Phones, Computers, Texting: When Technology is Too Intrusive

Reading a story to the children about the advent of the house phone, the father in the story snorted:

“No. We are not getting a phone in our house! Do you know how intrusive it would be for anyone at any time to be able to interrupt the privacy of our family?!”

Let that sink in for a minute.

I remember resisting call-waiting. It’s great that you don’t miss a call. But the first time a friend abruptly interrupted our conversation with, “Oh, gotta go!” I felt like something was inherently not right about what technology was doing to basic human manners.

It’s a brilliant convenience–a necessity to most of us now–and also a curse all at once.

House phones, cell phones, texting–our world of instant messaging. When we want to reach someone we want to reach them now. We know they are constantly available through one device or the other, so if they don’t answer, they’re simply ignoring us. And the same pressure causes us to be slaves to our devices.

We have allowed ourselves to be continuously “on-call”, even to the detriment of the people sitting next to us. Have you had a conversation with someone when they received a text and began to answer it while you’re talking? Have you done that to someone? Imagine if you were talking to me and I turned to someone sitting beside me and began talking to them as if you weren’t saying anything? Is there a difference?

And sometimes I think we’re even too eager to answer our house phones. Certainly we must answer often. But since we have the choice to call someone back, I am challenged to think twice before answering if I’m having a conversation with my husband or children that I feel doesn’t need to be interrupted. Sometimes we need to say to our family, “you are important and that can wait.” Just like we teach our children not to interrupt a conversation we’re having with someone, maybe we could model for them the same courtesy.

It’s impossible to turn technology back. But perhaps we need a careful scrutiny of our social behavior.

We can be grateful for the convenience of technology without letting it command our time. We could treat it more of a tool to us than a master. We could give the people in our physical presence the courtesy that was once expected. We could dine together, enjoy conversation and the flavor of our food, taking a break from our extended social contacts.

We could talk again, face to face, at length, literally leaving our devices elsewhere to allay temptation.

And there’s the lost element of reflection…

I was sitting in the doctor’s office yesterday. I have a cell phone that I use when I drive in case of an emergency. My daughter had it so I was technologically-free for about four hours. Quiet, alone with my thoughts. I glanced around the room and I don’t think a single person wasn’t connected to a device. My concern is not the device itself; it’s the world we’ve entered where our thoughts are constantly charged and stimulated and we don’t give ourselves space to think, to pray, to be quiet and still.

I think it is changing us.

Your thoughts?

The Unwired Mom

“It’s time to reclaim your life; it’s time to live free.”

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32 Responses to “Phones, Computers, Texting: When Technology is Too Intrusive”

  1. Ashley C says:

    I struggle with this a lot. I have become very aware of how distracted I can become with all the content that I am accustomed now to reading every day. I long to “unplug” and yet I have learned so much and gained so much community by discovering the blog world, etc. My mission lately has been finding a balance. As wonderful and edifying as much of my reading might be, it is still a form of passive entertainment. I know I need to prioritize that quiet space to think, pray and be still. I might feel like I’m “missing” something at first, but I need to have faith that God is going to bless my efforts at keeping right priorities.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Texts, I-Phones and such are very intrusive when allowed to take reign, and addictive to boot. This article is excellent. But this comment is very silly:

    “Do you know how intrusive it would be for anyone at any time to be able to interrupt the privacy of our family?!””

    Firstly, try remembering that when one of the kids is hurt or the house catches fire and you need immediate professional help. Secondly, people calling do not interfere with your privacy; they have no idea what your family’s doing, not even the person who answers the phone; they could be knitting a quilt or watching a video or reading emails for all the caller knows. And thirdly, a phone may interrupt someone’s peace, but did you ever hear of taking it off the hook, Pa? It doesn’t have a mind of its own; computers are smarter. People do not need to become so obsessed with their privacy that they live way off in the middle of nowhere or have no way to contact people in case of emergencies.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Jennifer,

      Did you catch that this story was about the “advent” of the phone? Never before in history had people experienced this kind of “invasion”. We can’t wrap our brains around that comment now, but I included it to demonstrate how much we get used to something.

      It’s similar to the huge opposition from the public when power lines were first introduced. People did NOT want it. They were afraid of being electrocuted.

      I always think it’s interesting to see how people once thought about something that is now a normal part of our lives. His comment was an extreme, but telling thought about how far we’ve come.

      • Jennifer says:

        Oh yeah, guess he didn’t know much about it then. Hope he realized the value of it soon; back then luckily I don’t think social calls were that common. It is amazing what we can get used to.

        “It’s similar to the huge opposition from the public when power lines were first introduced. People did NOT want it. They were afraid of being electrocuted”

        Yipes. And no wonder; I’ve always found electricity fascinating and scary. I’d like to learn more about how far a downed power line will charge the ground in fact, I’ve heard about that stuff a lot.

  3. Catie says:

    This is so good. I totally agree with you. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I feel like we have an entire generation of kids who have NO IDEA how to talk to a REAL PERSON. I’m trying to be purposeful about raising my children differently. (as I sit here on the computer.. *ahem*)

    I would say I’m pretty good at not answering my phone every time it rings. I just don’t feel the need to do that. But I could definitely use some more self-control when it comes to the computer. Thank goodness, we can rely on the Lord to help us! 🙂

  4. Charity says:

    This is excellent, Kelly. I have no cell phone and my husband only has his from his job. Rather comical really, since my husband is in low-level management for the largest telecommunication company in the world. 😉

  5. shannon says:

    It’s amazing to me how “far” we’ve come in even the last decade. 14 years ago, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) was quite the catch since he had a car phone! LOL. As a freshman in college just 14 years ago, I got email and finally a cell phone. It was to be used for only emergencies and it was limited to that- there weren’t endless hours of “free” talk time. Now, My cell phone is always with me.
    I understand your points of etiquette and try to be as polite as possible. At home, we don’t answer the home phone if it rings during a meal. I keep my phone on vibrate when I am out of the house. I don’t text people when I am with other people. I have come to love my cell phone and know I could live without it, but admittedly wouldn’t want to. But our society finds ourselves on a slippery slope. From one family phone at home, to two phones, to one in a teenagers room to allow for privacy, then cell phones, etc…
    It’s weird to me that we have more access to others than ever before but are more disconnected than ever before. Have you have tried to actually have a conversation via text? Yikes, forget it. Just some tangled thoughts at the end of a long day…

  6. Kimberly says:

    Reminds me of a little piece entitled Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude in the book Of God and Men by A.W. Tozer – something I come back to now & again 🙂

  7. I have a simple cell phone that I charge with a pre-paid card. Every time it’s fixing to expire, my DH asks me if I don’t want to upgrade my phone to a texting internet browsing one and I always answer “no!” Everywhere I go I see women attached to their devices finger moving non-stop over them. Eyes glued to the screen like their lives depended on it. “no, thanks!” I got a computer at home. For now, that’s all I need. There is more to life than texting all the time, every where I am at.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Tereza,

      I’m with you. I see and know how convenient it would be to carry a smart phone. But I also know the temptation for me and I am avoiding it at all costs. But I’m a little old fashion too. I resisted getting a DVD player until you could no longer buy VHS 😉 BTW, I still prefer VHS.

      • Charity says:

        Oh my gosh! We still don’t have a DVD player! So we aren’t totally crazy?

      • Jennifer says:

        I hear you! I resisted getting a DVD player, but must admit I love them; the special features and things like games and touring the lands of the story are too good. BUT, I’ve kept all our old video tapes, still love them, and sometimes buy them instead of DVDs online. I do NOT understand the desire of some to rampantly replace all their videos with discs; hmph.

  8. KTHunter says:

    I agree with you. I had a smartphone for a while. I gave it up when I discovered I wasn’t looking up much anymore. I was missing what was going on around me (though admittedly a lot of that was just other people looking at screens too). Now I just have a basic phone that texts and calls. Once upon a time people thought it was cool that I had a smart phone. Now they think I’m weird because I don’t have one. How times change!

  9. Word Warrior says:

    KT,

    LOL! I know. I barely have a working phone and I never even know where it is. On my way home from the dr. I was thinking, “if I break down, no one will believe that I don’t actually have a phone with me. Is there anyone else on this interstate without one?”

  10. Kristin says:

    Technology is constantly changing us. I mean, we are communicating through the internet!! And yes, technology can rule our lives unless we are intentional, unless we actually consider our actions and their consequences. Just like anything in life, we must keep our priorities in the forefront of our minds and act intentionally. While I am thankful for my smartphone (golly, these things are pretty cool), I try to never let it come between me and another relationship. And sometimes, it is important to just unplug for while.

  11. Natalie says:

    Our family went to a buffet restaurant last year and sat by another very large family. Every single member of that family had their own cell phone – and they were all texting. It was almost surreal. They were eating and texting, with their heads down. It was quiet at their table – and sad. Everyone in their own cyber-world.

    I love technology and use it all the time. My older boys currently have their own office together (three of them) downstairs and I have to Skype to talk to them. It’s convenient – and a way for me to be “with them” while still giving them their space. That’s just one of the myriads of ways we use technology. Technology has enabled us to run two businesses out of our home AND given me a chance to develop daily relationships with a few close online friends. 15 years ago I was “alone” in my home. Now I’m daily encouraged by sisters in Christ for a minute here – or a minute there. I love it. BUT yes, at times I allow the computer to take me away from doing something else more important, and we have to be vigilant to guard our hearts in that area. It’s like any gift. It can be used for good – or evil.

  12. c says:

    Then there is a whole other layer to this issue. The public is starting to realize that none of these interactions are really private, if you pay attention to the news anyway. And how can there be any freedom with out privacy? https://ixquick.com/eng/protect-privacy.html

  13. Kelly L says:

    Good points. I never feel obligated to answer the phone unless it is my hubby. Mostly, he is the only one I’interrupt my face to face conversations for.
    I have been out to lunch with my daughter and either answered his call or responded to his text. I always wonder if people are condemning me, not knowing who I am talking to.
    I would caution condemning others on phones. And I say this because the only reason I was concerned about being judged because I had been the judged before. I know this was not your intent of writing, Kelly.

    I do believe it is changing us, but we can determine whether it be detrimental or beneficial.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Kelly,

      Oh for sure, no condemnation 😉 Just a warning–to myself as much as to anyone, of how easily it is to get sucked in and neglect our manners.

      • Kelly L says:

        I knew that wasnt your intent.

        I meant to say I was afraid of being judged because I had been the judgER, not judgED before. It was something bad within my own heart that made me aware of the possibility of being judged. Thankfully, God used that for some correction. 🙂

  14. Darcy says:

    I completely agree! My husband was having lunch with some friends (a husband and wife) and they were both texting/on FB on their phones during lunch. When my husband said something to them about not spending time together, they mentioned that they do because they “like” each other’s posts on FB! Oy!

    Just last night at dinner my children were baffled why I wasn’t answering the phone. We just said that if it was important, the person would leave a message and we would call back later. Of course, no message was left so I’m assuming it was just a telemarketer or something, but dinner is a time for my FAMILY to connect with each other and not with devices.

  15. Beth says:

    I enjoyed this post, thank you! I think sometimes, though, that we are quick to assume that because we see someone on a phone, that they are engaging in meaningless texting and social media, and that may not always be the case. I remember being in a craft store once, and pulling up a coupon on my phone while standing in line. An Oder woman behind me grumpily remarked, “You should get your nose off Facebook and pay attention or you’re going to run into someone.”. Now, if I had been shuffling through paper coupons in an enevelope would I have recieved that same critisim? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I relish time alone in a Dr.’s waiting room to read a book on my Kindle app on my phone-I rarely have that opportunity at home, because I’m too busy reading aloud to my littles, preparing meals etc. Would I be less judged if I brought an actual book with me to read? Anyway….my two cents, and I can certainly see the validity of the points you raised in the post-thanks!

  16. Julie says:

    You would enjoy a movie called capitaved by the Gunn brothers. It is very thought provoking. They also have movies (documentary’s) on the public school system, feminism and the decline in Manhood. They are well worth the investment. I have never watched “the widows mite.” that is the only movie of theirs I am do not recomend because I have not seen it. http://www.colingunn.com/

  17. Joy says:

    This is something I have struggled with as well. I hate when I am with someone and they text or take phone calls. It’s like people don’t even realize how rude it is. I am raising my children without much technology (supervised limited internet and email, occasional phone calls, no personal phones). I follow a website called Hands Free Mama, and she addresses this same issue all the time — the distractions that take us away from our kids. Hands free means keeping our hands free of smart phones, etc. so that they are free to hug our children. I think it’s so important to be “present” for your family (and friends).

  18. Bambi says:

    Hi! This is the first time I’ve commented because these have been my exact thoughts! How is this socially affecting our society? I’ve sat waiting for a car repair in an area full of people and everyone was attached to some sort of device. No one spoke to each other, smiled or acknowledged any one else in the room. I was amazed!! and not in a good way!

  19. Trisha says:

    OHHHHH, MY ! This is a subject that hits home hard with me and my family –much to say , but I agree wholeheartedly with the content here.
    One of our older sons left home because we do not “buy into” the whole media communication that is available. One of the slogans in our home is “phones are tools , not toys”. He wanted texting , facebook, and an i-phone more than his family. He chose to not to graduate first, wanting them so bad. He has been struggling financially to live on his own for the past 1.5 years so he could have them.
    We have a name for answering the phone at home or anywhere when it interferes with family time (devotions, meals, school, game time, reading aloud , nursing/rocking the baby ….etc. ,of course ,there are exceptions). We call it being a “phone slave”. We teach our children not to run when it rings, but to wait for us to ask them to bring it to us if it is a good time to receive a call. If it is not a good time we just let the answering machine get it, as most calls can wait.
    Yesterday I had a friend visiting. We were going over some verses in the Bible and the phone rang. Not wanting to interrupt our time together , I let the machine get it and listened to the message . Turned out to be an elderly neighbor laying on the ground with a broken hip and a phone in her pocket !She need me to take her the hospital. Both the phone and the answering machine came in mighty handy that day ! : )
    I have in the past 20 years resisted EVERY step of technology starting with cordless phones ! I KNEW I would probably spend more time on the phone if I could carry it into every room ! Sure enough ! Answering machines meant I would have to return calls, but at least I could decide when it was more convenient to do it. Cell phones–certainly good for the self employment situation we were in , but really–what did we EVER do w/o them !Lets face it, we who are in our 40’s are the last generation to know what it was like t grow up w/o them –somehow we survived that dark age ! : ) I just began to email 6 years ago and a good friend “welcomed me to the 90’s” ! : ) I did not even know how to turn on a computer until 7 years ago , when my husbands business demanded that I work a few days a week to get it going that first year. We had had a computer in the home for almost 10 years already by then, but I had too much else to do.
    While I state all this resistance on my part , I could also state all the reasons that these things can make life easier and more enjoyable. I know those reasons and so do all of you. The question is , how much is too much ? And do we cross the line at rudeness , or at least frustrating others with our use /misuse of technology in the area of communication.
    God has the answer for each of us individually. We all have to ask Him and be accountable to Him for our time and actions in this.
    BTW, my husbands new boss insisted on buying him an I-phone just yesterday , which will help him in his job to be more efficient on the worksites. GROAN ! : (
    I know my husband will not have trouble treating it as a “tool not a toy”, but my 14 year old son already is drooling over it ! SIGH ….
    More training and praying …….: )
    Thank you for touching on such an important subject , so important for our children and us today.
    Trisha W.

  20. Candace says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Kelly! With every word!

  21. Diane says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I also thing it’s creating a socially challenged world. It seems like face to face interaction now causes anxiety in many people. I’ve noticed if I’m vocal to someone, asking how they are, or even giving a compliment, sometimes I get this reaction like I’m crazy for talking to them! I’m worried that in about thirty years when my generation is sixty-something, we will not be the kind, older folk who support each other and encourage younger ones in our lives. Instead we are going to be lonely people with no real human interaction because we’ve spent so many years letting technology account for 90% of our interactions with people. I have a rule at my house: no cell phones at the dinner table. If my nieces/nephews come to the table with phone or iPod, they lose it for the rest of the day.

  22. Rachel says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I featured this post on my “Friday Favorites” today 🙂

    You can check it out at http://wifethenmama.blogspot.com/2013/06/how-to-drink-more-water.html

  23. Erica says:

    I held out for a cell phoe. Then finally agve in after being stuck on the side of the road with a van load of kids. Of course my DH already had a cell phone with a plan, so it only made sense to add me. I picked out a cute little phone. I was pleasantly surprised that I could go online because I hadn’t thought about that when purchasing. BUT it works out well for us becuase we only have 1 PC and some of our educational lessons are online so we do a lot of transferring who’s on and when. That only makes it harder for me to run my business because the kids have the PC tied up all day. So it came in handy so I can keep up with my business on my phone. Thankfully I have enough sense to know when to put it away. I also had already learned the technology lesson because I joined Facebook about 5-6 years ago and went a little nuts at first. After realizing that I had spent all day one day JUST on FB I decided that I had to stop. So I only jump on sites like that once every two weeks! I have also had to cut back on the blogs I follow because they got to be too much as well. I picked the top 2 in each category I follow and the rest got cut off. Otheriwse I could spend all day every day on the Internet and STILL not read it all!

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