Life is pretty complicated and it doesn’t show any signs of simplification. The ironic part about it is that in our efforts to simplify, I wonder if we have really ended up doing more harm than good. By that I mean that our efforts to simplify may have actually complicated things more, but maybe not in the way that you would think.
I was walking around in my yard the other day and wondering how people lived hundreds of years ago. I couldn’t imagine that some of the things that seemed so complicated to me could have even been on the radar screen of people hundreds of years ago. Retirement. Health insurance. Mortgage. College payments. Our lives have become increasingly more complicated.
I’m not saying that these things are the problem or that they have been the things to complicate our potentially simple lives. I think that most of these things are good. What would happen to us once we are not fit for a job or once we’re ready to relax a little bit more if we did not have retirement. Could we afford all of the latest advances in medical technology if it weren’t for medical insurance. How long would it take us to save enough to buy a house outright if we aren’t working the Fortune 500 world? In the 20 years since I was in college, tuition has near doubled. How does one afford that?
But, like I said, there is an irony in the complications of life. Technology is generally seen as a positive thing. Now, we can make phone calls from wherever we are and even check in on our homes from the same place. We can have up to date information and speedy communication. News travels fast and the lines of communication have allowed for our world to grow increasingly smaller….at least on the screen.
Technology is supposed to simplify the process, make things happen faster, but for what purpose? What happens when we simplify a process? What do we do with the time that we gain from the process that has been magically sped up?
I fear that what we have done is not spend more time with our family or solving the more important issues in the world. I fear that we have just found other things to fill that newly acquired time with, things that are not quite as consequential as world peace and world hunger. I fear that we have simply seen it as an opportunity to get more done.
Don’t get me wrong, efficiency is a good thing, but I think there is such thing as over-efficiency. I think that it is possible that we become so efficient that we start moving backwards (so to speak). What have we done with what we’ve gotten back?
I am reminded of Paul’s word in Ephesians 5, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” At the end of our days, I’m not sure if we’re going to wish we were more efficient in our work lives. I think we will be asking ourselves how well we loved and cared for others and that will easily be measured by how others love and care for us. I think what seemed wise once upon a time may look very different when we’re looking at it from a different perspective.
Technology is a great thing, but like most things in life, it has a shadow side, a side of it that can be dark regardless of how we intended it to work. We need to be aware of it and then ask ourselves what we’re doing with the time we gain back from the simplification of our processes in life. If we are simplifying things in order to complicate them again, I kind of think we might be missing the point.