I'm still having that argument with myself about whether or not my reliance on technology has escalated to unhealthy proportions. I feel like I've been having this argument with myself a lot lately. Here's how it goes...
Compared to my family and most of the rest of American society, my dependence on technology is quite minimal. My cousin sends/receives 12,000 text messages per month, my immediate family watches more TV than I could ever imagine sitting still for, and I am far from being dependent on Facebook for survival. I laugh at advertisements geared toward the "technological generation", then laugh at myself because the laughter in my head makes me sound like an old lady (which I may very well be...more on that later). I try to use my car as little as possible, I haven't logged into my AOL Instant Messenger account in years, and I do not have, nor do I EVER want, an iPod.
On the other hand, I am on the computer more than I would like to be, mostly because of my summer boredom. I just bought a rather fancy phone with a QWERTY keyboard because it increases the speed of data-entry, and I use my PDA for all of my appointments, contacts, and some of my tasks. I would like to sell my crocheted things online, I sit here blogging, and email has become my primary mode of communication with my boyfriend since he's in Canada (with a bunch of malfunctioning technology).
So, what do I do? I think maybe it's about time for a technology fast. I'm writing specifically about electronic devices used for communication or entertainment. Could I go a day without my computer? A week without my cell phone? A month without watching movies?
Truly, at this point in my life I find this a tad unrealistic. First of all, I have gone almost two weeks without my cell phone, computer, PDA, and any sort of music player. That was over Spring Break when we were in Iowa, happily surrounded by nature and close community, with no need to communicate with the "outside world" (not to mention eight joyous years of Girl Scout Camp). I gave up Facebook for Lent two years ago and it was so freeing! I actually didn't want to go back. So I know that I can do these things within certain contexts. Let us note the specifics:
*Nature seems to be a key component. When I'm surrounded by the beauty of Creation it's all I can think about because I see, hear, smell, taste, and touch it everywhere I go.
*Community has also been an important factor in my successful detachments from technology. The people immediately around me have the same effect as Creation (um, because they're part of it?) and they draw me away from myself, from boredom, and from pride. The forming of close community is an art form that requires untold balance and patience that can only come from God. Why ignore that sort of challenge for loosely-bound, non-commital "community"?
*Food. Never underestimate the power of a good meal. A good meal, even and especially one prepared and eaten in silence, provides more satisfaction than any amount of time spent responding to endless emails. This category is included in the much larger category of Work.
*Last but most definitely not least, communion with God is critical for without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. We have no power. God is IT.
So what does this mean for you and I? How do we respond to the fact that our dependence on "social networking sites" (I think that phrase is funny because it sounds hoity-toity) is actually diminishing our ability to respond emotionally to stimuli--essentially, that we are losing our humanity? I want to be human! It seems like this means that I will have to find myself a place nestled in nature with a patiently persistent community where I can make and eat good food and worship God with my life and work. Hmmm...I have some ideas on how city life makes this nearly impossible, but they will have to wait until next time.