From Mindless to MindfulPosted on: 2009-12-23 16:06:24
Looking at the internet though the eyes of a web designer while browsing the web is a lot sitting at a high school lunch table with a bunch of the "preppy girls":http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=preppy%20girls. You judge everything. It's instinctual. You know all the latest tools, lingo, and trends. Everything gets evaluated by how it appears. Sure, finding that a site runs on a certain language/platform/cms/framework or uses a certain library/flash component/technology can be interesting when it doesn't meet your expectations, but let's face it: Everything gets judged by how it looks and performs to our standards.
And those are pretty high.
Every time I visit any website, whether it's big or small, low- or big-budget, corporate or homegrown, it goes through a rigorous set of evaluations that happen in the background while I'm purchasing, researching, or just plain looking around. I do this because as a web guy myself, I tend to be "mindful":http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Mindful or "aware" of all of these things going on behind the scenes.
Awareness of what is going on around you is always a good thing. It's required by people on a daily basis. We are all called to be mindful on a daily basis. We get paid to be mindful when we notice a mistake that needs to be corrected before getting published online or in print. We get rewarded for being mindful when we send our wives flowers on anniversaries (or for no occasion at all!). We feel a little bit safer when we see a police officer walking around being mindful of the environment and looking out for danger.
With all of this reward and need for being so mindful all of the time, why is it that we have become such a mindless society?
It seems like hardly a few hours go by where someone, somewhere has to make reference some sort of "jingle":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingle, "slogan":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_slogans or some other such bite-sized talking point used to sell or influence someone or something into changing their behavior. Sure, the change might be to get someone to go to Jack in the Box instead of Wendy's. It still achieves it's purpose. We mindlessly receive, consume, and slowly change our behavior.
This isn't a bad thing, though, right? I mean, chances are you were going to go out to eat somewhere why not make one place instead of the other. Chances are unless you've built up some unnatural amount of distrust or distaste for someone or something, you'll probably be swayed to try it at some point.
Take me and McDonalds for instance. I despise McDonalds. I dislike them so much I won't even take my wife or step-daughter there. The closest I get to one is the Red box outside when the one down the street doesn't work. Their advertising is horrible and cheesy. I'm "not the only one that feels this way":http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=lovin_it, either. Their "McLatte" radio ads turned the fire against them so bad, I smell ashes every time I drive by.
But I've been down this road before and I'll be down it again. Probably within the next year or so, I'll have one of those days where I suddenly become stupid and say to myself, "Maybe I'm wrong about McDonalds. Maybe their 'McLattes' are actually worth checking out and perhaps having a McRib and fries wouldn't cause me to get sick." And so I'll go to McDonalds, have my 10 minutes of omnomnomnom and then i'll take another 3 to 5 year trip to regretsville via the experience express. All because of those stupid, incessant, carefully placed, disturbingly bad yet catchy jingles that bombard me whenever I happen to leave the radio, TV, or stray browser window on.
Why can't I be mindful about those things as I am with other websites? Why can't I approach conversations with the same well-thought out and emotionally balanced arguments I generally have with people I trust? Why can't I filter out crappy advertisements for food I know I'll regret eating later on? Why is it that I find myself singing songs in my head that are inappropriate/stupid/or otherwise meaningless? Why do I see others doing the same thing? Why does it feel like I don't have any control over this?
Why am I not mindful on a weekly/daily/hourly basis of the fact that Christ died for my sins, the sins of my brothers/sisters, and for all humanity? Why can't I see that everyone is just like me: lost without Him? Why can't I look at problems and ask the right questions? Why do I look to myself for answers instead of to the Truth? Why do I not always seek Light when I see darkness approaching? Why do I not yearn for the Word as if it were my only sustaining source?
Why do I always seem to treat Jesus like the friend I call when I've tried everyone else and nobody has answered?
These questions keep me up at night. I take some comfort in that seeking him is better than not seeking him at all. I know that Prayer should be my first line of defense, not my last bastion of hope.
So here it is: I want to be a mindful person. Not just when I'm browsing websites. Mindful all the time. Mindful of my thoughts, words, actions, emotions, and what is going on around me. Mindful of what the God who saved me might have me do for Him or on His behalf while I'm here to put Him first and myself second that He might be glorified.
I want my mindless life to be transformed into a mindful life. Aware. Awake. Not asleep.
What do you want your life to be?