Many of us these days have very smart phones that can not only call, but have ability to get and send email, stay in touch via Facebook, and send out profound 140 character tweets. They can have many aps (applications) for doing the above things, but also for playing games and taking pictures. But the best ap of all may be the person holding the phone who responds with each ding or vibration, anxious to stay in touch with everyone all at once. We love community and we don’t want to miss out on ANYTHING. The way we are living may mean that we ultimately miss out on the most important community, those closest to us, those people who are the most vulnerable.
During Lent, it is possible that you have been spending time thinking about your life. Perhaps you have been cleaning up your soul, by working on forgiveness. Possibly, you’ve spent time considering your priorities. Perhaps you have even made some changes, spending more time in prayer or with your friends and family.
One impediment to being fully present with others has turned out to be the technology that we alternately love and hate. In some of the new research which was recently reported by Krista Tippett in the “On Being” podcast with Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turkle reveals that children are missing their parents.
Instead of looking a child in the eye as they come home from school, as they eat with them at the dinner table, or watching their antics in the park, the parents are distracted by their cell phones. The instant communication that we love (and hate) has become a barrier to relationship. The latest Facebook post has become more important than watching cartwheels.
In these final days of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate our King, could we consider how to make our new smart phones work for us, instead of us jumping to their tunes?
One possibility is to have no cell phones at the dinner table or at other special times, such as the greeting of people after an absence, even if it is just a day at school or at the office.
You can find Turkle’s book on-line and in stores, the Sherry Turkle Interview at OnBeing.org, as well as a discussion of the interview on the blog. What you cannot find anywhere but in your own heart is your response. How will you let this information inform you?
Will you be an ap for your phone, or will it work for you? Will you, can you, be fully present to other people?