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.


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