Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
I once read someone’s tweet (ironically) quoting Shane Hipps: “I don’t use Twitter because it takes you out of the present moment to commentary on the moment.”
This reminded me of a trip I took in college to Israel. It was such an amazing place, I wanted to document every moment. I took more than 900 photos and extensively journaled about every aspect of the trip. About two years later, I had a chance to go again. This time I decided to simplify things. I took about 90 pictures. It felt like a deeper experience—I soaked up the culture more, noticed things that I did not see the first time, and was more present with others on the trip. When I didn’t concern myself with documenting the experience, I felt more engaged in the experience. Being an artist and perfectionist, I realize some of this could be a personality thing, and others might have a totally different reaction.
Recently I was at a restaurant and in the table next to me was a family with teenagers. All of them, including the parents, were either texting or talking on their phones—not really speaking much to one another. I thought, What it will be like when my sons (who are 3) become teenagers? Will we be so plugged into technology that we lose some of our ability to connect to each other? How can I prevent this? How am I contributing to this already?
You see, I love technology and use it a lot. It’s not only a big part of my job, it is a big part of my social life. I read articles and blogs about the latest technology, and dream of owning the latest gadget before it even comes out. Often I can spend much of my day looking at a screen of some sort—my phone, computer or TV. To be honest, at times it’s gotten in the way of me being present with the people in the room.
As my sons move into adolescence in the next 10 years, the pace and prevalence of technology is sure to grow exponentially. I am seeking to help them navigate this, as well as find personal balance. I think having places and moments in our lives where we “tech detox” is going to become more critical.
Maybe a role of the Church will increasingly be to help us slow down and emphasize being present in person to person interactions. To create sacred spaces where we can unplug, listen, be still and pray. To be a part of more personal, deeper, smaller communities of people, where dialogue and interaction are key components.
Father, remind me to step away from technology to focus on the present. Help me be disciplined to stay away from technology and not rely on it.