The internet is a fascinating place. There are so many people out there saying so many interesting things. There is so much going on that it is easy to feel like if you don’t constantly check things and contribute to the “conversation” that you are going to miss out on something. It was bad enough with email and made worse by facebook and twitter. In the meantime you miss out on a lot…the people who are in the room with you, priorities and responsibilities that are more important, relationships that need worked on, time studying, praying, and communing with God. The irony – Our fear of missing out makes us miss out on things that are far more important.
There are several ways to correct this. One could just go techneticism (technology meets asceticism) and drop the whole thing. I am seeing more and more people go on facebook fasts, dropping twitter and reconnecting and re-engaging with the world that has been around them the whole time…they just didn’t notice because they had their face glued to a screen. So the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. Sometimes that is exactly what is needed. Everyone is different and that is entirely appropriate. Or we/I could do a better job with two things: boundaries and balance with respect to time and attention. It is important that we take inventory of how we are using our time and where we are directing our attention. There is only so much attention to go around and it is a zero sum game. If you get your attention to one thing you are by default not giving it to another. Are there more important people or things who need our attention but fail to get it because we are placing it somewhere else?
Bottom line – This is a desire issue. Asceticism is about taming our desires. In reality it is more about redirecting our desires. Which do you desire more, a multitude of connections with distant people and events, or deep connections with the people you are in the presence of day in and day out? Our desires do need redirected toward things that are healthy to our souls and not the continuous chase for something new or fear we are going to miss out on the latest thing or not be a part of it. Were we ever a part of those things to begin with?
Have you wrestled with this? What have you decided? I am guessing you haven’t given up on blogs because here you are.
I think you need to link to a dictionary I learn a new word at least once a week just by reading your blogs! Thanks Matt. I showed my mother (who incidentally is a retired English teacher) your blog on Church of LDS as we got into a conversation in the car and she wondered aloud ‘whether evangelicals think Mormons are Christian’ – and she learned a few new words from THAT blog. Sparked her interest.
To now comment directly on your topic – I think one bad side affect I struggle with is to be in ‘scan’ mode when I should be in ‘full attention to detail’ mode….that the computer age has added to the overstimulation of senses so I just want snippets. I have chosen on purpose NOT to go ebook yet because I cherish thumbing through pages, getting a tangible sense of accomplishment for how far along I might be in a book…and most importantly to touch the page when reading the word of God. I like the idea I can write in the margin, underline, and in some part of my brain know that the verse I’m looking for is bottom lefthand side of the page near those highlighted spots….when trying to find a particular passage. I appreciate your comment on balance.
One Beth Moore study had us imagine for ourselves what the original lampstand looked like in the desert in that Holy place…and what the altar outside looked like. She had us draw them ourselves in a workbook. I still have those pictures in my head – the horns, the blossoms, the gold rings…..imagine. What will those streets of Gold look like? We will have eternity to drink it all in.
Our hearts are naturally hungry unless filled the Presence of God fed through faith. Until we can come to a place where our hearts are satisfied we will continue to feed on everything and contribute very little substance… that is why we as a people (modern age) are so easily distracted and spread thin. “When the Son of Man returns will He find faith on the earth”
I thoroughly enjoyed this post Matt! I’m adding techneticism to my dictionary. Starting each day praying for God to lead me by His Holy Spirit, down the specific path He has in mind for me, for that day — that has been the key for me.