How Did Life Become So Complicated?

 

How did life become so complicated? Today people stay distracted by incoming text messages and the latest Facebook statuses of their Facebook “friends.” Facebook has caused the word friend to take on a diluted meaning. The line between friends and acquaintances has become blurry. What happened to the days when friends were more than a name on a list? It seems people today find it difficult to go anywhere or do anything without “checking in”,  or creating a new Facebook “status.” If you’re forty or older, take a walk down memory lane with me. Do you ever miss the simpler life of your youth? Life was slower and less stressful. And, it wasn’t just because you were a kid with no responsibilities or bills. The whole world moved slower.

The days of my childhood in the 60’s and early 70’s were so much simpler. It was a day in time free of home computers, social media, cell phones, and high definition televisions. If you didn’t like the television show you were watching, you had to get up off the couch and turn the dial on the television. We can barely fathom having to do that today.

Do you remember writing a letter, putting a stamp on it, and mailing it? It is a practice we barely think about these days. We’ve dubbed the practice “snail mail.” The arrival of e-mail made us lazy and less personable. Even the best written e-mail can’t compare to the personal touch that bleeds through in a hand written letter.

The only home video games around were the Atari games. The video graphics were laughable compare to today’s hi-tech gaming devices. Xbox was not even a glimmer in anyone’s imagination. Most kids played outside instead of being engrossed in a computer game or social media. I miss those days. Back then, we road our bikes with reckless abandon, and nobody warned us to wear helmets. Think of the abundance of hand sanitizer you see today! We didn’t have Purell back then. I remember playing in a sandbox in my back yard that my cat Caesar also enjoyed. I don’t think I need to tell you why Caesar enjoyed it. As a six-year old kid, I was lucky if I washed my hands, much less sanitize them. Germs were the farthest thing from my mind. We didn’t worry about what foods may contain carcinogens. How did we survive? We had childhood friends we played with and spoke to in person. Friends were more than acquaintances we barely knew. There was no texting; we called them on a landline phone.

Two-income households were rare back in those  days. Today more and more people work multiple jobs to make ends meet. My mother was a stay-at-home mom; as were most of my friends’ mothers. I wonder how much today’s common practice of both parents working has negatively affected the kids of today. Parents are often too busy to invest quality time with their children.

Back then, debt wasn’t the epidemic it is today. People saved money to buy things. What an interesting idea! Credit cards were rare back then. Credit cards didn’t exist until 1950 when a man by the name of Frank McNamara created the first credit card. That card was called Diners Club. Diners Club was followed by American Express which debuted in 1959. In 1970, when I was six years old, only 15% of Americans had a credit card. Fast forward to today and we see a society overwhelmed by credit card debt; not to mention car loans, student loans, and mortgages.

Yes my friends, times have changed. The world is very different now. It is now a world of high debt, high stress, and superficial social media acquaintances we label friends. We have shifted from worrying about very little to finding it hard to not worry daily. We have become a society more connected to our electronic devices and less connected to each other.

So, what are we to do? Where do we go from here? I realize that unfortunately we must change with the times. Change is inevitable. But, we can slow down, let go of stress, avoid debt, and purposely connect. We can strive to nurture true friendships. We can work on improving friendships rather than expanding a list on Facebook. Quality time invested in a friend will change a life. Facebook can be addicting, but it won’t improve your life. How much different would our lives become if we revisited the old ways?

The next time you think to text someone, call them instead. Write a letter to a loved one and mail it. I am guilty of checking my iPhone when my wife and I are dining out. What would happen if we chose to leave our phones in the car? Perhaps we could connect more on a personal level like we used to in the “old days.” Make a decision to get out of debt and stay debt free. Save money to make major purchases rather than using credit. Change is always a choice. We do things the way we do by choice. We can choose to do some things the old-fashioned way. It may actually improve our life. I’m all for finding new ways to do things. Often new methods improve efficiency and make life easier. And honestly, most of today’s technology has greatly improved our efficiency, but not necessarily our lives.

All of this makes me think of the words of the prophet Jeremiah when he said, “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) Maybe every once in a while we should consider revisiting  the old paths. Innovation and change doesn’t always mean better. Let’s give ourselves an emotional break and simplify our lives occasionally. We might just become happier people.

Thank for reading!

Until next time, 

Mark

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