The voices have become a chorus. We are all moving too fast. Social media and texting can damage your soul—they work against human design rather than with it. As always, leaps in technology come with both advantages and unanticipated hazards, and the hazards of our e-world are now becoming common knowledge.
Let me add my experience from the last few weeks.
- I have been in restaurants where more than 30% of diners were on their smart phones.
- I finally had to ask my students to close their laptops and turn off their phones because they proved themselves unable to avoid social media and texting during class time.
- I considered stealing my wife’s computer to assess her “need” for Facebook (this after I begged her for years to get on Facebook so I could enjoy some of its advantages through her).
- I was told that “Princeton students don’t read anymore.”
- I have heard pleas from various groups for a one-day-a-week fast from technology.
- I have come across articles and books that identify our withered emotional conditions due to technology.
Get ready for a backlash—a surge in longer dinners with friends, tech-free small groups, and a general break out of a pent-up desire for human fellowship. Get ready for a retro movement back to slow-paced relationships. The pendulum is already swinging toward something more in sync with our humanity. But it will test us, because real face-to-face relationships can be very hard.
Look for church retreats with fewer activities, off the grid, and with time built in for journaling. (It makes me hope that these will, at first, be very short retreats. Being alone without technology will really be a challenge.)
Meanwhile, we, who know the Triune God and have access to the reasons behind our relationality, have guidance on how to move more deeply into each other’s lives. The Spirit, who makes relationships doable, can set the pace.
Why mention “slow counsel”? Because I recently witnessed it. I know and love a high-powered businessman who wants immediate answers to his problems. He wants an even-keeled emotional life and words that will make his marriage “peaceful,” which means he wants his wife to stop bugging him and make his life easier. And, of course, he wants these things now, which means that he is always angry with somebody. He usually lives like a hollow, desperate man who is deaf to wisdom.
But he recently discovered that the Kingdom of God is just fine with slow. This means that he has a new vision to die to selfish desires today, then die to them tomorrow, and the next day. He can do this because he is now persuaded that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ, God himself is doing much, and there is not much better than learning to depend on him. He has caught a glimpse of slow sanctification, patience and endurance. In the process, his humanity has returned. An evidence of that humanity? He is no longer deaf to God and people. He now listens to others with enjoyment and compassion.
May he be part of something big and new (but slow).