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.