If you have been tracking with me from the beginning of this series of daily reflections on everyday life in a technological age, you know that, so far, we have explored attention, time, and knowledge. We have explored how our technological devices impact all three of those dimensions of our lives. As indicated yesterday, we are now turning to the experience of connectivity--the way our devices connect us to one another and how that impacts what it means to be connected and the meaning of connection itself.. I think this dimension of technologically mediated reality is perhaps the most significant of all we have explored so far.
We are most likely to be distracted by a communication from someone else. We are likely to allow whatever moment we are in to be interrupted because we are receiving some form of communication from someone. It is our love of connection that is so captivating of our attention. As much as we may find it hard to turn off the news-feed, it is much harder to ignore the flow of communications (including news) coming to us from SOMEONE. It is the steady feed of PERSONAL knowledge and information that captures our attention and blurs our sense of time and place.
You may have heard of Sherry Turkle--Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. Her research on how communication and information technologies are shaping our lives has been interesting to follow. You can get a sense for the trajectory of her thought from the titles of her books, in order of publication: The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, (1994); Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, (1997); Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, (2012); and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, (2016). In the closing pages of her latest book she writes, "The moment is right. We had a love affair with a technology that seemed magical. But like great magic, it worked by commanding our attention and not letting us see anything but what the magician wanted us to see. Now we are ready to reclaim our attention--for solitude, for friendship, for society....to remember who we are--creatures of history, of deep psychology, of complex relationships. Of conversations artless, risky, and face-to-face."
At the heart of Christian spirituality is what we call fellowship, communion, community--the Greek word is "koinonia." At the heart of so much of what we do as a Christian community is to create occasions for connecting in time and space...face-to-face. That impulse is not incidental to the life of faith. (OOPS....I had more to write...but just this minute I received a communication that reminded me of a face-to-face meeting I had scheduled for right now!! Yikes! I must run. More to come in the coming days on this.....)