Many of you only know Auto-Tune as a sweet app on your phone that makes you sound like T-Pain. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is auto-tuning. Auto-Tune is a digital recording tool that automatically adjusts the pitch of a singer to the correct note when they miss it. It was originally just a recording technique but can actually be, and often is, used in live performances as well. Now, I’m not going to bash auto-tune. It is an amazing tool makes music better and easier. When I record a practice track or something for our band I auto-tune the junk out of it! There are two main reasons why; 1) it’s a lot quicker than re-recording tracks or parts of tracks just to fix the missed pitches, and 2) because I’m not very good at singing and I miss pitches like crazy! So, it is a huge blessing to the songwriter, the recording engineer and the singer, who is a little less talented than they would like to sound.
But, like most everything we create to make life easier and better, auto-tune had a cost. That cost has had many names; Brittany Spears, Jessica Simpson, Boy bands, etc…. With the invention of auto-tune the doors were flung wide open and the criteria for becoming a pop star took a nose dive. All of a sudden musical talent moved to the bottom of the list of prereqs and willingness to wear your 3 year-old sister’s dress out on stage moved to the top. The more scandalous a person was willing to be, the more popular that person became in the pop world. Talent became an afterthought. After all, you can just auto-tune garbage into gold whenever you want. The recording industry was no longer driven by talented artists but by talented recording engineers and producers that could make anyone into a talented artist. And now we live with the consequences every time we have to hear them struggle through the National Anthem at the World Series. “Oh, they probably couldn’t hear very well in that stadium…” They can hear fine, they just can’t sing very well!
I apologize to those of you who didn’t know about auto-tune and are just finding out that your favorite singers were about as legit as a rolex in china town. But, sometimes the truth hurts. And, by the way, pro wrestling is fake, St. Nick died a long time ago and never owned any flying wildlife, and bunnies don’t manufacture or deliver candy on Easter (especially chocolate versions of themselves… what kind of sick cannibalistic bunny would do that).
It seems that we have a tendency to create something to solve a problem and then, a few years later, discover that the things we created actually produced a hundred new problems that are worse than the original one we wanted to solve in the first place. Like cell phones and email, that were supposed to make us all more efficient and able to get our work done faster, leaving more time for the things like family and recreation. That dream lasted for about two months and then everybody had them and the expectation level on our productivity rose up so high that more people now live as depressed workaholics, chained to their jobs 24/7. I love having an iPhone, it has made so many things available to me in an instant. And I’m not talking about Angry birds and Words With Friends, I’m talking about really good things; great books, articles, videos, etc…. But sometimes I find myself sitting near my kids but being completely unavailable to them because I’m engrossed in some distraction on my phone. Is it possible that smartphones will contribute to a whole generation of children with abandonment issues, whose parents, not only still lived in the same house with them, but, were actually sitting five feet away from them most of their lives, yet still uninvolved and distant.
Not to mention the effect that these distractions can have on spiritual disciplines, that often require focus and solitude. I’ve got several Bible apps on my phone that are amazing helps to me. However, I find it remarkably easy to loose focus on reading the scriptures when three facebook notifications, a text message and an app update flash onto the screen.
I’m not saying that any of these things are bad, in and of themselves. They are all amoral, meaning that they have no moral value whatsoever. It’s not the use, but the abuse of these things that creates the problems.
What are some other short-term conveniences that have produced unfortunate long-term consequences?