Does your cell phone rule you? Or are you Lord of the Laptop?
A dramatic change has overtaken our culture in the last ten years. Whether you like it or not, it seems electronics are glued to people everywhere. Or rather, we are glued to them. iPhones & Blackberries are pulled from the pocket every few moments during dinner conversations; family gatherings are disrupted by quick stops to the kitchen computer for an email check or a Google search; and laptops have all but replaced coffee dates at the caffeine bar of choice. Just a few days ago I sat in a Starbucks off of 5th Avenue in Lower Manhattan and every single person was on a laptop or reading from a PDA. While my friend and I managed a few spartan words between each other, we eventually joined the masses and pulled out our mobile phones to check email, texts, voice mail, FaecBook, and Twitter.
The question is, what did we do before them?
While I could wax eloquent like the miserable but charming post-modernist Frank Navasky from You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan’s character’s boyfriend), convincing you I’m actually writing this from an Olympia Report Deluxe Electric typewriter, I’m not, nor am I going to. That’s idealism. And it’s pointless. Unless you want to become Amish. I’m on my 21″ iMac, and my iPhone 3GS is in comfortably in my jean’s pocket. And I’m proud of it. But the question remains, have we forgotten how to think for ourselves without the interweb? Can we define who the Soviets were without the use of a search engine? And better still, can we still carry on a conversation with other carbon-based life forms in the flesh without texting them to initiate the dialog?
Ultimately, the question is, “What are you doing to rule the beast?” As a guy who loves technology, and openly embraces its profound positive affects on my life, I’ve had to come face to face with the fact that I wasn’t doing enough to rule over it, and need to be ever vigilant of the monster. A 40-day media fast taught me a lot: making sure to keep my computer out of my home a few days a week; limiting my time on my iPhone for things other than phone calls (which I hate talking on the phone); and making sure I’m spending time staring at my wife and childrens’ faces rather than a flat, lifeless screen.
Technology isn’t going anywhere. If anything, its role in our lives will only increase. And rightfully so. We become more efficient, more informed, and more connected, allowing us to reach Kingdom objectives more quickly than any time in history. That’s because technology is God’s invention, not ours. But making sure the animal stays in its cage can be more challenging than we might think.
What are you doing to keep the monster at bay? Care to share some of your tips with us?