When I was younger, I remember playing with my dolls on the porch of grandmother’s quaint home in the underdeveloped city of Ocala, Florida. Life was simpler then; at least that’s how I pictured it. There were less interruptions and more time with the people and the things that meant the most.
“Screened in” was a term we used to refer to the porch we sat on—now it seems to be our state of being. Have you ever stopped to really think about how much we stay connected to the outside world? I can almost guarantee that a text message or some other type of notification is probably diverting your attention even now. Let’s go ahead and state the obvious—you even have to look at a screen to read this very article. I am not reproaching media or technology by any means. I would even agree that there are very beneficial uses for it, but it is crazy to step back and realize how much things have changed.
When our elders were teenagers, there were never tragic stories of accidents due to texting and driving or rivalries caused by things said or done over the World Wide Web. There has, in certain areas, been a rise in “death by distraction.” We have become a generation of smart phones and dumb people.
It is evident that we now live in a social media crazed society. Myspace and Everyone’s Connected have been buried by new waves of sharing and connecting. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, SnapChat along with many other sites have captured our attention. We are constantly bombarded with information of what is happening and when it is happening. We have in some areas lost privacy in our lives.
It is rather ironic to me that we even call it social media. If you think about it, it has become anything but social. We open our apps and shut out the world. We have become merely slaves to this technology we have “mastered.”
Many people refer to their phones as something they couldn’t imagine living without. Perhaps there is more than one reason we call them cell phones—they confine us to their screens and keep our attention locked inside. It is high time we are released from the prison cell of our phones.
From the multiple screens around us, we are told how to live our lives. Media tells us how to dress, what to eat, what the latest and greatest gadgets are, and a plethora of other things we are encouraged to follow and do. The television set blares bad news, the computer screens overflow with gossip, and our cellular devices are constantly receiving text messages and phone calls. It is a constant, vicious cycle. We can do just about anything with the click of a button. Information is literally right at our fingertips. You can read books, watch movies, cash checks, and see people all the way across the world and so many other things.
There are millions of selfies posted on a daily basis, and it appears that people do things sometimes just to see what kind of response or confirmation they can get. Why do we feel this way? When did the shift come that convinced us we are not good enough if our “followers” do not affirm us? We live in a day of immediate answers and instant gratification. It should be so much more than that. “Give people your love; don’t just give them your like.”
There is a sign that overlooks the Grand Canyon that articulates this quite simply: “One minute: don’t read, don’t talk, no photos, just look and see.” I probably neglect to do this more than many people I know, but I have started to realize the importance of taking time while you are somewhere to simply be present. Enjoy the moment with the ones you are with. Be present in your conversations and activities with others.
People are hungry. They are hurting, but we don’t see them because we are too busy and “screened in.” We miss so many opportunities because we are chained to our electronics. Have you ever taken time to really look at the world around you? Stop looking down; look up. There is so much to see. People don’t interact the way they once did because the convenience of technology. Group messaging and other settings have made socializing, in ways, obsolete.
Many of us also wonder why we cannot seem to hear God in our lives. We become frustrated when we feel like He is ignoring us. Perhaps the volume of everything else in our lives is turned up far too loud. God is speaking, but we are simply too distracted to notice. I challenge you to turn off the world for a while. Read the Word. Write a letter. Just take some time to breathe and take it all in. Power off the things that consume your precious, temporary time so you can begin to connect to what really matters.
Rachel Thorne was born in Florida and has lived in many places throughout the United States. She is a graduate of Urshan College, formerly known as Gateway College of Evangelism. She wants to make a difference and change her world. Rachel is actively seeking the will of God for her life and is willing to do whatever He has for her.