Sunday, November 13, 2011

Media Distractions

Wake up to the alarm on my cell phone, open my computer to check facebook and my email, get ready for the day while watching TV, drive to work while checking my words with friends, get to work and open my work email, sit at a computer all day while listening to music and podcasts on my phone, check my facebook and email on my phone during my lunch break, get home and get on my personal computer and check facebook and my email, spend a good majority of the night watching TV whilst reading articles online, watching YouTube videos, and chatting online.  Oh did I mention that I was texting during this whole process too.

Do you see a pattern in here?  The whole day I am constantly barraged with multiple sources of entertainment, media, information, distractions.  It’s hard to find a moment when I am not connected to at least one source of digital media and for at many times I am connected to multiple sources of digital media.  Does this sound at all slightly familiar to your life?  To some degree it probably does. 

When do we find time to digest and process all of this information?  I find myself knowing a little bit about everything but knowing little about anything.  Most topics in the news I can at least acknowledge that I have heard or read something about it but yet I find myself unable to articulate intelligent thoughts about those topics.  I feel our society has grown too attached to digital media.  I find myself and others checking our phones when we know there is nothing to check but yet we flip through the screens falsely deceiving ourselves and others around us that we are busy and productive.   Why do we do this? 

I have heard the counsel many times from church leaders and others that we need to unplug ourselves from the media.  I believe it was Gordon B Hinckley who encouraged us to take a few hours to simply ponder and do nothing else.  I have understood this principle but yet I have fallen trapped to the snare of digital media and have found myself with little time to ponder.  Detaching ourselves from media gives us time to process the information we have already received.  That helps us to gain a more deeper and intimate understanding of that information and it helps us to more clearly articulate that information to others.  Also taking time to ponder helps us understand what is important to us in life, it helps us sort out our goals and emotions, thoughts, and ideas. 

The times when I read a book, read an article, listen to a talk, or whatever and then take some time afterwards to go over what I had just received, the ideas and information become clearer and I am able to understand, recall, and articulate that information more effectively.   It’s a refreshing and great experience unlike the hundreds of news flashes and facebook posts I go through in a day, which I usually end up not internalizing or remembering.  It makes me want to do a Walden Pond type retreat like Thoreau. 

I encourage all of you to take some time each day to turn off the TV, cell phone, and computer and sit down and just think about life, think about something you learned that day, think about how you feel in your current situation, and think about the lives of others around you.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Sorry but I wrote this kind of quickly but hopefully it has some coherency.

This is still a relatively young movement but that is growing popularity.  Although they have no concrete purpose or resolution, some of the ideas that they have brought up inspire some interesting questions and it also inspired my Halloween costume for this year. 

Many people are frustrated with the lack of jobs, poverty, and income inequality prevelant in America today. A big part of the cause for the recent recession was due to practices occurring at banks and wall street.  The same banks that “failed” were so called “too big to fail” and received government bailout money, while many hardworking Americans had to suffer the blunt force of the recession through lower wages, longer hours, losing their jobs, and struggling to find work.  So while big corporations are paying their top executives millions of dollars, many hardworking Americans struggle to feed their family. 

I understand the frustration and their reason to direct at wall street but I don’t support their cause, mainly because I still don’t know what it is and frankly neither do they.  Do they want income redistribution, higher taxes on the rich, to let banks fail, lower CEO salaries, a job, higher wages, lower student debt, a gov’t check, and etc?  They probably want all of it.  I think though they want to have a purpose and right now their purpose is fighting what they see as inequality and injustice. 

Yes, CEO’s get paid a lot of money but don’t they deserve that after going through many years of school at top programs and paying their dues in order to get to that level?  I am currently surrounded by people who strive to work for wall street and do investment banking, knowing all the hoops they have to jump through to get there and all the long hours they will have to put in to do it.  I know people who fly out to NY and SF just to get to know the people at the banks so they have a better chance of landing an internship.  They meticulously edit their resume and cover letters and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars just to network so they can get on wall street.  Once they get to wall street, they average 90+ hours a week, which is more than two normal full time jobs, doing technical and stressful work.  Do they deserve to get paid so much money?  Well considering the fact they essentially work twice as much as anyone else, they should get paid at the very least twice as much.

The other day I saw another movement pop up in opposition to the occupy wall street protest, which also go by the 99%.  This movement is called, “we are the 53%”  based off records that show only 53% of Americans actually pay taxes.  They view the 99% group as lazy people who just want a free ride.  The 53% express the hard work, long hours, early mornings, budget cuts, and many personal sacrifices they have to make in order to make ends meet and provide for themselves and their families.  The 99% respond saying that is no life to essentially enslave yourself to a paycheck. 

I support the 53% and their hard work ethic but I sympathize with the 99% who think that life shouldn’t be that way.  Are we really slaves to these big corporations.  We spend the majority of our life working for them.  Is this really the American dream where the husband and wife work full time and part time jobs to send their kids to day care, pay off the mortgage for an expensive home, pay insurance, pay phone bills, and etc.?  Is it really the American dream to work so much and slave away that we don’t have time to spend with our families?  Yes hard work is a valued quality but has it gone too extreme with some of these 53%ers?  Is it really a society worth living in where we spend the majority of our lives doing something we hate just for the sake of getting by?  Is this really the American dream?  Also has it become for some people that the American dream is where we have our food, housing, jobs, and decisions given to us by the government?  Has money become too much of a driver in our decisions in life?