Every society is conditioned to believe that modern life, the here and now, is better than any other previous civilization in the history of mankind. Who or what determines that? ~T. Glady
Over the next few posts I’m going to explore this concept of ‘better’ based on my own observations and frustrations with the struggle to cling to a semblance of real life while embedded in the Matrix, which is not even close to being real.
Those who have only a cursory knowledge of history to compare to would argue that it is modern technology that makes things better in this era because it makes life easier.
Easier. Easiest. Easy. What does that mean? Less labor or physical exertion? Less need for time spent training, learning, preparing? Fewer hours working, more hours relaxing? Does ‘easy’ ever come with consequences? Is there no price to be paid in exchange for ease of doing?
Cherry picking a point, yes, certainly it is easier to do laundry in an electric washing machine and dryer than to scrub clothes with soap you made yourself on a washboard before you hang them one at a time out to dry. I’d definitely prefer to keep my washer/dryer. But... let’s say I had to give them up. First off, I’d quickly make some life-style adjustments, like choosing not to wash things after just one use, like towels but not like underwear. Maybe I’d change the sheets once a month instead of once a week?
I might complain a bit and recall longingly of the days when I could do three loads of clothes, washed, dried, put away in three hours while doing other things in between loading, unloading, sorting, folding and distributing back to their holding places in drawers and closets.
While doing other things. Things I have determined are more important, less tedious or just funner than doing laundry. Ease of doing laundry, which used to be a tough day’s work certainly qualifies as better. Right?
But what about those days when I know I have laundry piled up and I just can’t seem to find the time to get it sorted and the first load started? What about the days when, as I am sorting the darks, lights and in-betweens into separate piles I grumble under my breath about having to do laundry at all? Didn’t I just wash this pair of pants on Tuesday?
Fortunately, I have a built in Matrix alarm that stops me in my tracks when I dare to go down that pitted ingrates road. I take a breath and tell God how much I appreciate my washer/dryer and I have a flashback of my mom washing clothes in a wringer-washer and then being overjoyed at the upgrade to her front-load electric washer but still having to go out to the backyard and hang the heavy soggy clothes up with wooden pins on a wire line stretched between two poles. Even in the winter. Every Monday. Sometimes rainy Mondays. Wash days in my mother’s housekeeping days were relegated to Mondays. Nothing else was more important.
So, I say, “Thank You, Lord” again, knowing that without some effort or impetus, perspective that has been formed and nurtured in the Matrix is hard to reorder.
But isn’t this about as human as it gets? We are never satisfied. How soon we forget. We are easily spoiled and find things to complain about, no matter how much easier/better our lives are because of modern inventions, like electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning. Cell phones, the Internet. Gadgets, tools, faster-than-the-speed-of-light vehicles. For every modern convenience at our fingertips, for each and every moment of ‘have to’ labor freed up for a moment of unstructured time or other ‘choose to‘ activity that we deem to be time better spent, we step away from real life into a complex manufactured world where the new customary is defined by the idea of ‘EASY’. It’s an adjective fused into all the mind control advertising we are subjected to across multiple mediums night and day.
Easy to Use. Easy Button. It’s So Easy. Take It Easy. Easy Does It. The Easy Life. Super Easy. Easy Street. Easy Sneezy. Free And Easy. Quick And Easy.
In the Matrix, the goal seems to be less about elevating and refining humanity and more about simply making everything easy. Easy job, easy life. Minimal effort. Let the technology do what man once did by hand to free up man’s mind to do...more important things.
What might those important things be, one might ask? An easy life, divested of hard labor or the physical exertion that sheer survival requires, allows time for important interactions with others via Twitter and texting, and Facebook. Then there’s hours available to spend online, utilizing the instant ease of playing games or shopping or researching the nuances and reflections of the good, easy life that then can be emulated. Those are certainly important endeavors that promise to exercise and strengthen humankind’s intellect.
No one could argue that the greatest advance to civilization was the harnessing of electricity that now courses through the wires to homes and businesses making it possible to work all day and all night too, now. No need to be dependent on the light of the sun. No more boundaries of laying down the plough at dusk to go back to a hot meal with family and well-deserved rest. Artificial light also makes playing and enjoying leisure around the clock a boon to the modern civilized world. Las Vegas comes to mind, where all night is lit up as bright as day, providing lots more hours of important civilizational advancement activities.
Then there’s availability of 24/7 televised information, both fictional and fiction pretending to be real. In the Matrix most televised information is not even close to real but the citizens are desensitized so that nothing spoken is believed anyway. Whether it is news, art or sales pitch it’s all good and Easy! Disposable! Quick! Instant! Amazing! [insert favorite superlatives here].
So, back to the original question, is there a price to be paid for technology providing more leisure, and less work?
Reminds me of an old English proverb - An idle mind is the devil’s playground.
[1 Corinthians 15:58] ...Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.