Woke up this morning.
Put on the coffee.
Fed the pets.
Poured cup of coffee.
Turned on phone.
Turned on computer:
checked CNN.com home page, my two email accounts and facebook page.
And now I am blogging.
In the 45 years that I have been alive, the world has changed tremendously. Technology has multiplied at such a rate that you almost need a separate college major, just to keep up with the advances. I realized that today when - as saavy as I attempt to be - I realized that I do not yet 'twitter'... 'Twitter'? Huh???
Now I email, I have a cell phone, I have a three computers in my home, I have a blog, I have access to three email accounts, I "google" and now, do I have to 'twitter'? I thought that was something that birds did.... but then I found out (on CNN.com mind you) that Lindsay Lohan 'twittered' a racy photo of her person to the world. Another friend of mine has invited me to 'twitter' as well - and I thought he wanted me to whistle! Goodness!
Now before you get the idea that I am an enemy of technology, progress or don't want the Iranians to communicate their displeasure to the outside world through the latest gadgets.... that's not true. I like progress and gadgets. I am glad that technology is enabling social systems to change. But I am concerned on two fronts.
First, technology has become a self-sustaining economic entity causing the rise and fall of fortunes, and thus is an integral part of the health or dysfunction of our world economic system. All of the world must now be wired to survive. If one cannot afford the latest technology, then he or she must settle for less. Technology in the West then tends to form an economic caste system of its own, separating the 'haves' from the 'have nots' and thus marginalizing those who cannot 'connect'.
Second, a person becomes an outcast - a dalit or untouchable - if you choose not to be technologically connected or simply cannot afford to technologically connect. Communications technology has caused a massive shift in how human beings in the West - or any 'first world' culture - relate to one another. 'Texting', 'twittering', 'emailing', 'facebooking' and other "actual presence not required" communications mediums have replaced face-to-face or even voice-to-voice contact as the preferred method of relating.
And here is the problem: There is now a whole generation of American youth who do not know how to express their feelings, their 'self' in person, face-to-face. So, they post their pleasure or displeasure on facebook, on a blog, or now simply 'twitter' it. Now, again, before you think I am anti-technology, let me say this is not the case: what I am concerned about is how we have invested ourselves into it.
As my friend Stan Grenz so wonderfully phrased it, human beings are "created for community": community with the Creator, each other and the rest of creation. We are created to speak with God, make intimate relationships with each other and to stop, look at and smell the roses. If used without conviction and restraint, technology can rob us of the authentic relationships for which we are created. Through the various communication mediums we employ, we can represent ourselves as something other than what we are and what we feel. We don't have to do that... but more often than not, we do. It is a self-defense mechanism. We don't want to take the risk of being turned down or rejected, so we ever-so-slightly misrepresent ourselves through technology to "give the impression" we want... technology has just made it that simple. On the other hand, communications technology has also made it easier for us to break relationships and to hurt people. We no longer have to confront people in person with our decisions. We can text or email them with our decisions 'to break-up', to quit or to voice our protest. The safety is in that we don't have to face the other person's response. We don't have to see his or her humiliation, hurt or pain. We don't have to experience the implications of our own actions...
This past May, I was attending commencement as a faculty member at my university. After the ceremony, the faculty gathers outside the door in full regalia to greet the new graduates and their parents for pictures and goodbyes. As the graduates and their families began to disperse, I noticed a young woman and a young man waiting for me patiently. Both were students at HPU and the young lady in particular had been in several of my classes. They both wanted to say goodbye as they left for the summer. We spoke, smiled and laughed. The young man shook my hand and the young lady gave me hug. I think there were a few tears, but happy ones. My heart smiled.
I am not anti-technology; I am pro human. I need to hear voices, see faces and smell roses... and so do you. We cannot avoid the pain in life, and we desperately need to cultivate the joy of relationships. Let your technology serve you, rather than the other way around. Grace.