Saturday, February 16, 2013

Technology and the Christian - Part 12

See previous articles for context. (Part 1 here; Part 11 here)

This is a continuation of a series about Technology and the Christian. In this article I want us to think through the relationship between our use of technology and our face to face relationships.
I think all of us have seen the bizarre sight of a man and woman across from each other in a restaurant each texting or talking to someone else. I saw something similar to this on a beautiful evening while walking down the sidewalk. Toward me came a man and woman walking side by side. Both of them had a phone up to their ear talking to someone elsewhere. It seemed to me that in so doing they were missing both the potential communication with the other person as well as all of the interesting sights and sounds of their actual location.

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about remote contacts that is more interesting than those we are with? There is a danger here that I don’t think many people think about. If the person you are with is someone near and dear to you like a wife or a child, and if you repeatedly move yourself from attending to them to attending to someone else (or something else), the relationship changes and is ultimately harmed in some way. It may not be over night, but in time the relationship will not be as strong as it should be.

We are already familiar with the jokes about the husband who is distracted by a newspaper or a ball game when his wife is trying to talk to him. Think about how much greater the barrier is when there is an actual person on the other end of a conversation who is getting precedence over ones own spouse. This kind of thing will certainly happen from time to time, but let’s just imagine the scenario that every evening one spouse is texting some invisible person to the neglect of the person right there in front of him. Doesn’t that have the potential to break down the communication and put distance between the two of them? What if they both are doing it? They are each receiving some sort of fulfilling input from a source other than their spouse. Over time, this has to have a damaging effect on the relationship.

Read what one anonymous reader posted on my blog in response to a technology article:
I read through what you comment combines a few, as I am having jealousy issues with my husband's cell, FB usage, iPad etc. Mostly it is the cell phone usage with access to FB. We have only been married a short time *less than a year* and this is a big issue for me- as it takes away from our time together whether at home, at restaurants, the mall, even at times, at church. Lately I have been praying for patience and understanding....understanding as to why he chooses it over me. We also, btw, have 4 kids with us at any given time. I am going to read through some of the other postings for enlightenment. But, my stance is: these pieces (cell, iPad, FB) can hurt a person or a relationship just by sucking up the TIME it takes away from a loved one.

Let’s consider another scenario. A family of five is home for the evening for a change. Dad and mom decide to watch a movie. The children don’t want to watch that particular movie so the first child goes to his room to watch something he’s interested in on his computer. The next child props his feet up in the family room and listens to his favorite playlist on his Ipod. And the last child texts back and forth with one of her friends from school. In some homes this is normal. It happens every day. Do you see a problem here? The family is together, but not communicating.

Next consider the fact that self-centeredness is fed by this scenario. No one has to learn to appreciate the other person’s taste in music or movies. No one has to learn to share. Everyone can have what suits himself. Sister is not required to talk to brother if she doesn't want to. While this might seem like a reasonable thing in today’s world, for the Christian it is not the direction we want to go.

I've discovered that living the Christian life is an extremely difficult thing especially when it comes to our relationships with others, especially when those others are members of our family. If we are to become the kind of people God wants us to be, don't we have to learn the skills that he values? Next time we'll look at some passages from the Bible that will give us some guidance. be continued...

Part 13 available after it is published here.

PDF version of the entire series

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