I am seriously intimidated by my light switch.
Technically, I know, it’s not just a light switch. It’s a programmable light timer with an LCD display, three-way switch compatibility and synchronization to either the time of day or sunrise and sunset, depending on my whim.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, I can program up to 50 different on/off cycles during the week.
That’s seven per day, plus a bonus on/off to surprise the cat, if we ever get a cat, which we won’t.
In normal times, I’d see that the switch can handle 50 programs and I’d just think it was a really stupid idea. Nobody within a light year of sanity is going to need 50 different on/off cycles for a light. No matter, though. Some engineer decided this was a great array and the product manager signed off on it and now I’m staring at the blinking LCDs and wondering whether I shouldn’t be much more creative about this.
In the time before, I would have sneered at the idiocy of adding an impossible number of features to a light switch and I’d go about the rest of my day. Now, though, I don’t have anything to do for the rest of the day, so I keep staring at the light switch and wondering what I am missing.
I’ve been through this before; we all have. When we opened up our word processing software for the first time and discovered that it included 3,427 fonts, we were very impressed. But we had other things to do, so we’ve been using Times New Roman 100% of the time since then and we never thought twice about it.
That’s because we had lives to live in the time before. We had places to go and people to see and commuting to commute and an actual 3D world to explore. Now, though, even the most adventurous among us is living in a smaller world, more circumscribed, more limited.
Even the people who think this is a hoax, who demand their right to go anywhere and do anything with zero restrictions, are living in a smaller world. Wherever they go, the crowds are smaller, the celebration is more muted, and at least a few absent friends will never pull up a chair again.
Along the way, we’ve all gotten smaller as well. It’s an insidious process, unnoticeable day by day, but it’s immensely powerful. As we become more isolated, as we engage less with others, our thoughts increasingly turn inward. We become more self-focused, less self-aware, more sensitive to our own fears and less sensitive to others.
As our worlds shrink, we shrink as well. Like Plato’s man in the cave, we begin to believe the shadows are reality. We see the world in two dimensions, on a screen, and we are more easily manipulated than we were when our worlds, and we, were bigger.
We like to think we’re above it, that we’re smarter, harder to fool, but we’re still human. We see what we see, and when we see less, we become less.
Smaller can be cured, but it takes some effort to reverse the trend. We can check in on an old friend, find a local business to save, provide encouragement to front-line workers, fight to stay engaged in the real world of God’s children…pretty much anything to prevent ourselves from fixating on a light timer, or fonts, or some meme that cannot possibly be true.
Today is a good day to start out on the road back to full size. What’s the first step for you?
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.