Sayonara Single Use Simplicity

Goodbye cameras that were only cameras.

Goodbye telephones that didn’t function as a calculator, a watch, a stock checker, a minicomputer, a notepad, a weather forecaster, a roadmap and navigator, recorder, video camera, and everything else our modern cell phones do.

Goodbye simplicity.

There used to be something very satisfying in having single-use objects. In fact, I crave those simpler times. It seems to me that the “easier” we have made our lives with these multi-functional devices, the busier we have become, the more reliant we have made ourselves on their functions.

There was a time that I could recite nearly a hundred phone numbers off the top of my head – even Irish numbers with country codes. Recently, I realized that I’d be really stuck if I didn’t start memorizing them again because, though I knew house numbers from 15 years ago, I didn’t know how to reach anyone today!

I miss my wristwatch. I miss how unharassed I used to feel. Bombarded by news I don’t like. Battered by emails I don’t want. Blasted by telemarketers whose business I don’t desire and beaten-down by the constant calls for my attention emitted from a two-by-five inch electronic device I’d like to throw in the river but can’t because I need it!

I totally understand people who go and live off the grid. I would too if it weren’t so inconvenient.

As a teacher, I waged war against cell phones in the classroom when I was not having students use them in a lesson. As a parent, I do battle with the cell phones that sneak upstairs at night instead of staying in their assigned charging spot away from children who should be sleeping. As a spouse, I struggle with not succumbing to the ease of texting my husband in the other room because I’m too busy to walk up or down or over to talk face to face or to reply in kind.

I often think that all this technology is doing far more harm than good. Though Proverbs 16:25 may seem extreme, there might be something there. In our constant quest to make things easier, more convenient, we have lost out on quality, on safety, on care.

I read an article not long ago about many black hair care products include harmful chemicals – far more, in fact, than hair care products designed for white people. I read another about sea life dying because of our use of plastics – straws, bags, containers. I watched an interview with one of the founding architects of Facebook in which he discussed the complete absence of electronics in his home because of the damage he was afraid it would inflict on his children. As a teacher, I saw firsthand how some of my students would literally go into withdrawal and have difficulty functioning if I temporarily confiscated their phones for the class. In our rush to make things “easier” how have we hurt ourselves and our children. The foods we eat are often mass-produced, genetically modified, covered in pesticides, or harmful to our bodies or the planet, all in the name of convenience.

Even if it is sometimes harder, or more expensive, maybe simple is better.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 16:25

Photograph courtesy of my lovely daughter.

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