I am astounded by the irony of technology; the advantages are usually proportionate to the harm done to the people for which they were made.
Improving at break-neck speed, technology has enriched our lives in so many ways. We could start with electricity or the washing machine, but recent advancements like instant, fingertip-access to the globe has brought convenience and possibilities never imagined before.
On a personal level, internet access is highly beneficial to our family. It has brought new dimensions and possibilities to homeschooling where the pioneers had little more than paper and pencil with which to work. It is entirely possible to access a rich education for free, if one so desires.
It also allows us home-business opportunities, given the world-wide market now at our fingertips, where once a business was limited to the short arm of its local community.
Recipes, medical advice, help diagnosing ailments, “how-to” anything, sharing our lives with friends and relatives across the world…all in seconds. “Google it” is a household term. Our lives have been revolutionized by the Internet.
But the technology brings a host of trouble with it.
I remember reading a story to my children about the debut of the telephone in homes. The father in the story was livid at the idea that he was expected to have a device through which people could intrude on his personal, family time at any hour of the day. How far we’ve come.
For most, there is no place, no time that affords privacy, free from at least the possibility of interruption, the pressure of answering or texting. If a person CAN be reached, we expect them to answer us–without waiting.
And it’s not just our time that is bombarded. Facebook–ah, where do we begin? It’s addictive because we are all voyeurs at heart . Peering into the lives of other people without being seen–doesn’t that draw us?
And we’re narcissists too. Why else would we “exhale” in public and then check every few minutes to see how many people “like” it?
We build fake farms, plants fake gardens and maintain fake relationships until we have little time for anything “real”.
What about information overload? And what does it do to us, emotionally, now that we inadvertently share the grief and strains of our “friends of friends of friends” in addition to our own real life?
Blogging, tweeting, sharing, surfing…
Then there’s texting, perhaps the most intrusive of all technology. It physically endangers drivers, pedestrians, and in general, leaves masses of people only barely tuned in to the world around them. In a culture where strained relationships are already a monumental problem, texting might be the nail in the coffin.
It is common for every member of the house to own a phone with texting capabilities. It is common to see a family sharing dinner, oblivious to each other, oblivious, even to the food they are supposed to be savoring, having lost all concept of the relaxing, connecting potential of a shared meal.
There are so many levels of harm it would take a book to develop the issues. No time for thinking, creating, imagining, dreaming, problem-solving–the constant connection to some device robs us of fundamental living!
There is advantage in moderation, in carefulness, in deliberate use and in a whopping measure of self-control.
But it’s time to recognize the danger, the subtlety, and refuse to allow ruin to come to our families just because it has become “normal”. It’s time to create protective boundaries around our relationships and fight with vengeance, anything that threatens to harm them. It’s time to look up, into the faces of those we love and remember that our lives will be more enriched by that than by the latest Facebook status.
I’m speaking to me, to you, to all of us.
A family in tact, building healthy bonds, spending time sharing their lives through conversation and focused attention is now in the minority.
Will you be one?