The ‘Black Death’ or bubonic plague, as it was known – based on the boils or ‘buboes’ that formed and spread in the lymph nodes of its victims – devastated the continent of Europe and the Middle East from 1347 to around 1353, after it equally terrorised China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt earlier in the 1340’s (1).
It was notorious for its rapid spread and vile characteristics that ranged from blood and pus-filled boils that seeped and covered the body, to fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhoea, terrible aches and pains – usually followed in short order by death, sometimes even overnight after the victim went to bed feeling fine. The Black Death was caused by a bacillus (bacteria) called Yersina pestis that was spread through the air and via the bite of a flea or rats that harboured the disease, wiping out about 60% of the European population (over 50 million deaths) and over 100 million world-wide (1).
Now, after reading the above description, you may be thinking “Phew, what a relief, thank God we don’t have to deal with anything like the Black Death anymore,” or, “Glad THAT’S over with!!!” But herein lies the point of this piece, and that is that even though it may appear that through modern medical and health practices we don’t have anything that compares to the ferocity of the Black Death (even the Ebola virus doesn’t even come close at 11,310 total deaths globally attributed to this disease (2)), there is a modern plague that has spread around the globe with equal tenacity and fervour. We could refer to this disease as ‘Smart’ Phone Zombie Syndrome and perhaps the energy that seeds the idea to create a video game called ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ is the one and the same energy that is turning us into so-called zombies walking the streets running into telephone poles while on our cell phones!
Yes, it’s true folks; this contagious ‘disease’ now has the ability to affect over 3.3 billion people globally that have ‘smart’ phones (that’s over 42.5% of the current world population of approximately 7.74 billion people (at the time of writing, and likely increasing daily)) (3).
So, if 42.5% of the current world’s population have cellular connection via a smart phone (remembering the figure for connection via mobile devices is even higher at over 5 billion people and representing over 65% of the world’s population (3)!) and can talk to a friend on the other side of the planet with the push of a button, wouldn’t you think that we as a humanity would feel, you know… more connected?
But from my observations, and I’m sure the majority of the readers here would agree, this has indeed not been the case since the inception of the smart phone and other digital devices. Instead, I have noticed a rampant increase in people walking around as if their ‘smart’ phones were super-glued to their hands and with their heads and upper body hunched over staring at the screens as if in a trance-like state. Go to any employer’s lunch room and you will be hard-pressed to see an individual eating without watching or being consumed by some random internet entertainment like the latest funny animal videos or some random insane stunt that someone pulled off, which only seem to get more and more radical every day. Is it not crazy enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane wearing a ‘wingsuit’ and glide precariously close to trees and rock-strewn mountainsides before opening your parachute at the very last second? Apparently not, as one can always find something more extreme with their ‘zombie-inducing device’ (aka cell phone).
I feel that to continue down this path of illusionary ‘connection’ will result in an even greater amount of mental disorders such as dementia than we currently have due to the compounding effects from the disconnection to one’s body, escapism and insatiable desire for greater forms of stimulation to counteract the initial unsettlement one has felt.
It’s as if we are all looking for something – connection – but have gone astray in the attempt to find it and instead have inserted cell phones as the surrogate substitute. But when two people who are on a first date at a restaurant barely say two words to each other during their meal and instead have their noses in their phones or are not even really listening to each other when their date is speaking because they are busy texting some other person, we need to get honest about what kind of connection we are really fostering here.
Even the extreme act of the ‘wingsuit’ jumper can be interpreted as an attempt to gain connection with others via the attention and recognition that he or she may gain from performing such a dangerous stunt and pulling it off (or not, as some people are satisfied with a posthumous form of fame as well). I’ve also noticed how parents have used cell phones and iPads as ‘babysitters’ or given them to their very young children in the grocery store as a distraction when in fact I recall as a child riding in the shopping cart and looking all around in the store to be quite stimulating. Of course, one could also extrapolate this phenomenon to the ever-increasing video game addictions that are now at a global epidemic level as well.
What force is driving us to behave in these ways when we know deep down that it is not our true way? No one in their heart can say that it is normal or healthy to play an online video game all night on their phone that involves trying to brutally shoot and kill another person who is actually their friend living in another country playing on their own phone. Yet it is as if we are using these methods of ‘entertainment’ to distract ourselves from some form of inner unsettlement because we have bought into a system of living that is based on individualism, standing out, beating another, competition, gaining recognition or acceptance from an external source. And the pain that we feel inside, knowing deep down that this goes against our truly divine, interconnected nature that holds all in its universal love is too much to bear, hence the need for outer forms of entertainment and mental distraction to keep us, if but for only a moment, from feeling how we have deviated from a form of connection to our inner hearts, and thus, to God.
Now, to be clear, I have no intention here of vilifying all electronic devices in any way, for they all can be used in a way to keep us connected globally and for great service. In addition and with full disclosure, I have certainly fallen for the lure of the infinite amount of entertainment and thus distraction that cell phones and computers provide, and at times find myself way down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos that I may have justified as being work related but in truth were being used to check out from feeling something else that was going on in my life, as in after a difficult situation with a family member or co-worker, or feeling guilty about indulging in something I knew was not supportive of me. However, when I have used my phone in this manner, it has always left me feeling exhausted and icky inside, and definitely not ‘connected’. It’s almost like we use our cell phones as our ‘security blankets’ wherever we go, and they ironically become our ‘go-to’ method of avoiding the very connection that we so deeply crave.
With the aforementioned in mind, we can all take a step backwards and begin to observe what may have been the underlying emotional reason for our choice to use these electronic devices… to avoid the form of connection with each other that we know has been inside and in front of us all along. Imagine that same date night described above, but this time each person is actually looking deeply into the other’s eyes, feeling their Soul and all that it shines forth, and appreciating how much we are all equally amazing beings with so much to offer the world. How could any text or YouTube video compare to this level of divine connection, if one so chooses it?
This blog was inspired by a wise observation made by my daughter comparing the Plague of the Middle Ages and modern illness and disease.
- (2019). Black Death. [online] Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/black-death [Accessed 7 Nov. 2019].
- (2019). ISGlobal – Ebola: Two Years and 11,300 Deaths Later. [online] Available at: https://www.isglobal.org/en/ebola [Accessed 7 Nov. 2019].
- (2019). 1 Billion More Phones Than People In The World! BankMyCell. [online] Available at: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/how-many-phones-are-in-the-world [Accessed 7 Nov. 2019].
By Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, Lover of people, Nature and the philosophy of Universal Life, North Carolina, USA
Feeling our Way Through the Static Fog of Life
What is success?
Crying out for connection: technology and us
When I was growing up it was touted that cigarettes’ were a man’s best friend, the advert of the Marlborough man (Rugged Cowboy) sitting astride his horse looking out onto majestic untamed wilderness while smoking his best friend the cigarette. Is it possible the cigarette was a substitute for the loneliness we feel inside? Is it possible that we have replaced the cigarette with mobile phones that we again take everywhere with us because we are all still just as lonely, the phone has replaced the cigarette to become our ‘new’ best friend? We can check out of life for hours, without having to address why we want to check out in the first place. If everyone is checking out on their phone, there’s no stop moment because everyone is doing it, so it becomes ‘normalized’ behaviour.
The power of having facts is that there is no where to hide, the numbers are so exposing.
I’m appreciating the potential in relationships when we are open to truly connect with one another. Thanks you were open to receive this wise observation from your daughter and you got inspired to write such a brilliant reflection about this modern day plague of constant escaping. There is so much to share and bring together that a minute wasted in the cell phone doing nothing makes no sense. However it’s time to be honest and wonder why do we need so much distractions, what is it exactly we don’t want to feel and how our choices leave our body feeling…a lot to consider and ponder on. Thank you Michael
What a brilliant if slightly uncomfortable invitation to stop, just for a moment, and consider why it is we knee-jerk default to our electronic devices so much. And then to ask ourselves quietly and gently what is it I am attempting to avoid?
I have also felt the effects of being drawn into my phone and the apps it holds for the false purpose of avoidance of matters in life whether it’s something I’m feeling or resisting. If many people are doing the same then this creates a demand for more entertainment, distraction and opportunities to check out and hence the boom in you tube, social media and other such apps on smart phones which exploit such a demand for commercial gain and go further to stimulate the demand further. Time to ask what are we avoiding and why?
Michael, I have loved the detail of your article, coming from the inspiration of your daughter.
How apt that the whole of society is so bored with their lives, that the alternative is dis-connection from self and all outside of ourselves. It has been a real awaking for me to look deeper at my many addictions – I have to not feel the inner feelings, that are within my whole being, so much easier to get distracted with whatever is around to provide this opportunity. A gentle walk in nature would immediately bring me back to the beauty that is ever present within.
If an illness is a clearing of something that is energetically unbalanced within us, a reflection of the patterns we are continuously living and investing in, a stop moment like the one that the disease offers is something very much needed, for us to address, correct and definitely learn about the deceitful energy that has driven us until that point.
We would have to assume that there is something about the model of life we live in that leads a human being to want to escape, even as they are walking in nature or with their baby, or with others. As you have expressed Michael, that something is within ourselves, and to me it’s contributed to by the way we live life. Even in a so called wonderful city and financially abundant situation (ie it ticks all the boxes) a person may still want to escape and live glued to their mobile phone, or be addicted to other distractions. We need to question why that is, and consider what our internal environments are and what the quality we live with inside ourselves offers us, including a quality of energy within we so obviously would like to get away from.
It is interesting how we overlook the plague that is seemingly invisible in regard to its manifestation, choosing not to acknowledge the impact on us. We are saying ‘yes’ to something all of the time – what are we saying yes to when we allow ourselves to be absorbed by this unseen force?
Great point – we choose to remain in the illusion that these technological advances are a good thing and represent progress when in fact we do not want to look at the true state of affairs we find ourselves in.
That is the trick Michael all these technological advances are a way to keep our attention focused out side of ourselves, in the perpetual distraction which has to get more and more bizarre we do not resource our inner most, if we were to turn around and look inwards we would find naturally the answers to our constant distractions.
The range of choices that are provided to us come from one of two energetic sources that we are aligned to and it’s our choices, in turn that then align us back to one of the two sources of energy. So is someone who’s movements include excessive gaming and phone use able to easily wake up to the fact that it’s a form of numbing and distraction? No I don’t think it is because the realisation isn’t part of the choices that are offered. From my own experience I would say that changing the energetic source that we’re aligned to is a gradual process and one that involves fundamentally changing the way that we move.
Alexis I would agree
‘I would say that changing the energetic source that we’re aligned to is a gradual process and one that involves fundamentally changing the way that we move.’
I am just beginning to understand that our movements are controlled by the energy that we are aligned to and that we are not conscious of this because of the movements we make hold us fast with that consciousness.
Thanks for an interesting and surprising article. I was expecting the Plague to be compared to the current pandemic – not mobile phones! But I totally appreciate the unexpected nature of that. However, I’m most appreciative of the postscript sharing that your inspiration came from your daughter. Now that is beautiful.
The over-consumption of video games is, like the over-consumption of junk food, an increasing problem as the ingredients are designed to be addictive. Addictions prevent people from feeling the truth of who they are and drain the joy out of re-connecting to to the magnificence of the Universe.
You paint a very crass and convincing picture of the extent of this modern day plague, being conjoined with a cell or mobile phone – and all to escape our self-created and, oh so mundane and humdrum reality.
The thing is life is far from ‘mundane and humdrum’ but we’ve made it appear that way and so of course we’re constantly looking for ways to pep it up, to excite ourselves, to stimulate ourselves, to distract ourselves, to anaesthetise ourselves. What we’ve created is painful for most of us, it goes against the natural grain of being loving and joyful. Ask most people how they feel about life and they’re gonna tell you that there are ‘good bits and bad bits’ but that’s not true, life is about constant enrichment, it’s about constantly going deeper and about constant expansion. Truly most of us have no conscious awareness about what life is really about.
You make it beautifully clear Michael that life is never about the object, thing or technology but always about the intention/energy that it is used in. If we look at that part we will see a plague of separatism and withdrawal that has ravaged us for aeons long – and now we have the choice, do we wish to carry it on?
Wouldn’t it be fascinating and so incredibly revealing if everything was stripped back to the energy that has impulsed it. We would all be shocked and sickened to see that very little of what exists in the world comes from an energy that’s true.
But then again the thin slivers here and there of truth would shine so brilliantly that we would be drawn to them like moths to a flame and once we had experienced the power and the beauty of truth then it would be so much harder to turn our backs on it again.