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Has Our Technology Exceeded Our Humanity?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

I never go to shopping malls anymore but I ventured in a couple weeks ago. Back when we did go shopping, I remember leisurely strolls through the corridors, pausing to look in windows or browse through different stores. Not anymore! The merchants --- merchandise hawkers --- have moved into those corridors and assault anyone trying to pass. Naively trying to be polite, I had the skin on my hands defoliated by salt from the Dead Sea, lost all sense of smell from being hosed down by smell-alike perfume knock-offs, considered an acupressure treatment for my back, dodged several remote-controlled Blackhawk helicopters and rogue Santas on miniature ATVs, refused to have my picture instantly appear on matching lampshades that would be perfect for everyone on my Christmas list, and then didn't even blink when I discovered you could get your teeth whitened right outside the Apple Store.

This must be what it's like to be that little metal ball in a pinball machine. Lights! Sound! Rocketing back and forth, seemingly out of control. I did not like it but I could feel the pull, the seduction of being submerged in never-ending stimuli. You would never have to think. Not ever be responsible. Not have to make decisions --- just be swept along.

Albert Einstein said "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity".

Einstein died more than 60 years ago. What do you suppose he would say today?

Exceeded? Our technology is creating a disconnect with our humanity. It's putting us into a state where we require more and more stimuli, and we rarely allow ourselves a break. How many people do you know who even sleep with the TV blaring and the lights on?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit New York City. I love being there and I had a great time. But I had one of those "moments" walking through Times Square. I found myself surrounded by all of these gigantic video screens, bombarded by noise from cars and people and blaring speakers, jostled by thousands of people on the sidewalks. At one point, I remember looking up and thinking that if there were only flying vehicles above it could be the set of that awful, awful Harrison Ford movie from the early 80's, Blade Runner. One of the things I disliked most about that movie was its depiction of the future --- and here I was, standing right in the middle of it!

Is this how we want to spend the next half of our lives? I like my computer and my cell phone and all the new gadgets that come out just as much as the next person but I'm not willing to lose myself in them. There has to be a way to find a balance.

Anyone who knows me, personally, knows that I'd be in trouble if they closed the drive through window at Chick-fil-a. I don't care what anyone says, cooking for one is no fun and if you're going to eat fast food then theirs is the best. So, sometimes it annoys me that they are closed on Sundays. But, while I may not agree with founder and CEO S. Truett Cathy's reasoning that God operates on a seven-day calendar week and after spending the first six days creating everything, declared the seventh to be a day of rest, I kind of like the concept. I think we all could use a day where we shift our focus.

Yes! Magazine recently explored the concept of a "Secular Sabbath" which they define as a digital day of rest. The following is from How to Have a Secular Sabbath on their website:

If you're interested in implementing your own Secular Sabbath, here are some guidelines:

  • Choose your time.
    A secular sabbath is a digital day of rest. It can be any day of the week, just whatever works for you. It can be more than 24 hours-you might end up extending it to an entire weekend sometimes.
     
  • You make your own rules.
    That means you decide what you'll give up. Some people forsake all technology, including phone and TV. Others use it at as "computer turn off" day. It's up to you what you give up, but if you find yourself dreading doing without a particular thing for 24 hours, that's probably a good sign that you need a rest from it.
     
  • Get to know yourself again.
    Remind yourself of the non-tech things you like to do, and do those things. That may sound strange, but for those of us who live by technology, we sometimes forget the simpler pleasures in life-going fishing, knitting, gardening, going to the dog park, having lunch with a friend. Before your secular sabbath write down some things you want to do on that day so that when the withdrawal symptoms hit, you'll have a backup plan. 
  • Expect withdrawal pains.
    One way to look at it is if you're experiencing an intense longing for your email or IM or whatever, you're doing the right thing by taking a day away. The symptoms will fade each week that you do this, and you may actually find yourself looking forward to your day of rest.
     
  • Focus on the benefits.
    A sense of inner calm. Being able to hear yourself think. Reconnecting with family, friends and nature. Rebooting a favorite hobby. All of these are benefits that go along with creating balance in your life.

 

We all wish for a more peaceful world for ourselves and our loved ones. Maybe the key is to start a little closer to home and bring peace into our own lives. At least one day a week...

 

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Okay, be honest. Did you think about giving that secular sabbath thing a try? And, if you did, was there something that instantly sprang to mind --- something you don't believe you could put down and turn off for an entire day? Tell us about it at admin@onthegayhorizon.com .

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 "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

  Confucius

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

It's that time of year again.  Time to get real with yourself.  Make a list.  Winnow it down to your top 5 resolutions. 

Is getting healthy and fit one of them? 

If so, put this OTGH (hey, Karen, we should name the newsletter!) on your list.  Each week of 2009, we will present you with one small thing you can do that week to bring you closer to your goal of good health and well-being. 

And if you take us up on it, by this time next year, you will have made nearly 52 changes to your life, and hopefully to the way you feel about your life.  And you will have absorbed the changes the easiest way possible --- gradually.

We'll present you with ideas about modifying your eating habits and your movement habits to help you align your actions with your goal.

We call it Gradual Fitness/Fitness This Year/Healthy Habits/BodyMind Unplugged.....something.  We'll come up with something. 

Whaddaya think? 

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor. She is currently working on a new book for GLBT baby boomers --- Lighten Up! How to Exercise Safely and Effectively After 50]

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Name the newsletter? What do you suppose she means? Like George? No, I think that's already been done. Names are important. I always wanted to name a cat "Percy". That was my grandfather's name --- Percy Foster Allen. Some great names in my family. There were these three aunts --- Belle, Maude and Hattie. My brother always said it sounded like a team of mules.

But I digress. Perhaps this newsletter should have its own name.

Suggestions?

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Now here's something you may have never asked yourself?

Are you a sexual jihadist? 

 

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