I had the radio on for background noise this morning & started thinking about the past... What was life like before the internet, tv & movies & telephones? What was life like before microwaves, cars & radios? Some might venture to say it was a lot harder. But was it? Maybe compared to what we have now, sure.
But think about the life of an average person a little more than a century ago- what did they do to entertain themselves? Did they sing while hauling in wood for the stove? Did they play instruments, read poetry or classic literature together? Did they invite their neighbors over for dinner & drinks to discuss the day's news? How many more "real" people did one encounter from having to go to the same general store, the same butcher, the same doctor, druggist & blacksmith year in & year out? How much more in touch were they with their communities? Did they pray together? Attend services together every Sunday? Were their children born in the beds they were conceived in? Did grandparents exist & die in the same house where grandchildren grew up? Was silence as threatening then as it seems now?
Families tended to stick together back then... everybody had a role to play. To get anywhere, you had to walk or own a horse. Things that take us moments now could take people hours to do then. They were also more physically fit. Generations of people in the community were known to one another. News was heard by word of mouth, telegraph or newspaper. Entertainment was centered on human interaction- people shared with one another their homes, food, talents... They went out to the theater to see comedies & plays. A "concert" to them was a trip to hear the symphony or local quartet. They dressed up to go out & wouldn't think of yelling at the performers unless they were at a sporting event...
Today, you could say families still stick together- via skype, phone, email & visits once a year. But its not quite the same as flesh & blood breathing the same air every day. You could say we still hear news on the internet, tv, newspapers & by word of mouth- in fact, how cool is it to know anything that's going on anywhere, at any time?! But its not quite the same because there are so many sources to choose from... Who can you trust? You may as well be inviting a stranger off the street to take care of your children. We still go to theaters & concerts, but not without some kick ass speakers, smoke & lights to keep us entertained... We experience life through filters now- tv, computer, even cell phone screens all serve to disconnect us from the source. We filter sounds through headphones or the hustle & bustle of activity around us. Our senses are bombarded. Where can you interact with another human being these days without the din of background noise or the influence of modern technology? Even home can be distracting anymore.
What has the lack of quiet & communal human interaction done to us thus far? And what are the kids of this generation going to experience when they're our age? Will they crave silence & connection? And how will they satisfy that need if we obliterate those things from practice & memory?!