George Orwell’s book 1984 painted the terrifying picture of a dystopian future where the populace were constantly watched on ‘Telescreens’ and oppressed by propaganda and ‘thought police’. It was an ugly picture, and sadly some of it we see has come true in our world.
But the more concerning prediction of the future was that of Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World, where the populace were kept in line by addictive drugs and pleasurable distractions. People willingly chased such things and forfeited their independence. It’s interesting to consider how much of this vision has been realised.
In a world that gives us the opportunity to be entertained at any time by just picking up a phone, we can find not only is all our time consumed, but it is owned by that device. We can give ourselves to the distraction, whether it’s phones or TV or whatever takes our interest, and while there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of leisure, I wonder sometimes how much is a little and how much is a lot?
I find it very hard to believe it when Google tells me the average teen spends nine hours a day on their phones, although I do note your average teen does seem to have it glued to their hands. Figures for adult use also seem to be concerningly high in my mind. Not that I think social media or games or communicating is a bad thing, it’s just that it seems we no longer have ‘down time’ to think, reflect, consider or meditate on matters. We choose rather to fill the time with entertainment. Thinking is much harder, and I’m wondering where that will ultimately lead us.
When you read books, or speeches or papers written a hundred years ago, there seems to be a content and depth to them that is rare to find these days in the world of the 30 second ‘grab’. Now, admittedly, the people who wrote a hundred years ago were more likely to be the well-schooled, intelligentsia of the day rather than your average blogger. But this trend to superficiality doesn’t bode well for the future of our society.
I wonder when the last time was you just sat and thought about stuff for any length of time? God, the world, your place in it, your purpose in life, what you want to achieve? One of the great blessings of being a Christian is being able to have a conversation with God about whatever’s going on in your life.
One of the things I enjoy about prayer is not the reeling off of a shopping list of things I want God to do, but rather talking out with him what’s going on in my life and where I am with it all. Sharing my heart and including him in my concerns and cares, is a high privilege that God uses to give me some perspective on these things as he guides my by his Spirit, and it forces me to think more deeply about what I’m talking to him about.
So next time you’re waiting for a train, instead of pulling out a game on the phone, why not take the time to talk to God about what’s happening in your life? I suspect if God’s people develop such habits, they will discover a brave new world far beyond this one.