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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Are You Here?

What is it with our constant need to be connected? I've noticed some things happening around me lately. I have a track kid that actually texts the whole time she's running. (Not at meets, although if they'd let her, I think she would...) I run meetings now and regularly see people looking down and typing into their phone. People at restaurants will leave one perfectly good conversation to go outside and pick up another one. I will be with my family, but then feel the need to check an up-to-the-minute baseball score on my phone. I hear that Ashton Kutcher has over a million people follow him on his Twitter feed. He just barely beat out Oprah and CNN for this honor as the first one. (For those readers who are unfamiliar with Twitter, just smile and nod. It's coming. You'll know all about soon!)

As someone who sits on the borderline age-wise between the internet age and the stone age (I mean, the paper age- is that better?), I am not speaking out against any of these things. I get involved in cell phones, Facebook, and texting quite a bit myself. But I want to pause and make an observation today. Are we developing an inability to be fully present? In every conversation, we silently think of others we could have through our phone. In every moment, we wonder what's going on in the world around us. As we live a real, right-now life, we wonder about the status of others. Tweets. Feeds. Status updates. You have a text. Which life are you living?

I am writing this, not as a polemic against others, but as a reminder to myself. The people right in front of me in this moment are the most important. Do I take away from them because my mind is somewhere else? I want a life where I know how to slow down, think deeply, and appreciate the simple things in life. Does my connection to the world actually hinder this? I also want a life where I am free to consider God and look at what He's doing in my life. Can this happen if I am not fully present with Him? Through-out history, God has chosen to "break through" people's layers of activity to get their attention, but it seems to me like He's more likely to speak to those who are listening. In listening to so many around me, am I losing the ability to listen to the One who is with me?

Thoughts to ponder. I do not reject or embrace any technology outright, but I want to be willing to ask, "What kind of a person is this creating me to be?" I hope you might do the same...

Journey on, friend,


Britt said...

Maybe it's rude, but I often don't answer my cell phone or click over on my home phone (call waiting) if I'm engaged in a conversation. If I'm at work or at lunch or just chatting it up somewhere with friends or family I let the voice mail get it. The only exception is when I'm expecting an important call.

I have a friend (or two or three) who texts other people while you are trying to talk to her. I know she only hears about half of what I say. I guess I don't want to be that kind of friend -- I want them to know that at this moment, they are what is important to me, and not some random text message from my hubby telling me to get a gallon of milk. The text (or voice mail, if it's really THAT important) will still be there when my conversation is over.

Pastor Nick said...

These are good thoughts. I think somewhere our culture decided that a ringing phone is a mandatory phone is ringing, therefore I must answer it. Isn't that the whole point of an answering machine? It seems to me that what is "mandatory" is that we be fully-present to our current conversation/relationship/etc.