And What Have We Gained (Besides This New iPhone)?

This quote embodies all of the thoughts I've had as I watch a spinning globe, tilting out of control, trying to keep up with an increasingly faster-paced way of life:

"You call your thousand material devices 'labor-saving machinery,' yet you are forever 'busy.' With the multiplying of your machinery you grow increasingly fatigued, anxious, nervous, dissatisfied. Whatever you have, you want more; and wherever you are you want to go somewhere else...

You have a machine to dig the raw material for you...a machine to manufacture...a machine to transport...a machine to sweep and dust, one to carry messages, one to write, one to talk, one to sing, one to play, one to vote, one to sew...and a hundred others to do a hundred other things for you, and still you are the most nervously busy man in the world...your devices are neither time-saving or soul-saving machinery."

This quote was written over 40 years ago, and is even truer today. Machines have invaded our lives. We're taught that we need them to survive, as you've heard some half-jokingly say, "I can't live without my phone!"

The list of 'machines' is nearly endless: iPhones (for which I'm guilty), televisions, computers, mini-computers, online classes (this disturbs me greatly), and so on and so on.

We've essentially gained the whole world, right? Electronically we are impressive. But what is the cost? It's no enigma that crumbling community has been on the rise with all the added technology. When a computer becomes the go-to confidant over a human, there is a tragedy unfolding before us.

What I am getting at, and what the above quote is getting at, is not the abundance of machines; but rather, the loss of our souls because of it.


Often times, I know my rants are harsh and edging on absolute. I've become grumpier in my old age. Even when I pull a time travel on my blog and visit posts past, there is a bright-eyed, more optimistic Ashley to be found. While I like to still think I have some optimism, I've lost a lot of my 'there's beauty to be found in everything' attitude...

I'd like to go back to that place, I think.


  1. What's really interesting is my friend who is in South Africa with the Peace Corp is constantly on Facebook on her iPhone, but still takes a bath in a bucket. Cell phones: yes. Showers: no.

    I do have to say my iPod Touch is awesome because I have PDFs of all my knitting projects I'm working on and an app where I can track what row and stuff I'm on, so I can easily pick up where I left off and not have to carry around patterns or magazines. And because of this, I pretty much can't knit without it.

  2. haha, great story about your friend. :)

    My only concern is that we've become obsessed with gadgets. So much so that we interact more with them than with actual humans.

    Or maybe I'm more worried for the new generations...

  3. online classes greatly disturbing? I guess lets make it harder for working professionals and single parents to advance their education then huh?

  4. I meant from the standpoint of what education truly is, and what it has become. It is missing the elements of a great class dynamic. Computers cannot fill this void.

    The school I work at has all night classes and still caters to the working adult. I do not think online classes can EVER take the place of an onsite class.

    While it might be necessary for some to take online classes, I do not, and NEVER WILL believe that it can offer the same level of education that an onsite class offers.

  5. mmmmm. iPhooones.

    but other than that i agree with you. when people turn to technology instead of friends and family who are eager and willing to listen, we have a problem. yes, friendships can be established online (bloggers unite!) and degrees can be earned (creepy to me too) but it's not the same. machines help us but mankind shapes us.

  6. Profound and compelling post.

    I think about this paradox. Through the advent of the internet (thanks again Al Gore, we owe you a solid), I know lots of things about you, your life, your experiences, your aspirations, and your apprehensions. That's true even though I've never met you, don't know what your voice sounds like, or know if you have a solid handshake (or one of those creepy, mushy handshakes like you spend all your time playing Halo and therefore have a gelatin-soft body). Yet, I don't know the people who live in two of the four houses next to mine. Ok that's not really a paradox. I just wanted to use that word.

    I thought I had a point, but must have forgotten it.

    Technology does "free" us, but we pay a price in humanity.

  7. I think of that often and that's a lot of the reason I refuse to upgrade to smartphone. My dumbphone does exactly what I need it to do. I'm certainly questioning whether I need or even want facebook anymore. I'm definitely ready to regress a little and to embrace 'less is more'.