I am not a technology nazi (feel free to interject with your favorite Seinfeld Soup Nazi impersonation at this time). In fact, I love technology (feel free to interject with you favorite Napoleon Dynamite’s Skip impersonation). I promise this blog won’t continue with all these movie one-liner interjections. Hopefully! To be honest I am as “nerdy” as they come. To date I have watched all but one WWDC. If you don’t know what that means then there is still hope for you. If you are thinking about googling that right now through the multitask capability of your smart device then you better keep on reading because, my friend, you are worse than you believe. At times I think I suffer from a true case of separation anxiety if my iPhone, iPad, or Mac is not within reaching distance. I didn’t think it was that bad until my wife and I decided to start having “tech-no” Mondays. For one evening of the week our family takes a technology sabbatical. No phones (unless a picture was needed), no iPads, no computers, no TV unless it’s for a family movie, and no video games. No techno, hence the “tech-no” title. Sounds great right? Yeah well I found myself struggling more than I would like to admit. I found myself reaching for my pocket periodically every 15 minutes or so. What if someone was trying to contact me? What if someone was in trouble? What if someone needs some advice? What if I don’t respond to a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram conversation in a timely manner? And for the love of all humanity what if it took me more than 30 minutes to reply to a text? These were serious questions that I was contemplating.
Regretfully after some self critique I realized that almost every morning the first thing I had been doing was checking my phone for things I may have missed through the night. I would like to say the first thing I was doing was giving my wife a good morning kiss and then praying, but that would be a lie. I do pray and read frequently in the morning it just comes after I tap-in to see what the world of technology was up to. I also realized that almost every night I was having one last scroll through social media before calling it a day.
You’re probably thinking, “Wow. He is messed up!” All I can say is don’t go pointing out the iPhone in my eyes when you have a much larger screened 3rd generation, much better resolutioned, iPad in front of yours! (Feel free to interject with your own biblical reference to Matthew 7:3 ESV) Seriously, try going an entire evening with all internet and text message capable devices put away. Most people like me will be surprised to find the difficulty in this task.
It’s more of a problem than you think! Author Kevin DeYoung, who wrote the book CRAZY BUSY, says: “We are always engaged with our thumbs, but rarely engaged with our thoughts. We keep downloading information, but rarely get down into the depths of our hearts.” In other words we occupy much of our time thumb scrolling and browsing through the internet and all it’s social media and neglect the relationships around us and ourselves. Soul-searching, I used to hear that word and think it was only for devout Christians who had 15 or more years of experience and theologians. I have, despite what you might think, had moments of soul-searching. These moments have had one thing in common. Silence! They were moments where I took the time in the silence of my car to talk with God. Walks in the woods by myself and the almost extinct moments of silence in my home have produced these “soul-searching” moments. I must confess that technology has taken more of these moments than I can tally. Instead I found myself trying to affirm myself, my position, and even at times my character by the number of likes I received on a Facebook post, the response that a tweet received, or how admiration an Instagram post received. But that was just the first layer of what I found. I became aware that if I text someone I found myself expecting a reply within seconds. If I sent an email I was expecting a reply within a one or two hours, unless you were a close friend, then that time is cut in half. What?!!! I was more impatient with the people who were close to me than those who weren’t?!!!
I have come to the conclusion that my “sickness” should could be diagnosed as a case of Tech-no Affirmation! Is it curable you ask? Yes! But you have to be willing to not rely on technology for communication as much. You have to be willing to succumb to the fact that your families opinion of you matters more than your 800 friends on Facebook, because lets be honest you don’t even know who a big majority of them are. Don’t use social media for affirmation. “I don’t care anymore if my post only earns 3 likes, I have 3 people in my home who will like me with or without the approval of social media.” The last thing you have to be willing to do is have more patience. Give people time to respond. They have busy lives too. Just because they haven’t responded in 30 minutes does not mean there is something wrong with your relationship. It just means they are busy just like you. Here is a good antidote for Tech-no Affirmation: Calling is better than texting. Visiting is better than calling. Remember there is no substitute for dwelling with physical people in a physical place.
Join me and quit giving your family and God a social media-like relationship. Put your device down and spend time with them!