Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Choosing People Over Technology

*It's Day 15 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge, which is why I'm still talking about intentional community. (-; If you're interested in reading yesterday's post and maybe even following along for the rest of the series, check that out here: 31 Days of Intentional Community *

Back in the old days (the '80s, obviously), kids who were really into computers and video games were kind of, well, nerds. Fast forward thirty years and those kids are billionaires and the rest of us who can't read code or write html (are those the same thing?) are just as obsessed with technology as those guys were in middle school.

Up until five days ago, my husband resolutely still used his flip phone. Despite it's having suffered a near fatal experience in the pool this summer, it lived long enough for Matt to realize it was time to enter into the modern world and accept the smartphone into his heart. And, now the blue glow of it's screen lights up his face in the evening when I turn to say something witty to him as we sit on the couch. Or is that the glow of the 50-inch television we recently acquired (i.e. won in a raffle.)

We love our screens over here, and despite my constant sense of our lives being sucked into the cyber vortex of our computers, iPhones, Nooks, and television, we cannot seem to pull ourselves away. It's disconcerting.

I know you've probably seen that short video circulating online that is basically a montage of people just living their lives while also staring constantly at their phones. The video is somewhat amusing until you realize what's actually happening. People aren't looking at each other, they're looking down, completely engrossed in whatever is happening on their tiny, little screens. I do this, too. All the time. Every day. It concerns me.

When I was in my twenties, phones were just starting to evolve into the smaller versions we hold in our hands from the bag phones and the awkwardly shaped flip phones that would fit into no one's pocket ever. I remember even then, before the internet had even thought about being accessed from a phone, that we were all starting to carry them with us everywhere. Obviously, that made sense for safety reasons and convenience and all that. But, they were beginning to be a bit intrusive. A pastor I worked with for a bit in my early twenties talked about this in a staff meeting at one point. He was noting that people were beginning to stop conversations with friends in order to answer their phones. The problem with that, according to him, was that it basically communicated to that other person that you would rather be somewhere else with someone else instead of in that moment with them.

That's been approximately twelve years ago since I heard him say that. And, the reality is, the epidemic of social media and smartphone worship is off the charts.

What I'm wondering is, how is that affecting you and I in our pursuit for real community? What do we lose when we substitute significantly engaging with the actual, living and breathing human beings in front of us with a glowing screen that gives us information and show us pretty pictures?

What are really sacrificing in the way of relationships and fellowship and connection (with people, not wi-fi)?

I'm a little unnerved by how enamored my little people are with our phones and our computers and our television. I find myself wanting to be super vigilant to teach them to value people over technology. Not just in theory, but actually, practically, intentionally valuing others over the screens that in the end can never offer what the person standing in front of you can.

Perhaps, today is a good day to consider what our screen time might really be costing us in the way of community and relationship. And, in response to the answer to that question, asking what we can do to change that.

Because in the end, people are what matter.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - 
immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory 


  1. I absolutely LOTHE it when people pull out their phones when we're hanging out or having a good chat. It really does say to me, "You're not as important as this person who isn't in front of me." I honestly could do away with all of it -- internet, smart phones -- and be perfectly happy. But I'm a lil crazy like that.

  2. Lex, I totally feel the same! So, that pastor that I mentioned saying that about phones all those years ago was Craig Brown. Remember him? I think about his saying that every now and then and wonder what he would say now about the insanity that is our smartphone generation.

  3. Ugh this is such a big one for me and I hate it about myself but not enough to make the change. I need a kind code word for ppl to say to me when they see it happening! Thanks for pricking my heart about this...again.



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