Adrift in the Screen Age

image005The speed and amount of data coming at us on our computers, laptops, and cellphones, and soon through our glasses and watches, is startling. The average American spends eight and a half hours in front of a screen. We produce every two days as much information as existed from the dawn of time until 2003. Moreover, we can and many do open their gates to this flood all day, every day.  The average American spends eight and a half hours in front of a screen.

Is this a problem? It is in some cases. Take Kord Campbell who may be the poster boy of the new communications world. He was highlighted in a New York Times article which revealed that he sleeps with an iPhone or laptop on his chest. Nearby a workstation has two computers gushing with new emails and online chats. He escapes into video games during times of emotional stress and forgets family dinners.  A daughter laments that he favors his technology over her. His wife worries about his technological addiction, but “if I hated technology I’d be hating who he is.”

Reread that last line. Hopefully, we are more than our technologies, but we are shaped by the relentless visual images and bits of data on our screens with their instant distractions and momentary satisfactions. Even before the screen age, it was easy to become lost amidst the hectic pace of modern life. Years ago I got pneumonia and was in a hospital for two weeks. Suddenly, all of my many daily crises faded to nothing. I just wanted to go home and hug my wife, and I had an overwhelming awareness that I should devote my life connecting to people and to God. (Mt. 22: 36-40)

Not everyone gets such a direct call to change. But somehow amidst the tempting buzzes of our shiny machines, we must remember the fundamental Fs-family, friends and faith. And Mr. Campbell and those like him should turn off their computers early in the evening. Put down your cell phone and pick up your children. Dedicate instrument free periods like when you are driving. Check your e-mails only once an hour or less. Join things that are not online, like Church events or a club, sport, or gardening. Join your family at dinner. These are small things but they can lead to the big things, maybe even the biggest thing of all if he will listen.

Questions

1)     How many hours do you spend on a screen each day? Is it too many?

2)     What can you do to control the use of communication technologies for you and your family, your grandchildren? What are some new rules that you could put in place to control its use?

3)     In our churches how can we counter the lure of the screen? What activities will draw people, especially young people, to our embodied and incarnational faith?

Prayer

Lord I struggle to hear you over all the noise.
Instead of hearing the good news, I only hear a dull roar.
We build a new Babel and it babbles all the time.
I am drawn into the stream of shiny images pouring from my screens.
But why?
You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
There is nothing else.
So burn away the dense fog of noise and images around me.
Let me lie down besides your still waters and
Feel the shining rays of your son.
You are my peace; You are everything.
Let me rest softly in the palm of your hand.

This article was created for “The High Calling” –  http://www.thehighcalling.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *