Thursday, June 27, 2013

The appropriate balance when it comes to texting and urinating

Recently, while visiting an establishment, I walked into the bathroom and saw a man texting while standing at a urinal.
Let me repeat that:  I walked into the bathroom and saw a man texting while standing at a urinal.  I’ll pause for a moment just to let that visual sink in.
Seriously? Is this what it has come to? Have our social media gadgets become so glued to our bodies that we cannot put them down for a minute while we take care of our normal bodily functions?
I guess our minds are becoming so desperate for electronic interaction that we cannot even put our cell phones aside for the basics of life.
However, maybe I should give that person the benefit of the doubt. I did not know him, so maybe he is a very important man. Even though he only looked old enough to be just out of college, his input on important matters might be so significant that even the slightest delay in responding to people could upset his entire world.
Of course, it is hard to picture President Obama texting while urinating. After all, of all the important people in our country, most people consider the president to be the most important of all. However, I cannot really picture the president texting the president of Russia during such a private moment.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I enjoy certain aspects of social media. I occasionally text people. I use Facebook and am on there several times a week. Still, our dependence on this type of technology is becoming ridiculous and showing signs of addiction.
The whole point of social media is to help people connect, but often it keeps us from interacting with people right in front of us. Frequently, I see people wandering in stores and on sidewalks with their faces buried in their smart phone of choice. With their intense focus, they look like walking zombies. All the while, they are ignoring people around them and not making eye contact with them.
We see this technological dependence reveal itself in the most unusual ways. For example, the church bulletin we have at my church states each week: “Please turn your cell phone off or mute it!”
Though this seems like an obvious request that really should not have to be made, it is truly necessary. This is because many of us think our lives have become so important that we cannot spend an hour focusing on God without having our lifeline to the world at our fingertips.
Seriously, when did we all become so important? I am not talking about those accidental times when we forget to turn our phone off and it rings at an embarrassing time. I am writing about the need to have open access to everybody and everything all the time.
I taught a Sunday school class for several years, and some weeks, I would notice people with their phones out and glancing at it for messages (or whatever). I never said anything about it, but looking back at it, maybe I should have. If we are trying to focus on too many things, we really are not focusing on anything at all.
Unfortunately, I do not see this getting any better in the near future. Smart phones (and similar gadgets) guarantee an acceleration in the self-absorption factor we have in our culture.
I am not saying these tools are bad, but like most things in life, we have to strike a proper balance when it comes to their role. Right now, we are having trouble maintaining that balance. Hopefully, we will try to resolve this issue, but I am not so sure.

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