Saturday 16 July 2011

Are Things Really Amazing?

Victoria, over at Beauty in the Ordinary, has providing me with some interesting food for thought. In this case, it's "Louis C.K." appearing on Conan O'Brien's show.

Louis comments on the amazement of flying, the old way of doing this with credit cards, super-fast touch tone phones and hand-held devices, that take a second or two, and goes on to talk about how people complain when these things don't work perfectly and immediately. His point is that so many things in life are amazing, but nobody is happy, despite all these "amazing" things.

Somehow, I feel a misplaced sense of amazement. My question in response: Do these amazing things really make life better? What qualities of life — what core qualities of life — are improved? Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Compassion? Kindness?

I guess I feel electronic gadgetry and high-flying aircraft may be amazing one one level, and not amazing at all on a much more profound level. To me, it seems like a miss-match.

Consider this. On its first night, the new Harry Potter movie took in about $43 million. Not bad for a movie, I guess. (Yes, I know Potter has a cult-like following, which accounts for this phenomenal income. I can virtually hear the "Oohs" and "Aahs.")

But my next question is: How much of that $43 million was sent to feed, house and provide medical care about ten million people, including two million children, who are hurt and starving in the drought-torn "horn of Africa"? (It's along Africa's east coast.) It is a huge humanitarian crisis, to which most people are only beginning to awaken. And there are predictions that the civil war and drought in Somalia may drive even more thousands into Nigeria. It is currently dealing with almost 400,000 refugees, who could entirely overwhelm Nigeria's strategy and ability to cope.

Ironically, we have extravagant pleasure and enormous pain existing in our world, at the same time, virtually side by side. The "electronic gadgetry" has brought those two things together. But if we have a narrow focus, we can miss the pain and hunger, or dismiss it as something inconvenient to our lives. Electronic gadgetry does not necessarily serve us well in this regard, nor does it necessarily serve those who suffer.

We might rightly be amazed but scientific advances, but do they make us more human, and more sensitive to the needs of others?


  1. Well I've always said "Technology will be the downfall of our society as we know it."
    Except for blogging, I barely use the computer. As for cell phones, I have a love hate relationship with them. My husband is an over the road truck driver. Cell phones allow us to talk whenever we want to. But I don't care about all of the bells and whistles.
    With all of the profit these companies make all of us, surely they could give us the option to donate a portion don't you think? Just a thought! Love Di ♥

  2. ® Diana: Technology as the downfall of our society? Possibly. Probably, even. Certainly a source of change. And not necessarily change for the better.

  3. These amazing things let us know when things the far side of the world happen...and help us dothings to make it right, or at least try to make it right...

  4. Very thoughtful, indeed.
    What makes us happy is our own accomplishments, our own endeavors, to produce, to aid, to make life better.

  5. Years ago the only people who knew about the desperate and starving parts of the world were the missionaries who spent their lives trying to help them. The method of getting financial help was limited to the missionaries coming home on furlough and crossing the country with their sad slideshows and begging people to give.

    I believe that technology has made a really huge difference in allowing more of us to see how others live and respond with our money and our time. Look at all the wonderful volunteer help that went to recent disaster areas. In days of old, we simply would not have known about earthquakes and floods in other parts of the world. I say yay for technology!

  6. I think technology may be the only thing that can save the world. Over-population is what will be our downfall.
    Meanwhile, I find networks like Facebook demoralizing and a waste of time.
    I am in love with blogging.

  7. Overall, no, I don't think technology makes us more sensitive to the suffering happening around the world. But I do think that if it's used right, it can help people who need it by at least making others realize what's going on.

  8. As with all things technology is fine when used in moderation, but I think that we have got to the point where it is now over used. This is because technology is now so clever. So in a way it is not surprising that it is over used. Setting limitations on the use of technolgy would be difficult, but for the individual it is a matter of discipline. Sometime the old fashioned long way round it better.

  9. I agree with Brenda Susan above and it seems that "everyone" in Nigeria has a cell phone. Electronics are big in the developing world and perhaps their only means of getting informed via texts etc. I understand what you're saying and in a way it's scary, but I'm sure in the early 1900's there were just as many complaints about something considered "modern" then that would hurt society. Don't know enough history to say what though. A very thought provoking post.

    As always, I truly appreciate your comments. They are the things which "make" the blog. Thank you!

    A couple of questions. Which may, or may not, choose to answer.

    1. Did the social media give you a better understanding of the problem in the Horn of Africa than did the commercial media?

    2. What have you decided to do in response to what you have seen about the problems in the Horn of Africa?


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