“We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men.” T.S. Eliot used this line in his poem, “The Hollow Men”, to illustrate the emptiness that pervaded society after World War I. I couldn’t help but think of this prolific piece of literature when I read Christine Rosen’s article, “In the Beginning Was the World”. Although the words “hollow” and “stuffed” contradict one another, they hold an underlying meaning that can relate to the technological era we live in today.
We are constantly bombarded with myriads of information – emails, texts, articles, social media posts, etc. Instead of enhancing our intellectual abilities, these often seem to distract us. It is overwhelming to be presented with so many options. And yet, with the free will choose, many often prefer the effortless and mind-numbing ones. Society reflects this mentality by constantly developing new ways to make our lives easier, faster, and more entertaining. We have smart phones capable of almost every task imaginable; we have articles that take complex ideas and dumb them down so people don’t lose interest. As Rosen states, “Our willingness to follow a writer on a sustained journey that may at times be challenging and frustrating is less compelling than our expectation of being conveniently entertained.” McDonalds capitalized on this agenda, and although we love the food, we can’t ignore the detrimental effects that come with that drive-through double cheeseburger.
Much like Eliot’s poem, we are “stuffed” with so much meaningless information, all in which we obtain on our quest for instant gratification. Many of us choose to live in a world of illusion, a world where we live vicariously through the internet. I often find myself surrounded by people who constantly check the innumerable forms of social media on their phone rather than absorbing the reality. We are all guilty of it from time to time, but so many people obsess over their phones to the point where it is blatantly rude. It all seems so superficial. Thus, to be “stuffed” is to be “hollow”. Technology is definitely beneficial, but it comes with a cost.