Friday, August 25, 2006

Cell Phone Theology

Over at Meanderings there is a blog about Cell Phone Theology. It is worth a read. Here is some of what he has to say; I recently read about a provocative cell phone advertisement that I haven't actually seen. I don't watch many advertisements on television, but I understand that the ad shows a cell phone client walking about with a crowd of his friends always accompanying him. No matter what happens during the day, there are always friends there to aid and support, and even friends dropping out of the sky to be there in difficult moments. The ad concludes, "You are not alone."One of the striking new features of life in recent years is the constant sight of people with cell phones at their ears. (He is talking about the verizon's commercial.)

ABC News ran a recent story on television about people who were addicted to their Blackberry's. One man admitted to answering email at 2 a.m., and another confessed to processing email during dinner with his wife. This constant connectedness can become an addiction. I think the most insightful aspect of this new phenomenon is that advertisement's conclusion, "You are not alone." While a sense of community and the support of friends are important at times, it seems to me that people are almost afraid of being alone anymore. The idea of walking the streets with only our own thoughts to occupy our mind seems out-dated. We can't be really cool if we are alone with ourselves.
But I want to advocate on behalf of being alone. I think we are over-connected, and need to learn to practice solitude. Seventeenth-century writer James Howell, put it simply, “Some are wise, and some are otherwise.” I suspect those constantly talking into a cell phone are otherwise.


I think there are two or more ways to look at this. I suggest we are not connected when on the cell phone or using the blackberry. When I see people at lunch with another person, and one of them are talking away on the cell phone while the other is sitting there alone, there is not a connection.When people are walking down the street or driving while talking on their cell phones, they are not connected. By this I mean that connected means attached, united, bonded. I don't see how their can be an attachment over a cell phone or blackberry, if anything it gives a false sense of being connected. But if we say the person is connected then what are they connected to or to whom? Are they connected to their cell phone or to the person on the other end or to themselves? Perhaps they have a false sense of being connected to themselves and the other person, and the cellphone or blackberry? Perhaps they then are connected to the wrong thing or wrong person. Most addictions are a connection to the wrong thing trying to fill an emptiness, loneliness, pain or insecurity. And most of the connections are never real they only give the sense of being real.

ABC's News article on "Crackberry" addiction compares it to drug addiction. To make time for the gadgets, some users will "give up time with family," Rutgers University School of Business Gayle Porter said. "They'll give up getting together with friends. They'll give up taking care of themselves, getting enough sleep — things like that."

The question comes back to what am I connected to or to whom? Am I connected to God? Am I connected to my friend and family? Am I connected to myself. And lest you think I am judging those addicted to their cellphones or blackberries, I am not. I cannot, for I deal with my own addiction to food, sweets, compulsive overeating, and those surely don't connect me to God, friends, family or myself.

2 comments:

carmen said...

abi, i think you hit on something here. as i was reading, the thing i kept thinking is exactly as you stated it later: "a connection to the wrong thing trying to fill an emptiness, loneliness, pain or insecurity. And most of the connections are never real they only give the sense of being real." why don't people want to be alone? because this desire to know we aren't alone, at it's most realest/bottom level, is a desirie that can only be filled by God. thanks for the post. blessings.

Marty said...

Abi,
I have the ability to "remote" into my work pc as well as my partner's pc in Houston TX. When I first started doing this, I did it at all times, night and day. Nowadays, however, I refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary as I have found that unitilizing technology for all that its worth robs me of the precious time I have for family and self.

Just because we "can" doesn't mean we should. That applies to cell phones, blackberries, and all the rest. To a sad degree, we make Gods of technoligies, rather than utilize them in a way that it brings glory to God. You can call someone in an instant if there is a need for ministering....but one shouldn't let that capability be abused to call about the miniscule, unpertinent matters. I remember when having a beeper meant you were someone important, who couldn't be more than a few moments away from rendering aid in an emergency. Nowadays, that "connectivity" is considered obsolete and replaced with a nearly co-dependent need to have someone available to one's every whim.
I say, cell phones off at church, off at dinner, off when in prayer...off until needed.
Thanks for the post...it hits home in this very modern day and age.
Marty