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E-views: Modern Samurai or techno-chained?

March 5, 2011

It seems that as fast as I gain speed and comfort in my e-technology management, I will always trail behind (in this order) my daughters and my husband.

It's not that I am wary or reticent to participate in the wired world. Rather, it's just a fact of nature that youth and gender offer a bit of an advantage to my in-family competitors.

I'll mention, briefly and with some embarrassment, the speed and skill with which my two daughters can text, Facebook message and tweet, sometimes simultaneously. They are like secular whirling dervishes when it comes to abbreviations and YouTube links.

However worried I am by this questionable prowess, I am most profoundly challenged to see the way in which my (similarly aged) husband has embraced all aspects of technology tool utilization.

It came home to me acutely as we recently passed through the security line at Portland International Airport.

My husband, looking much like a modern-day Samurai, began removing his electronic warrior's armor piece by piece, placing each item - laptop, cell phone, iPod, digital camera, chargers, ear buds and pager - ceremoniously into the scanning tubs.

Following his successful pass through the latest security scanners (with explicit body imaging!) it took him a full 5 minutes to reposition his gear, aligning each piece for optimal speed of handling.

Here, I noted to myself, is where the years spent pretending to be a wild-west gun-fighter or Star Wars light-saber-wielding rebel have paid off.

Sitting there, waiting for him to reconstruct his world-proofing techno-belt, I was struck, somewhat profoundly, by a memory from our shared marital past. The contrasting images hit me like a cold splash of water.

My husband and I were six months into our marriage. We were traveling to Mexico to serve in a medical mission for a few weeks. We carried with us on our trip, nothing more than our two half-empty backpacks.

We began our travels by walking from a parking lot directly onto a tarmac, with only our travel agent issued tickets in hand for proof of legitimacy to board.

We had no phones, no laptops, no portable music and no idea of the up-to-the minute political or economic realities of the place we were heading to.

Shockingly, we didn't even think we needed any of those things.

We were headed out to experience the larger world, and to serve. We brought with us only our hearts, hands, minds and spirits.

Perhaps, untroubled by bombarding electronic inputs and free to rely strictly on ourselves, we were a simpler kind of warrior.

No, that's not quite correct. We were in fact, not warriors at all - just average young people with the desire to make the world a little kinder, the innocence to believe it possible and the unfettered freedom to pursue that dream.

I wonder if my children, and theirs, will ever feel that blissful, empowering kind of naïve self-reliance I once did, not so long ago.

Or will they, with hypnotic, lightening speed connections surrounding every waking moment, end up strapped down in their sleep like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians?

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