Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Smart” Communication, or Isolation? -- Peter Black

The unveiling of the long-awaited new generation – and hoped-for company saviour – of the Blackberry smartphone is all the buzz at the time of my writing. Optimistic pros and pessimistic cons as to its likely or unlikely success range widely. Only time will tell. This reminded me of some musings I had a while back.
A smartphone rippled its signal. The man thumbed it and scanned the screen. It was a text message. He closed it and yelled, “If you wanna tell me something, young lady, you come here and talk t’me!” Ten seconds later a teenager appeared and delivered her message, face to face with her dad.
Technology has its place, but is by nature disruptive. Continually evolving with extreme rapidity, “smart” technology is far-reaching. Offering unprecedented ease of communication, it provides instantaneous interaction with people on the other side of the globe. That’s great. But it is also so far-reaching that it plays into social interaction, makes inroads into privacy, intrudes into family dynamics and takes over relational time and space, even among people dwelling under the same roof. 
At present I have a mobile phone but not a smartphone. Not surprising, since I – being the dinosaur that I am – use email by desktop computer and land phone to connect long distance with friends and family, some of whom I haven’t seen for years or who live far away or abroad.
There’s no doubt, online social networks bring people together (I'm on several), but the potential to isolate is ever present. For example: the teenager who’s holed up in his room, endlessly surfing the internet or interacting with other buddies (and God knows what he is viewing and what influences he’s exposed to that may be shaping his values). 
 Or, consider the person who can hardly go from the kitchen to the bathroom, bedroom or basement without messaging her girlfriends to share the moment by moment trivia of what she’s doing and thinking; or, the guy tapping out a text message over the steering wheel, his eyes off the road and boring down on his smartphone. Dangerous, irresponsible, and not so smart!
Is this a rant? Not quite . . . mebbe close. Perhaps you too, have experienced both the benefit and the bane of technology in its ability to connect, communicate and foster meaningful relationships, as well as its potential to divide and isolate.
Prayer has been, and I believe always will be, an effective avenue for connecting and adjusting one’s relation with God and with oneself. A fruit of that is an enhanced ability to relate to others more effectively than we otherwise would. When prayer becomes a constant way of life, communication happens. We sense our dependency on God our Heavenly Father and Creator, and this sharpens our perspective on our personhood and the significance of our life; we know we belong, even if others shut us out.
I’m sure that nothing affords relationship, belonging and a home for the soul, as can be found in communion with God, through prayer.
Let us approach Him then, in prayer, with a grateful heart, in the name of Jesus Christ His Son. We are invited through prayer to confess our faults and failings and our sins, and also to praise God for His goodness, while giving thanks for His mercies. This can position us to receive grace, and bring heaven near, even to our souls.
P.S. Hmm. Maybe I could get the hang of that latest Blackberry -- if I really had to!  :)                     
 ~~+~~
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book." His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.
 

 


6 comments:

Diana said...

Good post, Peter. I'm a dinosaur, like you. I struggle with how it all affects us. But really, all technology has done similar things... the invention of cars, of telephones, of the spinning jennys (in the late 1700s) and mechanical looms, (about the same time, or a little later)... the list goes on. I think there is no good answer this side of heaven. The Mennonites and Amish have tried and still try to eschew the world's technology but they have this weird dichotomy of using products like Pampers, and wearing running shoes (made by technology) with their long dresses and in their non-electrical homes. And they are isolated, to whatever degree they refuse to use modern technology. And, actually, the same thing is happening in many fundamentalist Islamic countries and/or groups. I'm not saying they are wrong and we are right. Just saying. Maintaining relationships will always take work and struggle, no matter who we are and what we do or don't use.

Janis Cox said...

Peter,
I do believe that we have to watch how much we focus on anything one thing. Focusing on God has to be the first and foremost of each day. After that it is how He leads us.

But I see cell phones - computers with instant messaging an intrusion into our daily lives. When they ring in the middle of a conference, Bible study, lunch date - hey- who is more important at the moment?

I felt the same with "call waiting". I don't like to be put on hold while someone gets a call from someone else. Spend time with me first. then go to the caller after.

We may be dinosaurs but I think we have to remember to respect the people who are around us.

We need a "manners' lesson" don't we?

I liked, "but the potential to isolate is ever present."

Face to face is losing its charm. That is NOT good.
Hoping to see the real you in Guelph this year. MAybe we can stop and have a real chat together.

blessings
Jan

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Good thoughts Peter. I like the new technology but I wonder if we soon won't be texting at the dinner table instead of saying, "Pass the salt please." Nothing better than good old face-to-face conversations.

Glynis said...

Good thoughts, Peter. It sure makes me think. I know I find technology a little overwhelming and all-consuming at times. Just like all things - a healthy balance is paramount. We talk about improved communications with one another. That's a good thing. And if we accomplish that with our technology then that is a good thing, too. But if it turns into an obsession then maybe it's not so good. I guess what really counts, like you say, is "letting us approach Him then, in prayer, with a grateful heart, in the name of Jesus Christ..." which ultimately means we cannot lack in our communication with God. Good thoughts.

Peter Black said...

Ladies, thank you for your insightful contributions. I've taken the liberty to take a point or two from each of you (Diana, Jan, Rose and Glynis) to synthesize them as a sample of your collective wisdom:

(Diana:) Maintaining relationships will always take work and struggle, no matter who we are and what we do or don't use.
(Jan:) [Consider, for example] "call waiting". I don't like to be put on hold while someone gets a call from someone else. Spend time with me first. then go to the caller after.
(Rose:) I like the new technology but . . . [n]othing better than good old face-to-face conversations.
(Glynis:) And if we accomplish improved communications with one another . . . with our technology then that is a good thing, too. [U]ltimately . . . we cannot lack in our communication with God.
~~~
Conversational, relational and spiritual blessings to y'all! :)
~~+~~

Sarah Tun said...

The day someone decides to write a post to the LORD is the day we'll know it's just gone too far.
But I would not be surprised if that day hasn't already come.

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