I’ve got a funny relationship to technology. I’ve always been a late bloomer when it comes to adoption of technology. I didn’t really start using email until about 2001. I don’t have a cell phone at all, much less a smart phone. Yeah, that’s right! No cellphone. It can be done. I barely knew about MySpace until it was almost passe and I only got on Facebook about a year and a half ago. I’d like to think I’m somewhat more free from technology but I’m really not. Turns out, I have a complicated relationship with the Internet.
I don’t realize how much I relate to this great, intangible, inter-connected web until I am parted from it. Last week, I moved homes. The transition into our first house is a very rich time filled with lots of changes and surprises. What made those few days even more surreal, however, was the absence of the Internet from my life. * sorry to my legions of blog followers for the week of nothing * We packed our computer and didn’t get hooked back up until the next day. I wouldn’t have expected it to be so weird to be without an online life for one day – just one day – but it was. On that particular day the world kept moving and I – absent from the Internet – was strangely disconnected from it. It turned out to be a big day.
Something wonderful happened. On my Internet-less day some friends of ours gave birth to their fourth child. The baby had been overdue and they’re big Facebook people and so I had been watching for news. Turns out the baby was born during my Internet blackout (how glad I was I didn’t ask this guy to help me move!). How curious it felt to have had to wait a day to find out the news. Even just a few years ago it would have been normal to hear of the little one’s arrival in due course but it felt strange not having been privy to instant news.
Something horrible happened. The same day also bore a different type of news. It was the day of the Boston Marathon and the unspeakable bombing that occurred. It’s been 8 days now and so maybe it seems like old news – the speed of information sometimes feels that fast. Hearing about such an horrific act of violence quite a few hours after it happened was disconcerting to say the least. I felt as though I had been absent from the real world in some way. Life and death, birth and violence had happened in the same day and for a short time my world felt turned around because I wasn’t instantly connected.
In our old home our computer sat in a much more central location than it now does. My wife was often telling me to get off that thing and be present with her and the kids. It was true that sometimes I did drift off into checking news, blogs, Facebook, email, etc… For the past eight days, online life seems to have diminished. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Even after only a couple days with less Internet, I feel myself needing to be on there less. Technology is a gift from God. It can be used for connecting, sharing, learning; even some of my ministry takes place online. But like all of God’s gifts – sex, money, knowledge… – it can be abused. May we all find balance.