Thursday, September 27, 2012

Progressive Regression

For the last decade or so, we have heard excessive talk about all the latest technological advances and how they have greatly changed and improved our lives. Sometimes when I find myself overwhelmed with returning emails, voice mails, text messages, private messages, and the like, I find our latest technological "advances" an utter curse.  I miss the days when we just called people to say something, and if we didn't get them, no big deal.  We just had to call again later.  I also greatly miss being able to go out for a day or an evening, and not feel strapped down to people all the time.  There is a lack of freedom now in our individual lives and existences that I find exceptionally unhealthy.  Personally, I have tried to avoid conforming to all the social pressures in all these types of communication when and where I can.  In fact, I just got my very first Smartphone only 16 months ago, (yeah, yeah, I know.  I should have been born in the fifties).  I don't do Facebook, (other than my band's group page, of which I was compelled to be a part only for the marketing aspect), and I refuse to tweet about anything (last time I checked, I was not a bird). I admit that I am probably the polar opposite of the person who gets up early the day a new technological gadget hits the market just to go stand in line to purchase it.  I am the one berating that we even needed another such advancement already!

I do realize that cell phones have given us great benefits with regard to safety, convenience, and time.  I sincerely value that I can call my husband easily and always reach him when needed, and vice versa.  If my car breaks down and strands me, or I need him to grab something at the store while he is en route from work, having cell phones is a huge blessing.  It was a great relief upon my daughter, Allie's, entry into her teen years, when cell phones became more readily available.  I knew she could reach me whenever and wherever she needed for emergencies during her teen and college years.  After college, when Allie was living on her own in Dallas, TX as a recruiter for K-State, I loved that she could call me while she was stuck in traffic or sitting in an airport.  We were able to spend that time catching up on each others' lives or even doing some wedding planning for her upcoming "big day," instead of that time being a total waste.  It also helped me as a mom to know she could always dial 9-1-1 for help at any moment if she was ever in need, since she was so far away and out of our immediate protection.

But since this isn't heaven, every blessing typically has its curse.  With the blessing and benefits of cell phones, plenty of annoyances have come forth, as well.  I miss being able to go out for an entire day and having total peace and time for myself.  I miss having more clarity in my thought life--when your phone is buzzing or ringing numerous times in a given day, your brain begins to function that way.  It is like I cannot be still or concentrate on one thing for very long anymore.  And when I find myself doing so, my cell phone is faithful to bring that to a rapid halt.  So I leave the darn thing at home and in the car when I feel I can (but I usually get begrudging remarks from anyone who was unable to reach me).  The distractions we face in this modern-day tech world are vast and numerous. 

"Facebook" is yet another "blessing" and "curse."  Yes, it has brought people closer together who maybe wouldn't have ever picked up the phone or had lost touch due to geographical distance.  But I'm weary of hearing people tout that "Facebook" has made it easier to connect with a lot of people all at once because isn't that what email did for us upon its grand entrance to our lives?!  Along with all these new social media outlets, we are now fostering "virtual community." Instead of spending time with our true friends and growing deep roots with them, we've replaced that with having more frivolous, superficial friendships.  The quantity of "friends" we have is now much more important that the quality.  People will tell you this isn't true for them, but they spend much more time reading about, "who ate what for supper" and looking at meaningless photos of people they barely know, than they do encouraging, spending quality time, and doing fun things with people who should matter.  It is extremely frustrating to attempt to spend a day with someone who finds what other people are currently doing more entertaining than what they could be doing right then with you IN REALITY.

I was reminded the other day as I pondered all this, that though this seems like a "new" problem in our society, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV), "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."  So according to God's Word, it is inaccurate for me to think that all the new technology we have is posing new societal problems. We've got the same issues and problems we've always had in life, they are just being spun differently and require different plans of attack.  It is always amazing to me how when we take a few steps forward, we often times take several backward.  Anytime a major change or "advancement" occurs, we have to evaluate and guard that the new change doesn't replace or alter things that should remain

One example of this is recent research done on how, "Facebook," is affecting marriages.  Many studies show that when surveyed, the majority of American couples state that, "Facebook," has brought some harm to their marriage, even if it is simply that their spouse is, "spending too much time on 'Facebook.'"  In some instances, where a spouse has reconnected with an "old flame," it has even brought total destruction to the marriage.  In December of 2009, "The Tech Journal," included an article about how with the rise of "Facebook," texting, and other social media outlets, the rate of divorce due to these media outlets has also significantly increased.  The article was quite interesting, and even cited that American lawyers claim that one in five divorce petitions state, "Facebook," as the reason or catalyst for the divorce.  In yet another article (and there are many) in, "The Guardian," from March of 2011, it is stated in a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), that, "four out of five lawyers report an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites in the past five years, with 'Facebook' being the market leader."  Obviously, these tech advances have made it much easier for people to be tempted to cheat.  You can now do it from the privacy of your very own iPhone, iPad, or laptop.  People are replacing spending quality time with each other with looking elsewhere for their needs to be met, and it has become quite easy to do so. 

Many of my friends and acquaintances complain often about how they and/or their husbands come home at night after working all day, and their work has only begun because of the hundreds of emails that pour in each day that they don't have time to deal with at work.  My husband faces this daily, as well.  Fortunately, Matt is a quick reader and skimmer, and he usually knows when to stop.  I try not to nag him when duty calls because his work puts a roof over our heads and food on our table, and I know deep down he'd rather not have to work from home.  But I do think the nature of these modern advances is going to require us to find ways to balance and counteract the negative effects from them.  Change requires change.  The best way to deflect from the harmful influences that are robbing us of our joy, our peace, and our quality time with those who should matter, is to turn to God's Word and remember the important things in life--the unchanging truths and the unchanging treasures.  It is so tempting to fall prey to following suit with the world and its chosen avenues for relationships, wisdom, and relational communication.  But life is short, and we have one shot to love those God has placed in our lives (not those we found in an evening surfing the net or Facebook").  And we have one shot to leave a legacy that counts.  There is no time or place in our lives for frivolousness of any kind, and believe me, I need this reminder myself daily.  Again, it is tempting to follow suit with the world and to waste time investing in people who God has not actually put in our lives as a priority.

These verses seem to apply to this topic and to this ever-changing, techno, information-age in which we currently live:

*  In Matthew 24:35, Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."

*  James 1:17 states, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows."

*  Psalms 33:11 says, "But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations."
 
*  Psalms 18:30 states, "As for God, His way is perfect:  The Lord's word is flawless;  He shields all who take refuge in Him."

*  2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness."

*  Hebrews 13:8 states, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." 

*  Psalms 118:8 says, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man."