News and Tribune

March 4, 2013

CUMMINS: Separate your inner life from the outer one

Local columnist

— People, some desperate, stop me on busy streets and ask, “How does one live a simple life?”  Modern life is like you’re walking in tight shoes or swimming in a whirlpool. Both your feet and head hurt. But as you search for simplicity within a tattered world, you should eliminate that which impairs peace of mind. Ignore the meteorites whizzing by you, accept the possibility that your hamburger is part horsemeat and realize your government remains perpetually sequestered in toxic waste.

Life was simple until the fertilization of the wasteland in Silicon Valley. First, it was the numbers on the little pieces of plastic. Computers made it easy to send those numbers to capitalistic institutions, which put you deeper in debt. As you dug out, Silicon came to your rescue again. They devised a system of passwords for your security, which unlocked closed doors for you. Success is memorizing numbers and passwords. Heaven is the only institution not requiring a password. Entrance there requires living a good and simple life.

Then when the magic-wand smartphone came along, it answered many other calls ringing, not at you, but for you. Despite interrupting church services and committee meetings, this ringing alerts you to possible pitfalls looming everywhere.

A recent article in the “The Wall Street Journal,” asks, “Is Smart Making Us Dumb?” It explains that the revolution in technology allows previously inanimate objects to talk back to us and even guide our behavior.  Here’s the good news: “Silicon Valley sees ‘smart’ objects not just as products, but as a way to ‘fix’ individual’s behavior in a broken world.” It makes sense. If you are broke, do you accumulate dumb objects? What was it that broke the world in the first place? We know what broke Washington — debt ceilings and inanimate sub-human objects.

 The human-element is passé. Sharp sensor devices that detect individual shortcomings may be salvation. Do not censure your life, but permit technology to sensor frustrations for you.

You don’t want all of your Facebook friends sifting through your trash do you? It’s a simple matter of hitching yourself to “smart” technology, not the dumb kind, which treats you as a mere automaton. For example, the latest technology features sensors in your car which monitor your fatigue, and when it buzzes, pull into a rest stop. A “Nest” sensor in you smart phone senses your temperature and adjusts your furnace accordingly. Then when you get cold, your furnace heats you.  

You say, “God is my sensor.” True, but does God watch over your garbage? In a way he does, but (not making this up) a BinCam in your smart phone helps regulate the garbage in your life. When you close the lid, the BinCam takes a picture of what you discarded, evaluates it and tells you how green you are. There is hope out there everywhere. Unless ye seek, thou shalt not find. The goal, intelligent devices that are smarter than you.  

 Try a healthy Hapifork, which monitors how quickly you eat and signals with indicator lights when to slow down, preventing heartburn. Heartburn won’t kill you, but mind-burn will. Inflamed minds become brush fires. Your first lesson — don’t touch the stove — was the simplest one. When the other lessons began crashing down, you couldn’t comprehend them all, only the simplest ones. 

When the going gets tough, where do you turn? Turn toward the Internet for wisdom and knowledge at Wikipedia, or go to Facebook for warmth and fuzziness. There’s all this stuff to comprehend out there in your outer life, which do dumb things to the good feelings within.  

You can prevent surrendering your life to technology by differentiating between “good smart” and “bad smart.”  Supposedly, good smart devices put you in complete control of changing situations and enhance decision making with unlimited information to digest. Eliminate all dumb information hard to digest. Are there any “good dumb” objects out there somewhere? I sure hope so. Back in the old days, we lived simpler lives without passwords, and the most important numbers weren’t digits, but the ones in the fourth chapter of the Old Testament. 

You have two lives —  the outer one burdened with devices and the inner one deep in the core of your heart.  The inner one comes first, so don’t keep hacking away at your life. If, however, an alien hacker should cyber-attack your outer self, rest assured that technology is working on it. 


— Contact Terry Cummins at