It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us… (Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities)
If I didn’t know better, my thesbian self would think Charles was talking about today, specifically technology. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love that we can Skype my kids who are living life far away. I love that I can stay connected to so many friends via Facebook. I love that, at the touch of an on button, we have a plethora of information at our fingertips. These are the best of times.
However there’s always a ying to the yang….the worst of times. While there may be more, I chose the following five problems I see with technology, particularly with social media.
It can be time consuming…
I did it again. I “ran out of time” to write. Actually, I ran out of time before I even opened up a word document to start. How does one do this? One takes a “quick look” at Facebook and the next thing you know it’s an hour (or two) later and I have to get the rest of my day started. Because it’s not just Facebook anymore….there’s Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to name a few.
That doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with every once in awhile that turns into more often than not that becomes every day. It’s that easy really. Time is a precious commodity and it flies faster the older I get. The good news is I can pilot those minutes and steer them to do good things, wise things, helpful things, encouraging things and not waste them scrolling through other people’s lives.
Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves. (Lord Chesterfield)
It can be deceptive…
Picture me this: you are at dinner for a GNO (girls night out for those of you from my generation or above…smile) you are now on your 16th group selfie because everyone wants to get their best side or best smile or whatever. Your face hurts from trying hard to smile and give the illusion that this is so much fun!! Dinner comes and as you pick up your fork because you are ravished from all the picture taking, someone grabs your arm and stops you because oh my gosh that looks amazing. Let me take a picture and post it!
By the end of the night no real conversation took place (too much hair fussing, lip gloss applying and filter choosing for that), there was no real catching up and my dinner was cold. Do people really give a rats behind if my best side was showing or what my food looked like?
Or there’s this one: you get picked up by a couple of gf’s because there’s been a bit of a rift between you and it needs ironed out so you head to the nearest restaurant/bar to talk. Instead, selfies ensued with a picture upload that looks like you’re having a beer and a blast instead of a very hard conversation. (On a side note: there was some concern about which picture to post due to the fact that I did not lean in properly or look like I was having much fun…sigh…because I wasn’t…)
I sure sound like I’m grumpy and old. I certainly don’t mean to but must we document every single little thing and make it look like it’s the most amazing thing?
I’m guilty too.
You see we live in an age where I want you to see this:
And not this:
I want to give the illusion that everything is wonderful and beautiful and weed free. In reality it’s not. This doesn’t mean I want to hear about all your business or for you to hear all about mine but that’s a story for another day.
Go have dinner, be with your friends, laugh, cry, cut up, catch up, be real and keep your dang phone in your purse. I’ll do the same.
It can enslave us…
Ding means emails.
Buzz means text message.
A certain ringtone means a Facebook notification.
Turn down the sound, the lights flash or the table vibrates.
Light blue is email or text message.
Darker blue is Facebook.
Green means a message.
Why do I often feel the need to respond immediately to see who’s emailing me (it could be a publisher dying to publish my works!), texting me, messaging me? How many times have I stopped whatever it was I doing, even a conversation I was having, to check my phone?!?
It got to be out of control! Anything that is out of control has control over you for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2Peter 2:19) I need(ed) to rein it in. Big time.
In today’s technology age we are on and available 24/7. There is no down time for our brains. In her book Your Brain on Nature, Dr. Eva M. Selhub writes, Overstimulation breeds fatigue in an immediate way by taxing the brain and indirectly by reducing sleep quantity and quality.
We are exhausted and don’t know why.
She goes on to say, Although not official diagnoses yet, “Internet addiction” and “digital-device addiction” are terms batted around by the medical community. Currently 42% of Americans flat-out agree with the statement that they “cannot live without” their mobile phone, and more than half of adults also state that both they and their kids spend too much time online.
I’d say we have a problem. So what can we do? I’m not sure of all the answers but here are a couple of simple things:
~ leave your phone in another room at night when you’re sleeping.
~ don’t have all the social media apps on your phone. I took Facebook off of mine which makes it harder for me to access.
~ limit your time/designate a time to check emails, social media etc.
~ go outside, take a walk, breathe in fresh air, be still, work in the dirt, volunteer
It can keep you from real life and real conversations…
Texting had just become a thing when my older girls were in high school. At first it was a great way to keep in contact with their friends. Until it wasn’t. I began to notice that even when they had friends over for dinner or a sleepover everyone was on their phones “conversing” with other people and missing out on face to face conversations with those they were actually sitting with. And don’t ever have a hard conversation over text. No breaking up with a boy. No arguing with your friends.
It’s only gotten worse. Don’t allow texting, Facebook messaging to be the only form of communication. Get together with your friends, put your phones away and be in the moment with each other. You can’t give a much-needed hug over text or have that hard conversation and truly hear someone’s heart and feelings through typed out words.
It can be like liquid courage…
I am appalled at some of the ballsy things people say on social media. I know I sound like Dayna Carver’s church lady (although she would never say ballsy or rats behind…) but for pity’s sake people do we forget these are human beings we are bashing?
Have we become so cold that we forget how are hard it is to keep a toddler in check at the zoo? Or that parents are grieving the loss of a son or daughter to a drug overdose? Or that it doesn’t matter rather a young man should or should not have gone to a foreign country…his parents are grieving his death.
Sit, not in judgment, but actually with a friend whose son just came out or whose daughter has ran away in rebellion and is now in the sex trafficking industry. Have a conversation with an actual addict who got hooked through prescription pain meds. Talk with a homeless man who has an education but made some poor choices and lost everything.
It changes your perspective.
We’ve become a people who would rather scroll through social media and give our liquid courage answers than connect with real people. We would rather spout off some black and white opinion than see people loved by and created in the image of God.
For the love of humanity, stop it!
I certainly went past my normal word count for this one. I guess I had a lot more to say than I originally thought. My initial intent was simply to say I need to take a TB…a technology break for the month of July to spend time with my family, rest my brain from being “always on” and writing without “running out of time.”
I won’t say I’ll never be on social media this month but sometimes you just need a break from overstimulation. I may check in occasionally. I will still be posting blogs throughout the month but can upload those from my blog site so there’s no need to jump on all the sites.
I’ll be reading about my brain on nature and studying the book of Galatians for a Bible study I’m writing. It will do me good to “get away” for a bit. Maybe you could use a bit of a hiatus too? (Hopefully not from me after reading this!) Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you!
Fiercely for YOU!