Wednesday, January 25, 2012

stepping carefully

I am considering re-entering technology.  I didn't have a specific goal in mind when I said I was breaking for the winter, but it has been over three months and part of me feels ready.

Of course I realize that I never actually "left" technology- I simply tried to cut-back; only email and the occasional blog post, with one day a week for blog reading and pinterest.  I wasn't totally strict about it-  sometimes I cheated and scoured pinterest when I felt like it.  My main fast was from facebook, and even that I treated like email and checked occasionally for notifications.

But the break was good.  It broke my cycle of being constantly distracted, helped me to be present and quiet, gave me some space to think and observe how technology was affecting me.

Reading Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other was equal parts terrifying and profoundly depressing.  Occasionally as I was reading I imagined reading this same book eighty years ago, predicting the dangers of the television or telephone . . . some of which would come true and yet society learned to adapt to it . . . But the reality is that current technology is changing us at a frightening pace, and it seems terribly important that we figure out how to live with "seductive technology," but to not be ruled by it.

I am especially curious to know how the church will eventually respond to our relationship with technology.  The negative effects of being constantly connected that Turkle found in her research are things like a loss of empathy, lack of honesty, hostility, empty relationships, insecurity, parents who are always distracted from their kids, children who've lost a childhood, teenagers struggling to grow into themselves without any opportunity for solitude . . . all of these seem so in opposition to the very basics of our faith: tenderness, transparency, honesty, thoughtfulness, meditation, silence, stillness, compassion.

The book ends with an attempt at optimism.  She suggests that we cannot think of our relationship with technology as an "addiction," because the only option for an addiction is to eliminate, and that will never happen.  The internet is here to stay.  Rather, she says, "we have reached a point of inflection, where we can see the costs and start to take action. . . As we try to reclaim our concentration we are literally at war with ourselves.  Yet, no matter how difficult, it is time to look again toward the virtues of solitude, deliberateness, and living fully in the moment."

I am entering back into technology carefully considering how it can be redeemed, and aware of how easily it can steal life if I allow it.  I know that God can redeem all things; that though this place feels disorienting and scary it is not new to God.  We pray for wisdom and understanding.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations. 
Psalm 119:90


camilla said...

I love the appropriateness of that verse.
My conscience was pricked with the "parents who are always distracted from their kids".

Kristy said...

I've been thinking of cutting back on my tech usage as well. I did it once before and it helped so much but it has been gradually getting more and more lately. Need to regroup and rethink what I am doing.

Janet said...

I agree with Camilla. That's a perfect verse.

ali said...

Jess, I shared the article about the no tech school on the Facebook page for my fellow ksu education majors (there's some irony). A lot of people really liked it. I go back and forth about technology in classrooms. If I'm in public schools it will probably be mandatory....just not sure what I think. I would love teaching at the no tech school ... knitting in math class! I would love it! :) great post. Thanks for sharing. :)