Soul Trap: Device Addiction Among the Young in the 21st Century

Addiction. Among our nation’s younger generations, device addiction serves as a trap for Soul. In this twenty-first century, we face more addictive temptations than ever before. Drugs, alcohol, and smoking have always been around, as has sex addiction, addiction to power, even the adrenaline addiction rushes known to participants in extreme sports and a whole lot more.

Device addiction as it is known today, however, is a zebra of another stripe altogether.

Decades ago, while reading various books in pursuit of my spiritual studies, I came across a fascinating statement. The author stated in no uncertain terms that while Soul is indeed imperishable and eternal, impossible to destroy, It can be trapped, and rather easily at that. All the “Soul trapper” has to do is present Soul with an unending flow of pictures. Soul gets fixated on these images…and forgets all about everything else.

Whoa, I thought. Sound familiar? There was no doubt in my mind that the writer of that particular passage had nailed it rather neatly. What are movies or television shows but, literally, a series of moving pictures, the original “moving picture show”? What does a great orator do but use words to paint pictures in the heads of his (or her) audience?

This was long before the Internet. We had yet to enter the era of communications satellites encircling the earth, cell phones of either the smart or dumb kind, or Texting While Stupid. I was one of those who often had his face in a book, but there was of course no Facebook. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both still in high school.

Fast forward to March of 2016. I suspect that same author who wrote about the simplicity of trapping Soul with pictures (the late Paul Twitchell) would not be surprised to see the number of young people zombie-ing through life with their noses glued to the screens of portable electronic devices. After all, he saw it coming. But he’s not incarnated at the moment, so here are a few of my observations:

1. A family of four, having finished their meal at a fast food restaurant, prepares to depart the premises. Mom goes first, presumably to unlock the car doors. Dad, a tall man in his mid-thirties, shepherds his two dark haired sons–estimated at ages eight and nine, respectively–out through the restaurant door. Each youngster holds a sizeable device in one small hand, head leaning forward and down to focus on a computer game. Dad captures the free hand of one boy on his right, the other on his left. The male threesome exits the restaurant, the boys automatically clinging to Daddy’s hands…but their eyes never lift from the screens that hold their attention. Not once. Not when Dad makes contact for the hand linkup. Not when they go through the doorway, though Dad has to angle his body a bit to keep his sons from smashing into the walls to either side. And certainly not as they cross the parking lot.

2. Crossing a sizeable strip mall parking lot, where pigeons poop and vehicles run at odd angles, a lean young man–at least eighteen, but no more than twenty-five years of age–ambles in the general direction of the northwest street intersection. Huge earphones cover his ears, a black cord running from there to the device over which he is hunched. The screen is within inches of his face. It remains impossible to tell whether he is listening to music while watching a rock concert on the rap screen, Skyping with a wannabe girlfriend, or–heck, who knows? Still, it is clear that he is utterly oblivious to the world around him. He could step in pigeon poop or get hit by a car without noticing a thing until after the fact.

3. In my chiropractor’s office, a new poster hangs on the wall. The illustration shows a man hunched over his electronic device–Earphone Guy could have been the model for the poster–and describes a newly rampant spinal irritation syndrome among those who keep looking down like that. Do it enough and your body starts having problems; we weren’t designed to operate with our heads constantly thrust forward and down. Who knew?

There are plenty of folks out there who will ask, “So what?” After all, progress marches on and all that. For that matter, not everyone on the planet believes that Soul even exists, let alone that It could be trapped like a fly in a spider’s web by simply flashing an endless stream of pictures to get Its attention.

On the other hand, there are also those of us who are aware Soul is destined to endlessly learn, grow, become spiritually “something more”–and for me at least, it’s very, very hard to see how any individual can gain in compassion, love, empathy, and service (either to God or to mankind) with device addiction blanking out all awareness of one’s environment.

Except, of course, the digital environment. Shades of Tron. Cyber Zombie Apocalypse, here we come.

8 thoughts on “Soul Trap: Device Addiction Among the Young in the 21st Century

  1. Ghost, whether we are trapped by power, by images, by sex, vanity, anger, money, pride… they are all passions of the mind and we are subject to them. The device addiction is one more variant. I, too, used to walk while reading a paperback, and when I was corporate a coworkers criticized my reading at lunchtime instead of participating in ther inane conversations. During the Nintendo craze, my daughters were caught up with Pokemons, so when they finished one of the games I asked to try it. They saw me become addicted and not stop until I won the game. I told them that it was a good game but that they saw what happened to me while I played. It seemed to work, since they budgeted playing time with reading, etc. Oh, and we also read A LOT, but understood the addiction element of this, too. It was funny how we would read each new Harry Potter novel within 24 hours, usually overnight, so the next family member could read it.
    Why do I share this story? Because addictions and passions must be faced and dealt with. Forbidding them only makes them more attractive to the person doing it.
    Paul Twitchell is/was very wise and pointed out the dangers we must address when growing spiritually, and invited us to take up the contemplation of spiritual works to promote upliftment and free us from the traps you mentioned.
    As a teenager on a farm, I would daydream and lose myself picking and eating fruit, hiding from my chores. I wasn’t allowed out of the house with a book in my hand… everyone knew that I would be gone until the next meal if I had a book with me, LOL! Nowadays, I carry a library in my smartphone, and found that if I am reading on that device, people don’t bother me as much as when I’m reading a real book! LOL
    Conclusion? None, really. Device addiction is real, and it is something we need to learn to deal with. 🙂
    Manny

  2. Nice comment, Manny; thanks. I, too, was a lost cause if I could disappear with a book. When I was young enough to avoid the usual dawn to dusk ranch work, I still faced the “rules”: No reading after lights out, no reading in the bathroom, no reading when down with measles or any other childhood disease that “weakened the eyes”. And of course I broke those rules every chance I got: Reading under the covers by flashlight (if I could find batteries), Three Musketeers in the apple tree (that one during the measles experience), etc. I do know what you mean about people seeming to allow others more “privacy” with a device (in my case a Kindle) than with printed books.

    Perhaps the device addiction in our population strikes me so strongly because it is so visible. An individual walking down the street while addicted to almost anything else MIGHT not show the signs outwardly, or at least not enough for most people to recognize at a glance…but anybody hunched over a portable screen is obvious to one and all.

  3. What many people hate is feeling ignored, and some deal with it by purposefully ignoring the world. I suspect that part of the addiction for children and teens is that they don’t get bored waiting for the adults (story of my youth, sitting or standing waiting for “instructions” or “comments” because children are meant to be seen, not heard). But there are parents who use the devices much like the TV: to quiet their children and keep them busy. Thats why as a teacher I would see kids playing and goofing around with cell phones that I couldn’t afford, and the parents insisted that those phones were crucial for the child’s well being… and guess which way the bad politicians went… (I am proud to be a “positive and truthful” politician, which is why they don’t pay me AND I left the school system. LOL
    Take care…….. Manny

  4. You know, Manny, I never thought of that. The part about many people hating to feel ignored, that is. Which would raise a few eyebrows among those who’ve known me, no doubt, considering my occasionally “flashy” existence over the years which led some to see me as an “attention seeker extraordinaire”. On the other hand, I’m certainly aware of the “baby sitting benefits” of electronic devices.

  5. Ghost, contemplating on your post I realized that these electronic devices actually give us on hand and very quick training on the illusions, or maya, of physical existence. People get addicted to the images and sound, and know it is not real, yet they devote a whole lot of time to it. Then, reality or karma step in and they have a chance to realize that it was all an illusion… 😉
    Of course, with this thought and five bucks you can get coffee at Starbucks in 2016! LOL

  6. LOL! Love the Starbucks line!

    I see what you’re saying about the “opportunity” to recognize reality that is (or at least could be) provided by the devices. Not sure I’m as optimistic, though. We’ve personally known a few seriously device-addicted “young folks” (under 30) who faced pretty darned hardcore real world problems…and yet never once showed any signs of recognizing the device activity as being “less real” than anything else. In other words, they did NOT realize it was “all an illusion”. It was more like they saw what you and I would term the “real” world as nothing but an irritation limiting their time texting, Skyping, surfing online, or whatever. To them, Cyber World is real; groceries on the table are the illusion.

  7. I so agree with you, Ghost. While technology has become the norm in the work force and communications, it has taken the place of human interaction. I wanted to say face time, but we can do that with our computers and even phones now. Even human interaction most often depends on electronic devices – which is great if you’re not within earshot or driving distance to friends and family. But what happened to the human touch? Spirit is within us. Wouldn’t it have more freedom to grow, guide, and enjoy if its casing exercised the wonderful ability to touch people? I mean really-touchy-feely touch people. We become withdrawn when we’re denied the simple pleasures of actual human interaction. It happened to me when I sequestered myself in my home office for three years while trying to make a living at writing. My entire self suffered. My creativity, joys, hobbies, need for social interaction – all of ME fell into a deep side of me I didn’t like. Now I’m back in the world and loving it. I’m free to be me and my soul is ever grateful I saw what I was doing to us before it was too late.

  8. We’re definitely on the same page, Sha. Case in point: My youngest sister is a lifetime R.N. and rancher’s wife in Montana. Some years ago, especially during a period of time when she was administrator of a local health clinic, she did have a computer in her home–though she never used it as extensively as I use mine. The last time I was there (in 2015), I found out she no longer owns any computer at all. Cell phone, yes, but not the smart kind.

    Instead, besides her work (she hasn’t yet retired), she interacts extensively with her offspring and grandchildren, keeping track of their 4-H projects (raising goats, calves, etc.), and pretty much interacting person-to-person for the vast majority of her communications. It’s probably hard for most of our younger generations (device addicted) to even grasp the concept, but I believe my sister has far better connections to reality than most of the cyber world fanatics do.

    At the other end of the spectrum is a young man (30 or under) I noticed at the Shell station today. While I was pumping gas and squeegeeing away the splatters from the latest swarm of bees to hit my truck’s windshield, he was on the other side of the island. Presume the hose was in his vehicle’s tank and doing its job, but I mostly paid attention to him…which he definitely did not realize. His thumbs were fairly flying, texting away on his smartphone (smarter than the user, in my opinion)…with a long white Y-cord leading to earbuds, rattling music or whatever around in his brain. Had the fuel pump failed to shut off when his rig’s tank was full, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t even have noticed until there was enough of a gasoline lake to soak through his shoes.

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