Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Have We Lost The Ability To Be Satisfied?

Last night, as I streamed music from Spotify across the room to a Bluetooth soundbar, I thought back to the long-lost days of my childhood. Days of cassette players. Of rewinding tapes with a pencil. Of burned CDs.
Now, with a tap of a smartphone screen, I can access any song, anywhere, anytime.
Faster. Stronger. Bigger. Better.
The world as we know it has changed dramatically in my lifetime alone. Technology has vastly improved our efficiency as human beings. What have we done? Sat back, relaxed, and spent more time with our families and friends? Of course not. We’ve piled more and more on our already-burgeoning plates in a scramble to keep up with a tech-powered world that shows no signs of slowing down.
I’m writing this blog as I’m sitting in a leather seat at 35,000 feet, connected to inflight WiFi, headed from Portland to Montreal in less than 7 hours.
Technology has brought about some astounding achievements. We’re closer than ever to eradicating some deadly diseases. We’re more connected with loved ones across the world than ever before. We have eliminated the need to know by virtual encyclopedias at our fingertips. Our phones can do the work of 20 different gadgets, all for less money than a couch.
However, technology also has a dark side. And I’m not just talking about nuclear proliferation, loss of interpersonal communication skills in today’s youth, genetic modification threatening to blur the lines of what’s human in the near future, or even the autotuned career of Katy Perry.
What I’m talking about is even more dangerous, and it is this: we have lost the ability to be satisfied.
More. More. More. More. More.
We can’t simply sit and watch a breathtaking sunset anymore. Now, we have to post it to Instagram or it didn’t happen. Family dinners? Forget it. Everyone is on their phones. We want to live longer, but we do less and less of lasting value with the time we do have. We want the latest heart medication, but would rather pop a pill than stop eating cheeseburgers on the daily. Kids post Periscope videos of their friends getting raped. Everyone sits and tweets, and nobody takes action, while Bill Nye The Science Guy almost dies onstage.
America is engaged in a very crucial election. Our country is on the brink of putting the next Hitler in the White House. Yet, I guarantee you that nine out of ten Americans know more about Game Of Thrones than they do about an election with very real, very disastrous implications.
We need more. More right swipes on Tinder. More likes and loves on our Facebook posts. The best makeup, jeans, bike, phone, car, house, whatever. Still, when we get what we want, we want even more still. We battle with depression. Loneliness. Suicidal thoughts and actions. As prophet/comedian Louis C.K. puts it, “Everything is amazing, and nobody’s happy.”
Meanwhile, on our own planet, millions and millions of our fellow humans have no access to clean water, have to scavenge and beg for food, and have never heard of the Internet. They are probably happier than we are.
I’m in no way insinuating that we return to some sort of Luddite stone-age society. I’m not saying that we should stop trying to better ourselves, put a wrench in the spokes of the wheels of invention, or stop purchasing technology that improves our lives in meaningful ways. I am suggesting, though, that we will never truly be happy until we learn to be content with what we have, and content with who we are. The endless quest for more can be as addicting as any opiate. We’ve got to find a way to detox, as individuals and as a society.
When will we collectively say that enough is enough?
Elon Musk and SpaceX want to colonize Mars. Part of me thinks it’s ludicrous to invest trillions in space exploration when our own planet is a mess.
Another part of me, though, thinks that Earth is in a downward spiral from which it will never recover, and we might as well get out if we can and go screw up another world. I’d like to apologize in advance, Mars.
When will enough be enough? When will we understand that just because we can doesn’t mean we should? Can we get off this ride before we forget what it
means to be human? Can we put down our phones and enjoy the beauty this world has to offer before we ravage and kill it entirely? Can we unlearn how to
Snapchat and relearn how to actually hold a meaningful conversation?
If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on us turning this ship around.
I ask you to take a minute. Put aside your financial goals for a second. Put down your phone and tablet. Turn off your TV. And, think. Alone. Think about all the things you are grateful for. Think about the ways in which you ARE satisfied. Think about the people you love, the people who love you.
Disconnect and reconnect.
Satisfaction is a choice. Life doesn’t come with a refund policy. You can’t take it back to the store if you’re not satisfied. As Jim Carrey said so profoundly, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
What is the answer, then? What are we all looking for? I can’t answer that question for you, but I can answer it for myself. I crave a simple, authentic life. I want to collect experiences, not things. I want genuine relationships with God, my family, and my friends. I want to make a difference, tangibly, whether big or small.
Maybe you can’t put the brakes on society as a whole. Maybe you can’t change the world in a monumental way. But you can change your world. Choose to find happiness in the things that matter. Choose life.
Enough is enough.