Distractions are all around us and they come in all forms. Noise hits us from the time we wake up with a blazing alarm to the time we go to bed with most of us turning of the blaring noise of television as the last distraction. In between telephones, texts, tweets, Face Book messages and more, our psyche is constantly on the lookout to be aware of missing a potential call of belonging to someone.
In addition, deadlines, advancing in our jobs, navigating traffic, opinions of everyone around us from religion to politics and the schedules we build into our own lives in order to create healthy happy families tax our brains in a way that they were never designed to withstand. Our current world has advanced in such a way that not only did we leap beyond the advances of electricity and astronomy but now add to that techonology that has invaded our world and ask what that has done to our brains.
Our brains were created for a given capacity and science is even wondering if we have the capacity to keep up with our ever-changing landscape (example: http://nell-rose.hubpages.com/hub/Has-Technology-Progressed-Faster-Than-The-Human-Mind) but what I want to challenge here is how this has impacted our ability to relate to each other.
As we plug into this technology, are we losing the art of communication and relating, and would we even recognize it if we were?
The word ‘fellowship’ comes from the Greek term Koinonia meaning to partner, come together, commune or better yet, communicate. But it was meant to be in person. You can see it in it’s term in the medical field of a fellowship when a medical student would ‘follow’ another to learn from and grow by being in a close proximity and relationship with an experienced doctor prior to going it alone. In days gone by it was expected that they would ‘break bread’ together, or in my earlier days it meant coming over for dinner and hanging out.
Unfortuntately, in today’s terms it has less of a personal connotation and more of a distractedness to it as the younger generation finds it normal to fellowship through their technology. They have found solice in this form of communication and are gaining comfort there. It is evident when they come for dinner and it’s as though their 265 friends are also at the table with them because they want to intuitively look down to their technology device to see if one of those associates has something to say while we are having our own discussion.
And I say technology device rather than simply say telephone or cell phone because there are times that the cell phone hasn’t worked for some reason and they have some sort of back up device to remain connected yet I haven’t quite figured out what that all means. Now, I wish that I could say it begins and ends only with my children. However, my husband and I are also engaged in this web of technology as well. If I happen to leave the room to complete a task that may take longer than three minutes, my husband’s impatience will draw him to pull out his cell phone or lap top to check his email or Face Book page to see if any one of his 600+ (friends)? had something to say to him and if they did not then he’ll launch an app for a game that will entertain him during this ‘down time’. Should this not be enough, the television will run in the backgroun to offer a soothing hum of noise that will lul his mind until I return to the room. I’d like to say that I’m above it, but often the reason I’ve left the room is to check my own email or Face Book. When we’re out on ‘date night’ we see the same thing happening across the restaurant with couples and families.
The opposite of fellowship is distraction. The definition of distraction is a great intensity, novelty or attraction of something other than the object of attention (people we love and care about.) Something has come between you and those you love and care about – something of great intensity, novelty and attraction that has caused your focus and eyes to shift. Something so sneaky that it has not only shifted your eyes and attention but has fooled you into thinking that you can have it both ways…you can have it (the novel object) AND the love of your life…so what’s the harm?
The harm is that I can’t have a simple dinner with my entire family without forcing that object to be hidden away into a drawer, purse or car so that I can have their undivided attention for a few hours. Now, many people have that rule in their homes. But isn’t it sad that this must be a rule? Isn’t it sad to think that while this rule might exist and I may then have a quality conversation with my children, there is another object lingering out there calling their names like an adulterous who says to them you are not whole or complete if you miss a message or that you will miss out on something important until you get back to me? Isn’t it sad that my children, my husband or even I might fall for that lie?
Whether you believe me or not, I challenge you to unplug. I challenge you to unplug for a moment – not a moment assigned by me but a moment you determine for yourself. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone throwing themselves off of a bridge. You may only be able to unplug for an hour while someone else may unplug for an entire week.
But during that time of unplugging, go see someone in person. Talk with them. Look them in the eye. Be fully present. Do not be distracted. If you are a believer in God, make time for Him. Unplug and spend some time at the lake or park talking to Him – face to Face. Finally, maybe you just need to unplug and spend time with yourself. Take a walk in the fall leaves, enjoy the crisp air, take a bubble bath, go hunting if you’re a guy, work on the car….visit yourself. Unplug and see what beauty arises.
Unplug – then let me know how your time away from technology helped your soul. Psalm 119:15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
Yesterday I invited a new-found friend on a day drive. I don’t know if she’s on Face Book as I haven’t asked her yet. I simply asked her if she wanted to take a drive. We explored the country side and had lunch in a quiet Amish town at a renovated hotel that was absolutely beautiful. We stopped for her to purchase produce from a local Amish farm as I took photos of the farm cat who caught a mouse and was carrying it across the garden before we headed to one of the most unique antique shops, Sister’s Garden. The shop is an old renovated farm with not one, but two farm houses with the most beautiful junk that has been transformed into treasures. We shared stories for hours on our trip and I realized that our stories are like that – junk that is transformed into treasures. No quick message on a text or Face Book post could ever substitute that day.
I realize that these times can’t always occur and that the texts and posts DO keep us in touch. I have lifelong friends in states that I will not get to see in person for months, if not years and so I’m grateful for the technology that enables me to stay connected. But in the midst of it, I just challenge us to not lose the art of friendship, family and face-to-face communion that binds us in a place in the heart that nothing else could possibly do. We are designed at our core for relating. Let’s relate.