Digital world consumes real life experiences

Chadwick Harrell

How many followers do you have?

Can you get 50 likes within five minutes? Are you willing to compromise your morals for 15 minutes of fame?

There is a dream. Everyone secretly wants to be the most popular. The prettiest. The most liked. That is where our problems begin.

Being the most liked.

Our world is fully integrated in the digital age. Most people spend more time with their eyes glued to a smartphone than they do talking to the person sitting right next to them.

Living a good life online has become the new American dream.

Having a million likes on a selfie is more important than landing a dream job. What we work for is not to have a comfortable life. We work to post it and inspire jealousy in a million of our closest friends.

If it’s not online, it doesn’t matter. We are a digital society who can only communicate with 140 characters.

Human ingenuity is a beautiful thing. Modern medicine, the Internet and the college discount anywhere are all glorious results of it. Living in the 21st century is truly an exciting thing and I wouldn’t want to live any other time.

The only thing about living now that I can complain about is our society’s lack of attention to the real world. We live our lives on the information highway. We are missing out on the beauty of our world.

A few months ago I went on a trip to Maryland. I visited a small town settled in the valley of two mountains. One day, my family and I decide it would be cool to hike up the mountains.

We are a southern family. We have been living in the deep south since my great grandparents immigrated from Syria. So it’s safe to say we don’t get to hike up into the mountains often.

When we made our way to the top of the mountain, the view was amazing. I couldn’t believe I was standing on an actual mountain top.

Naturally, we began taking pictures.

My cousin decided that a picture of herself standing dangerously close to the edge would be the perfect profile picture for her Instagram account.

As she climbed onto the shakiest rock I’d ever seen, several of us voiced concern about her safety.

She replied that if she didn’t get the perfect picture then the entire hike would have been a complete waste of time.

Her brother was so busy in his phone checking his social media that he completely missed out on the most beautiful view of the town we’d been visiting.

Later that night he asked to see pictures of it to confirm that we weren’t all exaggerating.

He had missed the most beautiful view any of us had ever seen because he couldn’t be bothered to be offline for an hour.

When did getting the perfect snapshot of a picturesque, natural scene become more important than enjoying actually being in it?

People, we are in need of a change.

If a view from the top of a mountain isn’t good enough to pull our faces from our phones then what will be?

We have been blessed with a world of unimaginable wonder and ignoring this could, in my eyes, be seen as a sin.

I’m not asking that we completely do away with our technology and move back into the Stone Age.

I simply suggest we spend an hour or two a day with our phones, tablets and computers off or completely out of sight and enjoy a simpler life without them.

Religion can be spoken about freely, yet we tread softly when publically mentioning it.

But, the hardest idea to grasp is that having the right to spread religious awareness is certainly not the same as pushing beliefs on others.

While people reserve the right to practice religious freedom and to speak without restraint about any faith they choose, forcing others to listen isn’t freedom of speech; it’s harassment.

There are over 127 major religions and seven billion people on earth with seven billion different views of God. Some love Him, some fear Him, some question His existence and some are still searching for Him.

Some will decide that God plays no role in the trials and tribulations of life, while others will find faith the moment they see their newborn child take the first breath of being.

Whether we discover where we spiritually belong in a pew on Sunday morning or on a lonely drive with no destination, the journey to finding or forgetting God is what determines our views. We can’t be told what and who to believe in, or to even believe in anything at all.

What we learn, who we meet and the challenges we face are what we remember when we stand before Him, not the church members that knock on our front doors, or the people that stand in the quad condemning us all to hell.

And if the church goer at your front door changes your perspective, let them. Be baptized in one church, change your mind, and be baptized in another. Let what you learned in biology class make you question evolution and the powers above.

Learning from life experiences and questioning God’s ways isn’t sin; it’s human. It’s human to change emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when physical surroundings change. It’s human to simply be curious and indecisive.

Faith only exists because there are people that believe strongly enough in it to make it a reality and a way of life. Without doubters and differences, the strength of religion would never have anything to be measured against.

Because of that, religion without true belief is weak.

Never practice out of habit, don’t follow just because your parents or friends do, and don’t ever think one religion is superior to another. In a time that seems to have the explanation for everything in a test tube or on a database, people believing in any God at all is a miracle in itself.