progress that has come about as a result of the electronic infiltration of our world has been good but a high price has been paid in many areas. True, people are able to get specific information at the touch of a fingertip that would have been difficult or at least much more time consuming to acquire at an earlier time. Students are able to accomplish a lot more than ever before and people can handle much heavier workloads with the aid of a computer, however, what has been gained in accessibility and speed has been greatly compromised by a loss of personal interaction and decline of human relationships.

It’s sad to see young people glued to their computer screens for hour after hour playing action games instead of being involved personally with other young people. They lose a lot of the valuable experience of forming friendships and relationships that can be such an asset to their lives. Many of the youth of today are not nearly as well rounded as those of earlier times and often are not as healthy as they spend too much time sitting and staring at a monitor rather than moving and using their bodies. Being overweight is a significant problem with a high percentage of our young people now and is a direct result of too much inactivity along with a high fat, low nutrient based diet.

The same is true for a large number of adults who are less active and in worse physical shape now than ever before. Moderation can be a great ally in most areas of our lives. We should use what is available and take advantage of improved techniques and modern conveniences without being consumed by them. It’s hard to find the correct balance but it is important to keep working at it. Pulling back when you’re in the midst of a whirlwind of tasks to be completed and problems to be addressed and looking again at the big picture helps to keep the right perspective. Paying proper attention to the things that are the most important to us is critical. At a recent commencement ceremony for the graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, the special guest speaker was Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and Ceo of Google. He had this to say to the graduates; “turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us. Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps”.

In those two sentences lie a profound truth and volumes of wisdom. Mankind has been intelligent enough to invent amazingly efficient machines that can be an enormous aid to our lives. Let’s hope it’s also intelligent enough not to let those machines jeopardize or take the place of what is or should be paramount in our lives.