So I’m interested to know your thoughts on this. It’s the head of the Catholic church in England taking a stand against the next wave of evil.
But it’s not homicide, abortion, or drugs. The forbidden fruit this time is something far more innocuous. It’s text messages.
To be fair, it’s actually a lot more than texting. It’s Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and all the other ways that we can connect to one another virtually. But what’s interesting about this Arch-bishop statement (at least to me) is that he seems to bring up a valid point.
He says that too much communication via technology is dehumanizing. We lose the social skills that are necessary to interact face to face. Or even worse, we lose the desire. His main point is that real friendship is hard work, it involves sacrifice, time, and serving one another. And that the danger of social networking is that the emphasis seems to be on quantity of relationships above the quality of them.
A few times a year I get an email from a parent that’s about something like this. Their kid is so plugged into a virtual community that he/she doesn’t seem to have a real life. I usually try to help them see that there are people behind screen names and that there are some legitimate ways that online communities help people connect.
But I’m beginning to wonder, do they have a point?
Rob Bell talked about this many years ago. He pointed out that when God tells Moses to come up and meet him on the mountain, he then follows it with a command to be on that mountain. Which at first seems a bit repetitive. If Moses is meeting God on the mountain than the meeting is going to obviously involve Moses staying on the mountain.
But Bell points out, that God knows human nature. He knows that Moses will spend the entire day trekking up the mountain thinking about getting up there. But the moment he gets on the mountain his thoughts will turn to heading back down. The danger is that Moses might be constantly moving, but never present where he actually is.
A church that I really respect in Atlanta, recently took this to the next level. They started an online church. They have a guy leading worship, prayer, teaching…everything…even online tithes. The heart behind this is to make it as comfortable and non-threatening as possible for new people to enter a church community. But my question is this: Is what we gain by doing this worth what we lose?
It’s not just about the online church. I mean all of it. How many times have you been sitting at a table in a really good conversation when your pocket starts to ring, or your conversation partner starts to text someone else? Are we losing the art of being fully present anywhere by attempting to be present everywhere?
I’m not trying to be nostalgic, or to say that we should just go back to the good ole days of candlelight and ink pens. But when was the last time you turned off your phone? Or went to visit someone instead of sending an email? It seems to me like the arch-bishop may be on to something that we all already know.
Maybe the danger of technology (in excess) is that it makes us something we were never meant to be.
Maybe not all progress is an advance.
But I’m still thinking about this one. What do you think? Is this true in your own life? How has technology hurt or helped your “real” life?