Life in the 21st century: checking email dozens of times a day—receiving and sending text messages by cellular phone at any time—accessing the Internet in an airplane 36,000 feet above the ground—checking the weather report on a handheld device—learning of news as it breaks through cable television and news websites—taking and sending photographs through a cellphone—finding wireless hotspots to access the Internet—instant messaging friends and family—blogging—communicating through social networking sites—receiving and reading personal feeds from dozens of newspapers and other sources around the world—building playlists and listening to songs on an MP3 player—using a small ear piece to talk on the phone with greater flexibility in the car, in the grocery store…
Technology’s fingerprints are everywhere. Electronic devices of every sort have formed the foundation of modern life. It is hard to comprehend how much the availability of these devices has changed over the past few decades. Almost everyone today has a mobile phone, a device that did not exist 40 years ago. Personal computers are commonplace, both at home and in the workplace. The Internet alone has created a number of virtual devices that now play a vital role in daily life.
Technology continues to rapidly change. As soon as you buy the latest phone, a newer model with more gadgets, a larger screen and better connectivity, another version is released. As soon as you think you have purchased the thinnest laptop, a thinner one is available. When you have finally made the move from VHS to DVD, you learn that you now have to consider moving up again, to Blu-Ray. You can’t imagine there will be bigger TV screens, but there always are. It is hard to comprehend smaller MP3 players, but there always are. In the Western lifestyle, there is an unsaid expectation of “What’s next?” And we can say with confidence that there always is a “next,” a “latest.”
There are no indications that the importance and predominance of new technology will subside.
What would happen if the world did not have electricity for an entire day—or worse, a week? What if every electronic device stopped working? Companies would cease to function. Transportation would grind to a halt. Grocery stores would be unable to stock their shelves. Our world as we know it would collapse. Chaos would ensue so quickly, it would be hard to fathom.
Human beings have become dependent on technology.
Consider your own circumstances. What part does technology play in your day-to-day living? Do you find yourself checking your email incessantly? Do you feel somewhat unsettled at the thought of your inbox filling up? Have you ever been in your home office or work office when your computer was turned off? Was the silence deafening—almost unnatural? Do you often find yourself surfing the Internet, or on your favorite chair surfing television channels? Could you turn off your cellphone for one day—or one hour? Could you go without the Internet at the same time?
Mindless distractions: Millions are so connected to and reliant upon technology that they are distracted from leading productive lives.Source: Getty Images
Technology has been mobilized to allow employees to become more efficient and effective in the workplace. To successfully compete, companies and employees must utilize every device available. In many ways, it is surprising what an employee can accomplish. Just picture a common occurrence on Western city streets: a man or woman walking to work, talking on the phone and checking email on his or her PDA—all at the same time.
But work is not the only area that has been affected. Human beings have grown accustomed to always being connected. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 62% of Americans are involved in some form of digital activity away from home or work! Nearly half access the Internet when not at work or home. People are no longer left with their own thoughts. They are always moving on to the next thing, the next digital connection.
When home, Westerners spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the television, often watching mindless entertainment. They also spend time aimlessly surfing the Internet. Consider one shocking statistic: According to worldometers.info, in the first three months of 2008, human beings have spent—wasted—seven trillion hours waiting for web pages to download!
Additionally, children are practically being reared by electronics. Many simply go from one device to another, to another—from the television, to the Game Boy, to the iPod, and back again.
Numerous behavioral problems result from this constant connectivity. The end-result is that children are never taught to simply think. They always have something bombarding their senses. Their own thoughts are foreign to them. What will happen when these children become adults?
If you do something long enough, it eventually becomes a habit. For example, many office workers probably unconsciously immediately check their mail whenever they hear an email message come through. When you are stuck in a habit, it is very hard to do something different. However, this habit of always being connected will slowly but surely engulf every aspect of your life.
Another result is that individuals are losing any sense of quiet or solitude. There is no balance or moderation in life. No time to think—to stop and “smell the roses.” When people are running from one thing to another, there isn’t time to assess situations, make wise decisions, enjoy moments in life, build friendships, etc.
Also, people become unproductive. In an effort to become ever more productive, people are so connected to technology that it actually becomes a distraction, an interruption. There are no long periods of time for focusing on bigger decisions, problem solving, etc. Days become full of interruptions rather than productivity.
If human beings remain connected 24/7, life will pass them by. It will turn into one continual, nonstop blur—like the posters on the walls of subway stations being passed at full speed.
Some have come to realize the toll of this 21st-century lifestyle. There have been certain movements to combat this always-plugged-in way of living. One is “Information environmentalism.” In effect, as the term implies, people should be concerned with their information environment. One man is calling for a “blackout Sabbath” on June 21, 2008. He recalled the sense of relief he felt when the power was out in New York City in 2003.
Another term that is beginning to grow popular is “secular Sabbath,” a day when people disconnect all their devices for one day each week. No Internet, no computer, no phone, no MP3 player, no television, etc. Those who have tried this realize that, at first, it is difficult. But in the end they benefit from it.
The term “secular Sabbath” comes from the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), observed in Judaism and by some Christian groups, a day when labor is not performed. Similarly, many professing Christians consider Sunday as their Sabbath, but most do not keep it in the sense of not working, turning things off, etc.
A writer for The New York Times, in a quest to apply a “secular Sabbath” in his life, wrote an article on his experience. This is how he concluded the article: “I would no more make a new-agey call to find inner peace than I would encourage a return to the mimeograph. But I do believe that there has to be a way to regularly impose some thoughtfulness, or at least calm, into modern life—or at least my version. Once I moved beyond the fear of being unavailable and what it might cost me, I experienced what, if I wasn’t such a skeptic, I would call a lightness of being. I felt connected to myself rather than my computer. I had time to think, and distance from normal demands. I got to stop.”
This quote summarizes the concept of a secular Sabbath well. It gives one the opportunity to stop and think. It’s a chance to be disconnected from a computer and get in tune with other aspects of one’s life.
But this is not the real solution.
Mankind has been cut off from God for 6,000 years. Humanity has refused to listen to God’s Laws—human beings have ignored the “instruction manual” God gave His creation—the Holy Bible.
Knowledge continues to increase each day, creating a high-speed approach to life. The prophet Daniel foretold this: “…many will run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12:4). People no longer have time to think!
God actually instructs human beings to “think”! To meditate!
Meditation is not the act of daydreaming or letting your mind wander—and it is not dozing in a comfy chair either. Meditation involves conscious control of your thoughts, which most people have a difficult time doing, and many do not even know how.
Find a quiet place, perhaps in your room on your bed with the door closed: “When I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches” (Psa. 63:6).
Or take a stroll or long walk in a park: “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide” (Gen. 24:63).
Carefully focus on Philippians 4:8 and practice it: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Only positive results can come from meditating properly. Studies have shown that when people meditate for brief periods during the day (even if they are not meditating on God), their stress level decreases. Individuals with high blood pressure are able to lower it by relaxing and thinking about pleasant, uplifting thoughts.
It is somewhat ironic to see human beings attempting to find solutions to their problems that result in something similar to what God explained thousands of years ago. After millennia of learning the hard way, human beings will occasionally stumble upon something that, if they were listening in the first place, they could have learned from and saved themselves much trouble.
When God created mankind in Genesis, He also created the Sabbath: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:1-3).
God, who created everything, certainly did not need to rest. Since He is all powerful, He does not experience fatigue or weariness. However, He rested on the seventh day to set an example of what humans beings are to do.
Most have heard of the Ten Commandments, but few know them—and even fewer practice them. Notice the fourth commandment: “Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Ex. 20:9-11).
How many people actually keep the Sabbath as God designed it? Most Christians believe Sunday is the correct day (read our book Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath? to learn which day is correct), but they do not even know what it means to correctly keep the Sabbath. The fourth commandment clearly states that you should not work on this day. By extension, this also applies to other regular weekly activities, such as grocery shopping, working around the home, etc. How many truly take a day off, as they should—as they are commanded? How many people disconnect from their weekly activities and reconnect with their Creator?
What most people do not understand is that human beings were designed to take one day off every seven days. You will get far more accomplished, and be a far more productive and happy human being if you work six days and keep the Sabbath, rather than working seven days a week. The high-paced lifestyle of today proves this!
Do you want to become a success? Do you want to become more productive? Prove that you should keep the Sabbath, and start doing so! You will find that you will be blessed as a result. The benefits will astound you. This article is too short to address all the ways that you will profit, but you will!
(To learn how to keep the Sabbath, read our articles “Why the Sabbath Command to Assemble?” and “How to Make the Sabbath a Delight.”)
So, take the step. Unplug yourself from society’s rat-race lifestyle and all your electronic devices, and keep the true Sabbath as it was meant to be kept. You will benefit beyond measure.