Examining the technology of nature
So here's the setting: The warm azure water of Maundy's Bay sliding up and down bright soft sand. In the distance, the islands of St. Maarten and Saba can be seen. The blue sky above is dotted with huge white clouds that bob along propelled by a warm breeze. It doesn't get any better than this.
Yet on the beach in Anguilla, British West Indies, some human beings barely look up at the incredible vista. Their machines envelope them like Venus flytraps. They are texting, emailing and chatting with folks somewhere else on Earth.
Welcome to our brave new world.
H.G. Wells wrote a book called "The Time Machine," in which most humans were reduced to a trance-like existence, ruled by bad guys called Morlocks. You should read this book, because we are rapidly heading in that direction. By the way, the Morlocks were cannibals.
Texting is addictive. Once you get emotionally involved with constant external stimulation assaulting your brain, it is hard to stop looking at your machine every two minutes. Without rapid-fire words appearing on a screen, you feel bored, not part of the action. It really doesn't matter what is being sent to you; the fact that words are flashing in front of your eyes is hypnotizing.
Kids are the most vulnerable to the embrace of the machines. Children today don't really watch TV anymore. I mean, they still sit in front of the set, but they are texting while they're watching. They are multitasking. Thus, their concentration is divided and much is missed, and not only on the tube, but also in life.
Nature is a brilliant teacher. But how can you learn if you can't even sit on a beautiful beach without playing with a machine? Forget about thinking. No time for introspection. Nope. There are messages that have to be answered. Stuff is happening and must be acknowledged.
There is no question that communication and information flow are enhanced by the high-tech gizmos. Instantly, we can engage anyone in the world if we have their cyberspace information.
But again, if we allow the machines to dominate us, we will miss out on real life, which, in order to be fully absorbed, needs to be seen and heard. Machine distractions prevent that.
When I tell children that they are far too dependent on their gizmos, they do not deny it, but they really don't care. This is their real life: texting about trivial things, listening to numbing music on their private headphones. The machines block everything out; you create your own little trivial world.
Socrates once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." I concur. The world is a fascinating, difficult place, and in order to take full advantage of what the planet has to offer, we need to see and hear natural things.
That is if you don't want the Morlocks to get you.
Bill O'Reilly is host of the
Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor"
and author of "Killing Jesus."