“Post, a man of his times, tapped into a fin-de-siecle American fear. The pace of change – with telegraphs, electricity, railroads, ticker tapes, and economic booms and busts – seemed overwhelming.”

Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast

This was the turn of the last century, 1897. Can you imagine someone being transported from then to now? I believe it would hit him like a ton of bricks. Our pace of change – with the internet, smart phones, social media, 24-hour news, and economic booms and busts – is overwhelming to most of us and we aren’t even aware that we’re feeling it.

Can you feel it creeping up on you, that sense of overwhelm?

We are told, by our social media friends and advertising, that we should be doing more to stay on top of things, follow this, vote for that, boycott these companies, and rage against these kinds of people. We should be raising our children, maintaining a career, and building our bodies and minds at the same time. And don’t forget all the other atrocities that are happening all over the world so that you can have your $3 drive-thru coffee on the way to whatever it is you are going to do!

We feel bad when we slow down and unplug. As if the world’s activities are somehow our responsibility and we’re slacking big time.

In response to this silent and sneaking sense of overwhelm, we lash out at each other in anger and frustration every chance we get.

And thanks to our instant electronic connection with the entire population of the world, we get that chance very often. We send ripples of intensity, fear, sadness, electronic screams out into the world with every keystroke or thumb click…and then wonder why there is so much ugliness out there.

The internet is evil! Smash your smart phone! Delete your social media accounts!

Nah…don’t fall for the hype!

These tools are capable of doing so much for us in so many good ways. We just need to learn how to use them. Fire was once only an unruly part of nature, destroying everything in its path, until we learned how to use it more wisely. The same goes for every force and every invention. There is a learning curve and there is pain to any learning experience.

Until then, don’t fall for the hype and fear mongering. You don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Take breaks, regroup, breathe, and remember those are people out there just like you…maybe not as smart but they’re working on it. Give each other some space to learn and grow.