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.