The devices meant to be accessories to our lives, to assist us, have become tyrants of our time and worse, of our real relationships.
We are pulled by our ringing phones, the text message alert, the Facebook comment alert and the bizarre twist of irony that somehow, if we look up for too long and gaze into our real lives, we’ll miss something important.
I say it’s time to stop talking about how much time everyone spends with their favorite brand of social media and make serious resolutions to change it.
Because the real people right in front of us–we’re missing them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m so thankful for the ability to shoot an email to a friend to check on her, or the way it’s so easy to reach someone when we need them. I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet people and be involved in a ministry where women can teach and encourage other women. And for the ability to run a (kind-of) business from home, on my own time, with far less demands than most jobs. I’m not talking about throwing it all away, simply putting it back in the place it belongs–a help to us to enhance our lives, and not an addiction.
The biggest problem our technology causes us is the false sense of being always available. I say “false” because in reality, we are NOT available to every person 24 hours a day. Each one calling or emailing or texting may think we are, but when 15 different people “out there” are expecting that we drop the people here to answer them immediately, our families quickly stand in danger of being neglected.
The answer is to hold the phone, the computer, the I-pad at a distance, make people aware of that distance and then create the needed parameters to enforce the distance.
What I mean is, people need to know that you may or may not answer your phone if they call. And it may be that you can turn the ringer off or not keep it on your person to resist the temptation. Creating boundaries and refusing to let the outside barge in at any time is crucial.
One thing that has helped me is to simply not own a device that I keep with me. My daughter who drives and I have a phone we take if we go somewhere, and then it’s put away at home.
We own two lap tops. Both are kept stationary in the living area to keep all members using it accountable. The fabulous thing about them is that we can walk away. And once we do, we are completely disconnected. I have to make a conscious decision to go and open a facebook tab and check it. I’m not aware every time someone posts or comments.
I still struggle with self-control and getting on the computer too often. It pulls me. I want to check things. But I’m resolving to create more limitations and be more deliberate about living this life in front of me.
Let’s be fully here. Eyes open, ears attentive, face available and attention undivided.
Are you with me?