I am certainly not anti-social media or anti-technology. I really enjoy going to the Apple Store. I "tweet." I "like." I text ... but not while driving. I practice "safe text." But, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that, even though these things have brought about so much good in our lives, they can also keep us from so much in our lives.
This past Sunday we were challenged in our services to simply recognize some of the things that media/technology can keep us from. Here are some of my notes ...
Media/Technology Can Keep Me From:
... Recognizing My Limits. Technology always beckons us, but there is only so much attention I am capable of giving. Am I focusing the best of my attention on what matters most. When I'm out with my wife, will she feel as if she has the best of my attention if I'm checking my phone. When I'm sitting with my kids, will they feel as if they have the best of my attention if I'm texting or on Facebook. When I'm driving, will the road have the best of my attention while I'm driving a 1000 pound vehicle if I respond to that text or feel the need to make that phone call. I only have so much capacity for attention. Use it on what matters most.
... Solitude. Solitude and silence are foundational to our Christian faith. We need time alone with God and yet we are often afraid to sit in silence. Maybe it's just the introvert in me, but I really feel that time alone in quietness is a key discipline to have in our lives. It not only helps me connect with God, it really helps keep me sane. Deciding to have times of solitude is one of the best decisions I have made.
... Thinking. Sometimes I can be so quick to simply go see what someone else says about something online rather than actually spending time thinking through the matter on my own. It's not that it's wrong to do online research or anything like that. I love listening to podcasts and sermons by other pastors. I read other blogs as well. It's a great way to feed my soul. But, it's more the idea that it's important for me to spend time thinking on my own. It helps keep my brain fresh.
... Reality. I can create my own world online and look really good. I can post the best pictures, update the best statuses, and even create a game character that can help me escape a reality that I'm not so happy with. As a parent, it's real easy to post things from my best parenting days and make it appear as if I'm always a great parent. If only that were the case. I have more than my share of parenting fails ... like the one I just had earlier today. Wait, make that two ... no ... three parenting fails today.
... Being Face to Face. As good as it social media and technology can be to help us stay in touch, I'm not sure we can truly be connected unless we're face to face ... voice to voice. There is just something about sitting across from someone and talking directly to them. It's certainly easier to just send a message or a text. It's faster, more convenient. But, I'm not sure I can have true intimacy with someone online. It's certainly a tool that can aid a relationship by helping stay connected, but I just feel there is no replacement for sitting across from another person and having a great conversation with them.
My Big Take-a-Ways From the Weekend Were:
... Be present. When I'm with my wife ... be all there. When I'm with my kids ... be all there. Don't detach from them mentally and emotionally by going to social media while with them.
... Guard the number of times I go to social media sites. I can find myself going to them mindlessly if I'm not careful and that can cause me to miss so much that is going on around me.
... Be mindful of my motives. Am I posting or tweeting to make myself look good? Am I truly trying to be encouraging or am I simply creating a "world" in which I look a whole lot better than I truly am.