choices in the digital age

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stepping into a new age

Even before the digital age, in the age of modernity, a lot of attention was given to the problem of alienation. City life seemed more alienated than country life. There were people who felt they were little cogs in a big machine. They resented the work they did. As Chaplin described it so well, man was made to feel like a robot… an accessory to the machines that were supposed to save time and enable us to reach still greater accomplishments. Many of those early complaints have since been solved. Our lives have been getting easier for some time now. And those of us who want it, have more leisure time than ever before.

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But the problem of alienation has continued to threaten us. It seems worse now than ever before. Not only are we alienated from our fellow man, but we find ourselves disconnected from our own roots, tastes, and personal space. Some sixty years ago, we discovered the advantages of shopping in the supermarket. It was fun for a while; easier and less time consuming than making our purchases in a number of little ‘mom & pop’ stores. It seemed cleaner to buy a steak wrapped up in nylon, divorced from the sight and sound of the cows who were slaughtered to make that steak. And easy too, to buy a Mac burger from a ‘drive through’ window, and get inexpensive food immediately. It was around that time, that we found shirts that didn’t need to be ironed, and could see far away places and enjoy live entertainment on TV.

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We had hardly gotten used to the idea that we could keep milk and cheeses, meat, and cooked meals in the refrigerator… and then there were refrigerators that didn’t need to be defrosted. In every area of our life, there were vast improvements. But the changes never stopped. They kept on going, and always faster.

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Nowadays, when I go into a supermarket, I feel coerced to buy more than I want. What’s this business of ‘two for the price of one’? I don’t want anonymous presents. I want to buy goods at a fair price, and to decided myself, whether I’ll buy one or two. And food… Do I really want to buy meat that was made from animals who never walked around… who were imprisoned in tiny cubicles, and fed an unnatural diet including antibiotics so they’d grow faster? Do I want to eat vegetables and fruit that have been created by an alteration of their genetics, or an implantation of foreign DNA?

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an old fashioned alarm clock

Do I want my relations with my fellow man to be of the facebook variety… with little tweets from my friends by way of Twtter? A few weeks back, I was searching for recent literature that was inspiring and had a positive view of life. I got a lot of recommendations, and I have begun reading those books that were mentioned. But there were also people who wrote to me, asking, with all the wealth of literature that has been produced in the last two thousand years, why would I concentrate on that which has been published in the last twenty? The answer, of course, is that I felt out of date… and wanted to know if I’d missed something important. But we can ask ourselves the same question when it comes to life style. Do we really want to limit ourselves to the latest inventions and applications or would we prefer to have the choices provided by the many stages of history.

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the café at the horse ranch

At the beginning of the digital age, we learned that we could do many things easier and faster with the help of the computer. We could alter and improve our photography with the press of a button. We could revise a document without having to copy all of the text in order to incorporate a few changes. We could design a home or an airplane a lot better and easier with computer tools. But now, with the advent of the ‘cloud’ we discover that we are no longer in possession of our own documents. They’re always available, but no longer in our hands. We can’t help but wonder if they still belong to us, or are they just ours on loan? The computer, that valuable tool has become indispensable. But we are more or less forced to update it every day.

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way out back, it’s easy

Our telephone has become our musical library as well as a camera and a computer, with ready access to the internet, our social networking, and answers to all our questions… It’s not just a means of communication, but an indispensable learning tool. However, in order to keep up with the progress made in that technology, we have to buy a newer model every so often… sometimes before we’ve even learned all the tricks available in the previous model. And despite all the ‘time saving’ gadgets, there’re a lot of people complaining that they don’t have time for anything. They might have more ‘virtual’ friends than ever before. But lately, they don’t even have the time to send ‘likes’ to all those virtual friends. And they certainly don’t want to offend anyone. Because if all this ‘liking’ stopped… why, we’d feel so very much alone.

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The illustrations on this post are from the horse ranch in Tzur Hadassah, where I am presently residing, as a temporary resident. If the dog is man’s best friend, the horse used to be his most trusted servant. The horse wasn’t an app. He had a mind of his own. He enjoyed creature comforts… and in his own way, he could talk to the man he worked with.

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He had his reservations and his criticisms. But he also had loyalty. And often, affection for his master. On occasion, he could find his way home better than the man, woman, or child who was driving. He or she could offer comfort at times of sorrow, and never went so fast that one lost complete control. Of course, there’s no room for horses in our city lifestyle anymore. Once an integral part of our day to day life, he is now relegated to the role of a hobby. But there are a few of us still left in this world, who aren’t willing to limit our life experiences to what’s available on the latest iphone or other fantastic gadget. It’s our choice, after all. We can choose between spending an afternoon sending likes to 365 of our closest virtual friends, or sitting down for a cup of tea and biscuit with the old lady at the end of the road… or ride ‘Old Paint’ past the city limits, down the canyon… don’t even have to wear a safety belt.

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91 responses to “choices in the digital age

  1. Good morning Shimon….

    How wonderful that you are currently residing on a horse ranch. I would love that.

    One of the things that I have been pondering over a great deal of late is that people of our generation grew up at a time when we were used to amusing ourselves….and socialising with those around us. It was part and parcel of who we were.

    Come the digital age, we are able to tap into both elements of our lives….the earlier element and enjoy the newer, digital element. We can choose….

    My fear is that young people who were born into the digital age, never lived the way we did before it. Therefore, this is the world they know, and when one of the many gadgets they use are removed….they are bereft….what to do? How to behave? etc. etc. More and more is being written about this.

    Also it’s the rushing of our world that is so difficult especially for those of us who have known something different. Taking time to savour a good conversation and meal, seems to have been lost in all the ‘progress’

    Anyway, I am actually answering an on line interview from someone at the University of Arizona on this very subject, and so you have given me more food for thought.

    Enjoy being with beautiful animals….Janet:)

    • Actually, I’m just staying in this very pleasant village here, not too far from Jerusalem, and the horse ranch is one of the highlights of the village. But as you say, it’s a great pleasure, and even a bit of inspiration, to be in the company of such beautiful animals. When it comes to the new technology, I just hope I haven’t given the wrong impression, Janet. I love it. I use my computer every day, and it has taken the place of numerous tools I used to use. And when it comes to the disadvantages… they’re not too different from the disadvantages we used to see in the old days. There were always people who got locked in to the superficial, and denied themselves the pleasure of leading wide open lives filled with many stimuli, thinking and culture. I just wanted to discuss the fact that today’s technology has become something of a totalitarian influence on our lives today. And that we still have choices… we don’t have to allow ourselves to be swept away by the tsunami of toys and devices. But when it’s good, it’s wonderful. I still remember changing needles, the better to hear good music on 78 rpm records… and having an MP3 player has added great pleasure to my life. Thanks for your comment.

  2. So eloquently put Shimon; I feel sorry for those whom all this has/is passing them by. Old people (older than us 🙂 ) who have no access or even understanding of computers, not to mention the internet. They are being ignored with the ever increasing pressure society/governments make with statements like “can be ordered/filled out on the internet” exclusion from the basics of life. Penalised is probably a better word… in UK basic utilities can cost more if not administered through the internet, bank accounts offer more interest by using on-line banking, but there is a subtle cost to it all. Especially when I hear statements like ” but they should learn, its easy” I wonder how those making statements like that will feel, when they reach 70 or 80 years old.
    The human race is rapidly losing control of its own existence !

    Loved the first image – reminds me in some ways of the Ape raising the bone in the film 2001 A Space odyssey.

    David.

    • I have to admit, David, that I myself am one of those older folk. I’ve just had the advantage of being prepared by professional interests, and a great curiosity, to take advantage of the new technology. But I do agree with you, that many have been left behind by the massive changes in our society. And it does seem that in the last generation, though there’s been a little more tolerance for cultural and religious diversity, there has been an almost fanatic devotion to technological shortcuts. It’s to our advantage to remember that sometimes taking a long walk in nature is as much fun or more that getting in the car and zipping over to McDaniel’s. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Very thoughtful and provoking. Yes there were many advantages to how life was before all this technology and the personal touch does seem lost. Terrific photos– did you ride a horse?

    • Thank you Lisa. Glad you liked the post. I used to do a bit of horseback riding, many years ago, in the mountains. Nowadays, I’m pretty conservative about my physical activities. But I’ve always loved the company of animals.

  4. You have seen many changes in your lifetime, thus naturally wonder where its going. I see this post as a reflection about the impact of those changes on people, especially when it comes to interacting with others. After all, we may be more selfish than ever.

    My dad would have been 88 several days ago, and this post reminds me of an incident over 20 years. He was visiting and looking around as I was driving …. then he said “This is going to be some world in another 50 years.”

    • Yes, you’re right, Frank. The world I was born into just doesn’t exist anymore. I remember hearing my own father tell of the wonder he felt when they introduced the electrical grid in his youth. I found it really hard to imagine a world without electricity. And today, I think my grandchildren feel the same way about a world without all the advantages of digital tools. In fact, I am very grateful that I’ve had the luck to live long enough to appreciate the many innovations of this new age. But at times, I also feel a certain relief that I don’t have to deal with some of the challenges facing my grandchildren.

  5. You make a number of very important points, and pose questions which our more affluent societies should ask too. I love the photo of the horse which you have captured with his tail in mid-swish!

    • I believe, and I’m sure you do too, Gill, that the ability to choose, and making choices, is the most elegant and wonderful characteristic of a human being. Just as important as the ability to make new tools. And I suppose that the point of this post was to remind my readers that choice is still a part of our opportunities. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Some very interesting points here, I often feel that technology is developing at such speed that it’s difficult to keep up with it, never mind control it, and the thing is as the internet has never happened before noone has a clue where it’s going or the possible impact on humanity.I have no doubt that people will soon have technology implanted on their bodies, charged by their own heartbeat or body heat or something….just imagine phones and computers on our arms or eyes, which respond to our voices…..and instant information that appears before our eyes…maybe people will end up half machine in the brave new world.

    In many ways I pity young people today, what a strange world to be born into, they go out with friends and are so busy taking pics and getting them up on facebook they don’t enjoy each others company, and they all have to prove what interesting lives they have…..and how popular they are, what pressure.

    Yes, we do have choice and have to try and remember we don’t need two for the price of one, unless we have a large freezer where the food can be stored so we do actually save money. So much food is thrown out because of these types of offers.

    Lovely pics,I do love horses, especially their enormous eyes. Do you know why the horse’s in the first pic has it’s head tied down?xxxx

    • I think you’re right, Dina, about an eventual integration of tools within our own body. It seems a logical development of the function of tools. Even at the most primitive level… say the use of spoons, knives and forks, the tools became an extension of our bodies. But as you say, it’s very hard to predict the reality of as yet unknown innovations. What we have to remember, though, is that the very things that make our lives easier, usually make us weaker and more dependent on gadgets and contraptions. In the not too distant past, people would walk from one city to the next. Today, we think it only natural to use the elevator or the escalator to go from one floor to the next in a department store. I don’t think we need pity the younger generation, because in every age, there were people who made poor choices, and often missed out on the very best their world had to offer. But we should remind the young, that there are still a lot of alternatives to choose from, including some activities that are no longer popular.

      Some horses have a tendency to raise their heads all the time, or to throw their heads back when they’re running. This can eventually cause pain or a stiff neck. Forcing the head down for a while, now and then, serves to strengthen their neck muscles if they have that tendency. All the best. xxx

      • Oh, I didn’t know horses suffered from such a complaint….you live and learn eh?
        I do agree about things that make our lives easier make us weaker, I love modern machines, but I also like to keep my hand in re growing my own food and staying close to nature. Again, as you say, we all have choice in everything we do. I think people forget this sometimes.

        Hubs and I are talking of visiting Jerusalem next year, so hey….hopefully we might get to meet you, if you were willing.xxx

        • If you do get to Jerusalem, and I’m still alive, I certainly want to celebrate with you, and to share with you a few things I love about the city… and who knows… by then I might be in my new home and we’ll be able to celebrate that together.xxx

  7. this reminds me of something i have said more than a few times about “social media.” all this talk about social media bringing people closer together, but i see it as driving people further apart.

    true, if not for “social media,” you and i would not have any idea of the other and would never have shared some very meaningful thoughts. for you and i – yes – bringing people closer together. but for those i have known for years, and those only a short drive away, social media is driving us further apart.

    i have some great friends who i have only seen maybe twice in the past year because facebook and twitter allow us to “chat” at any given moment. when she recently learned that she was pregnant with her second child, she typed that on her phone and sent it out immediately. and over the past year or so, we’ve all sent out random sentences here and there. but years ago, maybe we would have planned a nice dinner, and maybe six or seven others would be there, everyone sharing their lives and bottles of wine, sharing laughs and hugs, watching kids play while the grown ups yapped about what’s been happening here and there.

    this digital age makes things faster, more accurate, and more immediate. but that doesn’t always mean “better.”

    • Many of the things we enjoy most in life, Rich, can be a curse when consumed in excess. And sometimes these excesses lead to a prohibition of certain pleasures. But I believe that we should put the emphasis on moderation and making our own choices. And that way we can continue to have a wide range of choices, and avoid being subjugated by our desires. I do agree with what you said about a certain loss of intimacy with some old friends. And this is offset somewhat, by our ability to get to know one another, and enjoy an exchange of thoughts from opposite sides of the planet. It seems to me that what we have to keep in mind that it’s not in our best interest to get over enthusiastic about some new device, and forget all that enriched our lives previously. Always good to hear from you, my friend.

  8. I was going to write a longer comment here, but didn’t have time 😉

  9. Thank you for taking us on your visit to the horse ranch, Shimon. Your photos capture a lovely day with beautiful, peaceful creatures. And you’re right, this is what we’re missing as our lives speed up and we become more and more dependent on our “gadgets.” I strive to make time to spend in nature and with my fellow beings on this earth and I’m grateful for both the digital age and the living beings with whom in interact in “real time.” Thank you for this beautiful post.
    Cathy

    • Like yourself, Cathy, I don’t discount the many advantages of this new age, and am grateful to be part of the changes we are experiencing, and learning from the many new tools within our reach. I have written this post, more as a reminder that we still have a wide array of choices. And that just as we’ve been plagued by automatic behavior and an infatuation for something new in the past, we might not recognize the superficial for what it is, when it comes packaged so nicely as part of a new life style. And just as the American Indians sold Manhattan for a bag of baubles, so we might sell our chance of a truly meaningful life for the glitter of a passing fashion. But that doesn’t mean I lack respect for the many fine inventions of the day. And I believe, that when used judiciously, they could certainly provide a better life. Thanks for your comment.

  10. This is a very beautiful and thought-provoking post…as always :] You always make me think very hard about things, Shimon :]

  11. Last night my husband and I watched a tv show that requested feedback from viewers by using Twitter to vote in real time. He looked at me and said ” we’re so yesterday…”, as we don’t have a Twitter account. I definitely feel the push and pull between being up on all the new technology, and craving simplicity. And I confess to looking at my iphone more than I should. I also confess longing to take more walks in nature, looking at horses which were presented so beautifully in this post.
    The story of the Tower of BAbel comes to mind, wondering when are we going to stop, and just be, just relax, just observe and breath. And… are we trying to reacha place of pseudo control, which brings on alienation?

    • I suspect that the alienation is not the product of all the innovations we are witnessing in this generation, but rather because commercialism has been part and parcel of the new fashions that are sweeping the planet. Of course, we have to recognize that commercial motivations also stimulate the accessibility of these new inventions for the use of all. I think it’s a mistake to try and be up to date in all areas, or to take advantage of all possibilities. Much better to pick and choose those things that can really better our lives. Your mention of the tower of babel is highly relevant. It brings to mind the difficulty of an integrated effort when people bring with them very different values. It could be that our constant battle with viruses and malware are a part of that syndrome in our own days. Thanks very much for your comment, Rachel.

  12. Captivity can be something that changes our perspective, whether in the virtual sense, or in a real-world sense. The restraints of all these new inventions may be intended to expand our horizons, but, as you have so eloquently illustrated with your photos and words, are they truly giving us room to breathe and grow, or are they insuring that we remain bound?

    I enjoyed this thought-provoking post very much. The photos, as always, lend so much more to the telling of the tale, and take the reader in a new direction. You are very studious and clever with your choice of photos. I love the opportunity to explore the subject through your lens, even if only catching a glimpse of what you might be seeing. Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s always been especially interesting to me, that when the bible discussed slavery, part of the attention was given to the slave who wants to remain a slave. I think that for some of us, a situation in which everything is dictated to us, and we are ‘taken care of’ is seductive. And when it comes to fashion, it’s quite obvious that a lot of people are satisfied to seem just like everyone else. I think that what we have to watch out for, is being swept away by mass hysteria or the herd instinct, which is also part of the human experience. We have to be careful to think for ourselves, and to choose what is really meaningful for our own welfare. Thank you so much for your comment, N, and I wish you success with your daily posting.

      • “the slave who wants to remain a slave”

        It has taken me a very long time to recognize that sometimes, being bound and hampered by a difficult past is one way I might be allowing the captivity to continue, in some sense. It takes work, and careful choices, to recover from the restraints of captivity, or to reclaim any sense of freedom. Of course, that begs a bigger question: If I am not a survivor, then who am I? I think I’m truly just beginning to answer that question.

        • Forgive me for taking so long to answer… what you say here is very important, and I agree with you. We have to learn when to cut the ties… from the bad, and sometimes from the good as well. Hanging on to something that has passed is kissing death on the mouth. To keep fighting for freedom when there is a nation to build, is to enslave that newborn nation. These are issues that we see in others, and often hard to realize in ourselves. But you are a brave woman, and I have great faith in you.

  13. Sadly to say, I don’t remember when was the last time we went to a ranch. Digital technology has changed our lives forever and will continue to change… So much I enjoy the convenience of the digital age, I so miss the time when we were running around in the field or bike on streets all day long. My two year old grandson ask iPad as soon as he is up in the morning. Last time when I visited them, he was running around in the kitchen looking for iPad and I couldn’t understand what he was asking, his dad translated for me 🙂

    • Yes. Amy. I know what you’re saying. I don’t think I would have gone to a horse ranch of my own initiative ever again. But this was one of the advantages of having my life get shaken up a bit by the move… And all of a sudden I found myself in a community, where that was part of the scene. Looking at the horses, and talking to them, I was reminded of my youth, and how different life was now. One thought led to another… glad you enjoyed the post.

  14. Wonderful post as usual Shimon and very thought provoking. Wonderful images!

  15. That’s a great sentence: “The horse wasn’t an app.” I did a Google search for those exact words and got only two hits, both of them being your post.

    Your use of alienation reminds me that English used to use the word alienist (from French aliéniste) to mean ‘a person who treats diseases of the mind,’ i.e. ‘a psychiatrist.’ The alienist’s patient was someone who was ‘alienated’ from his right mind. Your post makes the case that many people today are ‘alienated’ from nature and that modern lifestyles are often at least a little crazy.

    • Thank you very much for your addition to the discussion; both the word alienist and the concept behind it. I enjoy your love of languages very much, Steve. And yes, it seems to me that the state of alienation is very unhealthy… and is part of the price we pay for the changes we make in our environment and life styles. Still, looking back through history, it seems that there has been constant improvement.

  16. true…every word…but without this medium…never would have read your words…most likely.
    however…sitting and having tea and biscuit…well…what can one say…

    • Yes, we agree Knowles. There are advantages both to the new, and the tried and proven. I do appreciate our ability to travel great distances and meet people in other lands by way of the internet. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Dear Shimmon .. we still can choose…
    we buy from the cooperative that once a week provides organic food… we are vegetarian (although both boys have not yet managed to break away from the habits and the dictates of society, but they will choose), and then the fruit and vegetables are grown in a radius of 100km from where we live…
    I don’t like to interact on the internet, but how otherwise? If you want to meet me in person, I bring my octogenarian mother to Berenice on the Red Sea for Christmas…
    Certainly the company of animals is by far (damn, how to say it…) better than that of insensitive bipedal
    And there I’m again with my complains!
    We have for sure a wonderful friendship with horses, since we spend at least 8 hours a week with them (me and my husband looking at the boys making progress with their own)… but in facts, into the nature the four of us feels a lot better! And all that isn’t virtual… will ever never be…
    One day I shall bring my family to Israel… or both kids will go to a kibbutz… that, indeed, is one think I never had the chance to do and I’m missing it.
    But maybe, I still think about escaping reality… have a lovely Shabbat
    Claudine

    • It makes such a difference when we do choose what works for us especially. Though sometimes we forget that that is our prerogative. How nice that you are visiting our country for Christmas. And that’s a nice place to visit. Warm in the winter. Yes, sometimes it does seem as if it’s easier to relate to animals than to human beings. Though I think that is because we have so many expectations from humans. Maybe too many expectations. Thank you very much for your good wishes, Claudine.

  18. I love to ride the train of your thoughts and drink in your beautiful photography, Shimon. A hectic week ends in peace and reflection, and I thank you for the gift and soul-food: very nutritious indeed. 🙂

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Kitty. Writing to my children earlier, I told them that it’s a mistake to expect life to get easier as we age. In every period, we encounter different challenges and new tests… that that is part of the experience of life itself. Hope the week wasn’t too hectic. Best wishes to you always.

  19. I’m happy to read that you are having the horse experience. Too many have not and have no idea what they are missing. And then to contemplate what life was before cars. I’m country enough to understand and have had wonderful experiences with them. Good looking horse flesh in your photos.

    • When I was a young man, I used to like horseback riding in the mountains, Bob. Nowadays, I seem to have little interest in climbing up. I think I could still do it, if I wanted to. But I seem to appreciate having two feet on the ground now, more than ever before. Glad you liked the horses. They seem very congenial to me.

  20. How absolutely grand that you are living on a horse ranch! I’d stay, I think. Beautiful horses. I love the photos of them. Aw, Shimon, every generation says the same thing. I believe technology will bring the natural world even closer to city folks than ever. My mother said, in her nineties, that folks who were nostalgic for the good old days could have her share of them. She preferred as many conveniences as she could get and thought technology would solve more problems than it created. (She grew up on a farm.) She wanted to return in a hundred years to see for herself!

    A wonderful post thoughtfully written. And, you’re right … as long as we have choices, life is good. 🙂

    • I’m not living on the horse ranch, George. It’s just in the neighborhood, so I enjoy visiting. I agree with your mother completely, but I think you’re very optimistic if you think the technology will bring the natural world even closer to city folks. Seems to me that we’re for ever getting more estranged from nature. Of course, we agree about the importance of choices. Thanks so much for your comment. Life truly is good.

  21. I too love that first image – I just wonder whether he is stepping ‘in’ or ‘out’. I have a word for what is happening in so many areas of life: ‘Commodification’ – meaning the turning of something into a commodity. It’s happening in so many areas of life, especially in the era of digital photography and communications in general. It’s a throw away society that we live in, nothing has permanence or substance, and increasingly we live (or rather many people live) very isolated lives. it’s all really sad.

    • Ha, your comment on which direction he is stepping reminds me of my first car. It was a Studebaker coupe, and my friends said they never knew if I was coming or going. But to get back to the serious side, I do agree with you about the ‘Commodification’. Tools have become toys. In fact, it seems as if all purchases are like that of toys. It’s strange, there’s all this talk about recycling… but you’re right. It’s a throw away society we live in. And it often seems too commercial. But on the other hand, having lived in a socialist society… I think this one is more pleasant on the whole for the citizen. Thanks, Andy, for your comment.

  22. As so often happens in your posts, Shimon, your photos brought smiles and your thoughts gave my own thoughts a nudge in slightly new directions. Thank you. Like some of your readers, I’m of an age where I straddle the worlds of the old ways and the new. Of the old, human interaction was an important one (still is, to me), along with the ability to simply sit and think or read. Of the new, I thoroughly enjoy my computer and, having RE-typed many a document on an old-fashioned typewriter, I appreciate the ease of word processing. I even teach classes in computer basics and file management. I couldn’t give a tweet about a Titter account, but do have a Facebook account (long time coming on that one). Except for keeping up with friends in general, I find FB shallow and somewhat inane. I might add I’ve made many email friends, having connected with them through other friends, and these new, unmet friends have enriched my life and knowledge base (you, my Greek friend, my Turkish friend all come to mind). I own a smart phone and enjoy some of its applications, but also keep a land line. I suppose the bottom line is this: if the power grid goes dark and the satellites fall from the sky, you and I (and others of our same general age) will survive because we know how. The majority of electronic-driven youth may not.

    • So glad to know that you enjoy my posts, Myra… and especially to hear that I’m able to bring a smile to your lips. I too remember the many pages I retyped in the past… and I have no doubt that life is easier and more comfortable today than it was fifty or seventy years ago. And I’m grateful I made it to this time. And as for the inane and shallow, I remember soap operas on the radio before there was any TV, and there were always people who chose to spend their time that way. People haven’t changed that much. It’s just that we have better tools, and more possibilities to choose from. Which is really a good thing. As for the thought of the satellites falling from the sky… I’d like to think I wouldn’t survive. I’ve seen enough chaos for a lifetime. And I would like to leave this world in a state of bliss. But let’s hope we don’t have to find out. I do enjoy your comments.

  23. An email I just received that seems to fit the theme of this post and the ensuing repleis:

    “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” : Albert Einstein – (1879-1955) Physicist and Professor, Nobel Prize 1921

    • That’s a very interesting quote, Myra, and I have to tell you, having read a bit of his writings, I have my doubts about it. There are many so called quotes running around the internet, and I always ask for book and page number, or who else was part of that conversation when I get a quote like that. And there have been a large number of things attributed to Einstein that he never said nor wrote. Sometimes, even when the quote resembles something he said, they’ve been taken out of context. As someone once wrote in connection with such a quote, ‘Some people crave the referred authority of someone like Einstein so much to back up their own views or beliefs that they will do just about anything to do it’.

  24. a primitive man who carries his own window to pass through. does he not remain barbaric on the other side?

    • As it happens, not all primitive people are barbarians. Some are peace loving people, interested in learning and appreciating the world around them… and woe be them if they run into any pioneers… But if you’re asking, Mary, whether we too remain barbarians after we’ve crossed the threshold into the new world… I think not. Having lived in at least two different ages, and maybe more… it seems to me that human beings are becoming more delicate… sometimes even too delicate for my own particular taste. Thanks for the comment.

  25. Thank you for putting into words, thoughts that every one of us has surely reflected upon at some time or the other. It is the conundrum of progress, that the more technology is created to free us from labour, the less free we really become!! The distractions are many, and it is up to us to balance what is on offer. The worry, like so many of your readers have already expressed, is that the younger generation is getting increasingly selfish and insular. A beautiful post with refreshing images Shimon.

    • As a rather selfish person myself, Madhu, I prefer not to complain about the younger generation turning in that direction. But maybe we can agree on insular and narrow minded. What really bothers me, though, is this business of saving time. Our lives are getting too intense, and I like to spend my time contemplating, and listening to good music. All these time saving devices have me running around… whether it’s to buy them, or later to use them. I find myself most attracted to simplicity. I ate a really good salad today, with two slices of bread, some white cheese, and a little humus and pepper sauce. And I regret that my computer was unwilling to prepare that for me, and I had no choice but to put it together by myself. Where is this world coming to (smile). Thanks so much for your comment.

  26. Choosing a different path means we may not have the conveniences we grown so dependent on, and it means we would have to rely on other people to meet the needs the machines meet. People are harder to control than machines – messier and much more unpredictable; yet without those messy interactions with people, face-to-face in our daily lives, how can we experience love and joy, or how can we know what it means to be human?

    • Somehow, when it comes to knowing how it feels to be human, for a number of years now, it seems to me that we only know that from books. At least for me, those day to day meetings have often been disappointing (still smiling). But as wonderful as the robots are, I don’t know if we have to take them as a package deal. Maybe we could have just one or two robots serving us, and then do a few things on our own too. Like scratch our heads, or blow our noses. Every time a robot blows my nose, I feel as if I’ve gotten out of touch with my roots. Thanks so much for your comment, yearstricken.

  27. A superbly written and thought provoking article as ever Shimon. What a wonderful place to spend some time. Horses really are such wonderful creatures. As a young boy my dad used to help the milkman who would traverse the streets of west London delivering milk. Such an indispensable service that has now been dispensed with of course. The milk was delivered at this time by horse and cart. The memory of the stories my Dad (now 80) has told was triggered by your mention of the horse knowing the way home better than his master for at Christmas time, it was tradition to give the people who delivered to your home a little tot of whisky or brandy to warm the bones at this cold time of year. As you can imagine, by the end of the round, the milkman, was quite drunk and therefore totally reliant on his horse to not only know the round well enough to finish it but get him home also which he did, unfailingly.
    In this mad dash to give us so much (and don’t get me wrong, life now is in so many ways so much better) we have lost so much.
    Thank you for this post shimon and enjoy your stay at the ranch my friend!

    • My favorite memory of horse and cart, is the iceman making his rounds. He used to ring a bell, and people would come running out of their homes to buy a block of ice for the cooler, where the milk and vegetables were kept. We didn’t have refrigerators then. It’s amazing how much has changed. But I was in fact thinking of the same thing, those shot glasses of whisky on a cold winter night… and the horse knowing exactly the right way to go… And like yourself, I see many advantages to the inventions we have seen over time. But it seems sometimes as if people accept anything that’s new, without really checking out whether they need it. Thanks so much for your comment, Chillbrook.

  28. Wonderful post, Shimon. Aside from my blog which I didn’t even create, I don’t partake in social media and that’s my choice. My adapted laptop does help me in that I can actually see to some extend on here and it has its uses (and no cloud since I can’t figure that one out, nor do I care), but I can’t see my cell phone well and don’t have a data plan, so it’s rather like an old cell you just use for making calls. I remember when I began to notice people sitting across from each other in a restaurant doing whatever they do on their phones, while I sat alone and ate, and thought that was a real shame. Why didn’t they talk to each other?

    I think I my best years were living in the developing world in the ’90s, with that rooster for an alarm clock, drinking water I had to get in huge jugs from the water trucks, dealing with the freezers that frost up, and walking a lot or taking the bus that ran every 2 minutes. I wasn’t sick then and I had my vision, but life was just better on so many levels. There was no e-mail (etc.) and no one had a cell phone and evenings were spent talking with friends and eating cheap, fresh food from a street vendor–even if I got every tropical disease there is from it! I often think I was born into the wrong generation or in the wrong country, but that’s just me.

    I thought the 2 for 1 comment was funny as that sounds like something that would bug you to no end. I hope Wal-Mart hasn’t made it to Israel or you’d really get mad. I had a similar experience (at Wal-Mart) where I only wanted one bottle of generic Tylenol, but they only had a 2 pack. Sure, it saved money, but I only wanted one! Luckily, I’ve need a lot of it lately, so it all worked out in the end. 🙂
    Leah x

    • Wal-Mart hasn’t gotten to Israel, but we have a lot of American stores here, and the American ethos is very popular among our people. Really and truly, I believe things are getting better. My problem is just that people tend to get over enthusiastic about what’s new rather than what’s good. We’ve amassed a lot of things that are good over the years… and we’re ready to throw them out in a minute, for a new bauble. It’s a shame. It’s very hard being ill, or being incapacitated… having limitations we didn’t have before. I can understand that well, because I myself am an old man, and have also suffered from heart disease in recent years. Sometimes, in those conditions, it seems as if things were better in the past. But when we truly examine and compare, we realize that there haven’t been such great changes, though they might seem to be. The human being is pretty much what he always was. The tools and the dress might change… we might be living in a slightly different style. But what we really want out of life hasn’t changed that much. Those changes are just on the surface. I send you my best wishes, and hope that today you’ll have reason to smile. xxx

  29. Yes, yes, yes, yes! I feel like you are reading my mind! The food, the computers, the phones, the push for consumption… It makes me wonder what society is doing to itself, and whether it’s seeing the consequences. I still haven’t figured my phone out entirely and I’ve owned it for 10 months. My last phone still works but I felt the pressure to upgrade. I am attached to a computer way too often. I heard a statistic recently that for every hour you spend sitting behind a screen after the age of 25, you lose 22 minutes off your life expectancy. My initial response was to joke about not being 25 yet, but really it makes me shudder.

    It’s a big problem, really. This isn’t a healthy life, and yet so much is often centered around it that it’s hard to escape. I think that there are many people whose ideal life doesn’t involve technology and enhanced food, and many people I’ve talked to have just wanted to get away from it all (well the technology at least). But I think many people are scared of missing out and being forgotten. I know I am! I feel many excuses rolling off my tongue, but in reality I think a massive perspective and priority shift is needed.

    An afterthought about food – I love (not) all this talk about “superfoods” – in reality we are that disconnected with ourselves and what it is good for us, that we rely on the industry to cycle these superfoods and their opposites to keep us eating ok. All of this seems to based on the biggest fads going around. I don’t think it’s a massive coincidence that many more gluten free foods became available at the same time gluten-free/paleo diets became popular. I really fear we are losing control over ourselves – we are becoming the robot. Disconnect and we shut down, unable to do anything.

  30. Shimon, looking at the number of replies you already have to this post, I respectfully suggest, you will never be finished with your interactions here!

    Is life catching up with us, or are we catching up with life? As we are part and parcel of life, this is likely, in essence, to be a chicken and egg question. You rightly consider some of what modern Western society has used life for, creations, inventions and all manner of production, all with controls of varying types. Some controls are looser than others.

    At points of our personal existence there can be times to “Stop [our] World’…and say… “I want To Get off…” to take stock of what we, as individuals, are doing. Is it catch up time, or is it making a reconnection, perhaps, one that is different to the connection we had before?

    Splendid pictures with much to impart.

    • You’re right, menhir… sometimes it’s a little difficult for me to keep up with the comments on the posts. But I consider it a one of the more important things that I do. It is an opportunity for me to converse with my readers, and I value the experience. I’ve written in the past, when there was very little interchange, and for me, this is a taste of the future… the comments going both ways. I’m certainly not one to say, ‘stop the world, I want to get off’. I believe that the world is much bigger than we could ever hope to see or to understand, and that we all have to pick a little piece of it for our own. In such choices, we are always missing a lot of other things. But trying to get it all might turn us blind or superficial. Thank you so much for your comment.

  31. Dear Shimon,
    This post hits the nail on the head. So well expressed, so true, and your photographs are transporting. The sculpture in the first photograph was brilliant.
    What you say is worrisome and true, but at the same time, if not for the internet and the blogosphere, I would never have made your acquaintance, or that of many other blogging friends from whom I have learned so much.
    It isn’t the same as sharing a glass of wine and conversation with a neighbor, but I think the key is to find a balance between virtual and…I wouldn’t call it ‘actual’ because I feel true friendship and have meaningful exchanges with certain people I know only through my blogging. I think I would call them my friends from afar.
    Thank you, once again, my friend, for a very thought-provoking conversation!

    • Thank you very much Naomi. I agree with you that there is much to be learned or appreciated from the internet. I was just trying to argue the importance of not throwing out all the old in favor of the new. But I couldn’t pass by the many wonderful things about these new inventions, and the new age as a whole. We have to continue to make our own choices.

  32. How nice that you get to visit with the horses, Shimon…in the middle of your modern city (or just down the road a bit) with all the conveniences of the time…and that you respect and admire the simple things like tea and crackers with the lady down the street. You have a few years on me, but I am right there with you, enjoying the advances of today, but yearning for the less-complicated of yesterday.

    I was visiting with my oldest son last month and he was sharing a favorite music station with me from his Pandora program…internet music that he had coming through his phone…and was sending wirelessly to his entertainment system and television in the living room of his house…. I doubt that it’s truly very complicated…but I didn’t even want to ask him how he did it….

    Thank you for the compelling words and photographs, Shimon.

    • I got to know that Pandora program a few years ago, and enjoyed it very much. One could choose an example of music that was appreciated, and the program would find like music. It was beautifully done. Unfortunately, they no longer serve listeners outside of your country, so I can’t enjoy it anymore. Appreciate your words, Scott. It really doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can choose the good among the new without throwing all the old out. Thanks for your comment. It’s always good talking with you.

  33. Love the post, Shimon.

    Based on all of my peers, I should be tied in 24/7, connected and reachable at all times. Apparently I must be inundated with sights and sounds, without a hint or promise of quiet time or reflection.

    I don’t understand it.

    Although I do enjoy the continued connections with friends world-wide via Facebook.

    • I haven’t gotten to facebook yet, Bill. I might never get there. But there are a lot of the new inventions I do truly appreciate. And whether young or old, we can still choose, and none of us can choose it all. We have to choose that which we most care for…

  34. Beautiful photographs, Shimon – it looks like a great place to stay. I loved your article too – alienation seems to be inbuilt in modern life.

    • Thank you very much, Richard. I was more or less forced out of my known environment, and have learned to appreciate the adventure. It was good for me in a way. Thanks for the comment.

  35. Technology is for making life easier for humans to have more time in hand for better things in life. What is better is then relative. Good post, adapting ways to progress in advancement , and a evaluation of how it effects our ties, socially.

  36. You seem very well off for friends..I suppose it’s the artist’s talent.:)

  37. Wonderful photos, Shimon. I enjoy your articles and always look forward to seeing what your part of Israel looks like. So beautiful. .
    A bunch of my friends met for lunch yesterday and we discussed the effect of today’s modern conveniences on our grandchildren and where it was heading. When I think about how fast those changes are coming I picture a train wreck at the other end. Many of the friends complained that their grandchildren weren’t reading or not as much as they themselves did at that age. I think it’s a matter of finding time to toss some old traditions into the mix.

    • You raise a very interesting point, Mary. I used to think that reading might be endangered by the radio and TV. But it seems to me that with the computer there is a much higher interest in reading. Wikipedia for instance is one of the most popular sites on the net. And people do a lot of reading in many forms. I hope it won’t be lost. But in any case, I think that thought and communication is on the rise, and I am quite optimistic about the future.

  38. Shimon,
    Your words and the photo of the statue of ,Stepping into a new age, work very well together. I firmly believe that for a good portion of our lives we are in pace with the trends surrounding us. But there is a time we reach where we desire to stay with what works and not disrupt the comfort in our lives by constant change. We haven’t had a TV in over a decade and I was in a store recently looking at what the new technology was available. I quickly realized that the simple TV set has been replaced by a confusing array of new products. I decided we didn’t need a TV just yet until I could educate myself on the new technology.

    • I am beginning to experience similar meetings with the new technology. I lost interest in TV quite some time ago, after enjoying it for many years, so I’m not aware of the changes there. But about a year ago I bought a smart phone just so that I could send text messages without having to punch the number keys over and over again to get to the letter I wanted. But having bought the phone, and realizing that it was a little computer, I had to decide whether I wanted to use it as a computer. And I didn’t. I’ve just been using it as a telephone, and ignoring all its ‘smart’ capabilities. So I know what you’re talking about. I regret that I’m no longer able to keep up, but I’m still grateful to have the advantages of so many of the new inventions. Thanks for your comment, John.

  39. Wonderful post again… I enjoyed so much and yes, I agree with you, with your thoughts… Half I am in old days, half in todays…. It should be so funny and strange to talk negative about new age now, I am here, and I met with you, with a beautiful people too because of this new age… 🙂

    Thank you dear Shimon. Have a wonderful weekend, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

    • I agree with you completely, Nia. Out of the question to talk negatively about this new age with all its wonderful possibility. It’s just that we have more opportunities than we can handle… more good things on the plate than we can eat. And because of that, we have to make choices. And I’m not willing to throw all the old away, just to make room for the new. Thank you very much for your comment. I agree with you completely.

  40. “Not only are we alienated from our fellow man, but we find ourselves disconnected from our own roots, tastes, and personal space. ” Profound indeed.

  41. I have been too long away and have missed another thoughtful discussion…the horse is not an app, and he has a mind of his own…that sums it up! For your benefit and mine, and that of many others, I trust you’ll keep managing to find time for virtual and actual friends.

    • Thank you very much for your comment, bluebrightly. In the last few weeks, I haven’t been keeping up… either with the comments, or visiting my friends’ blogs. But I have the hope that I’m beginning to put things in order. I hope I will find time for all of my friends… and for the noble experiment that we call blogging.

  42. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Shirts that don’t need to be ironed – sorry, I still love that!!

    But to this post, Shimon, it’s great. I didn’t know Charlie Chaplan felt that way, that we were like accessories to the big machine. I was interested in that bit.

    What you say re going into the supermarket 2 for the price of one – that is precisely what happened yesterday! I mean, it happens often, but it really “got to me” yesterday. I wanted some cherry tomatoes for salad. 2 pun nets for $6 was the tag. I only wanted one pun net. Then I looked at the fine print. One punnet was $3.98. Of course it made sense to get two. I actually felt like nibbling cherry tomatoes so did buy two, but the thing is I did not go into the supermarket expecting to pay $6 on cherry tomatoes. That and all the other things along the way increased my shopping bill. It’s INFURIATING. It’s just ridiculous these days.

    I really liked this post, Shimon. In truth, yours are always grounded, always pensive, and thought provoking. I really appreciate your stuff, Shimon, even if I don’t come by “daily”. (at the moment, work is fatiguing me beyond proportion. I’m just not coping this office stuff like I used to. I wish you could help me find peace with it – walk into a building 9am walk out 5pm, half hour lunch. Just is not fulfilling)

    • Yes, you’re right, Noeleen. It is infuriating to realize that you are being manipulated by some clerk in the sales office of the supermarket. We are being pushed into unhealthy and wasteful shopping habits. We are being abused by marketing. But we still do have choices, and we can choose not to shop in the big supermarkets and find those little shops that may be a little more expensive, but don’t try to pick our pockets at every turn.

      I know that blogging has become a little too intensive too, for a lot of bloggers. This feeling that we have to keep in touch, have to send likes, and so on. My attitude is that we should just read what really interests us, and not pay too much attention to good manners and etiquette. It’s not a game, but communication. And we can’t give it our all, and still maintain full and interesting lives. Thank you for coming by. I’m glad you liked the post. But please don’t feel obligated. My best wishes always.

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