| Our smart phones may be killing us. I am not talking about the brain tumors they may be causing. I am waiting for more evidence on that claim before I worry. I am talking about how connected we are. Maybe I am really talking about death of or damage to our souls more than bodily death, though the former often leads to the latter. Many of us remain connected essentially all the time, never really being away from calls, texts and emails. I know people who sleep with their iphones and check email when they wake during the night. This cannot be good.|
Our devices now make it possible for us to do some work every waking hour. If you find yourself sneaking about to respond to an email while at home or at a restaurant, not wanting your beloved to know that you are still devoting some energy to work, you may already be in deep trouble. A word of advice for you who date: if on a first date, Mr. or Miss Wonderful checks his/her email at the table, run as fast as you can. This does not bode well.
It is not the mindless chatter that drives us crazy in public spaces that worries me the most. Hearing a protracted and usually loud conversation about a total stranger's boyfriend or girlfriend trouble is maddening and tacky, but I don't think that it is as dangerous as the souls working at home, or on the way home, to scrape one last bit of work out of an already too long work day. At some point, one needs to power down because our bodies, our relationships, the fullness of our lives need to be disconnected.
A couple I know recently admitted the craziness of their lives and instituted the observance of the Sabbath in their home. Arbitrarily they chose from 6:30 on Friday evenings through 11:30 on Saturday mornings as their time. Promptly at 6:30 phones, laptops, and televisions are powered down for them and their two children. Dinner is eaten together with no interruption, the evening and morning are spent in games or reading. At 11:30 it is "Katy bar the door" as each one races to his device of choice, but it is a start!
None of this is easy. My confession is that I find people who are quite intent upon protecting their disconnected time slightly annoying. "What do you mean you don't check your email in the evening," I find myself wanting to ask. Or, "You didn't look at your email all weekend? What?" Obsessions breed obsessions, and we look for them in others. Those of us who live largely connected lives are secretly judgmental of those whistle blowers who say "enough is enough." We probably need to take a look at that.
It is a discipline, and I am not there yet. Deep down inside I am not even sure that I want to be there, but my internal soul check tells me that I need to be. I doubt if I am alone.
It is still early enough in the New Year to think about a new way of interacting with these devices, the bane of our existence and the joy of our lives.
What do you think?