I think this question is a simple yes. Yet, the debate still rages as some are trying to use the impatience associated with technology as a means of building towards being a more patient individual. The question is can one have a spiritual practice related to computers and technology? This is unlike saying technology is evil and hence should only be used reluctantly. Rather, this is trying to find the positive in a superficially challenging aspect of life.
In a world where a new laptop already seems slow, one wonders whether our ever-faster technology is creating a pervasive culture of impatience.
Allan Lokos, who teaches patience as founder of The Community Meditation Center in New York and author of “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living” (Tarcher), thinks that’s not the case. Rather, technology offers more opportunities to be impatient — but those are also opportunities to build patience.
Technology is external, Lokos says, while the feeling of impatience is internal, he says: “The person who experiences impatience easily is going to experience it in every traffic jam, in every slowing of their computer, in every dropped cellphone call. But it’s still an internal, human experience. People who lived 2,500 or 4,000 years ago experienced the same feelings: love, anger, disappointment, impatience. … Let technology work at its pace. We need to work at our pace, as human beings.”
Q: Do today’s young people, growing up with lightning-fast technology, seem less patient than previous generations?
A: We have no way of measuring that. Because everything around us can move faster, will impatience arise faster? I just don’t think that’s the case. Impatience can only be experienced within us. That’s significant because we think, “If only this traffic would move along, or if only my computer would speed up, then I wouldn’t be impatient.” But when the computer slows down again, you’ll experience impatience again.
We can’t say technology makes us less patient. We can say that because of all we can do with technology, there’s more potential to be impatient.
Q: How do we seize technology’s benefits while not letting it consume our lives?
A: Use these miraculous devices, but realize they’re just tools. They’re not your life. For young people in school, technology is incredibly valuable. Use your computer to get the information you need, then turn it off. Don’t spend the next three hours browsing from site to site.
Q: Children use technology from birth. What are the gains? Losses?
A: The benefits are unimaginable. That brings a responsibility to parents to spend time with a young person at the computer. Play a word game. Look at a polar bear; they’re bigger than you imagine. Explore what you might do with your life.
Through technology, we can access parts of the world we otherwise couldn’t. I doubt young people know how fortunate one is to grow up here. Through technology, we can communicate with people in other parts of the world, and there’s the opportunity to become compassionate.
The losses stem from not limiting the time young people spend on computers, cellphones and tablets. Parents can encourage youngsters to spend more time with real-life relationships. … Great advances bring responsibility.