As a general rule, if something can be made more convenient, we opt for it. If there is a device to facilitate that convenience, we buy it. If there is a program to sustain that simplicity and shallowness of effort exerted on our part, then we call it productive, efficient and welcome. However, for all the convenience, our lives are no richer. Some say the quality of your life is impoverished by the very devices, programs and conveniences you have incorporated into daily routines.
In his work, Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions, Arthur Boers describes our tendency to confuse standard of living with wealth, to lose sight of the depth of life for the speed of it. Below are two passages from Boers, each followed by questions for reflection. After answering the questions, take a few moments to think through how your daily choices may actually detract from your depth of life and what might need to change in order to sow seeds of richness back into it.
We are all well advised to avoid handling conflicts by email. Issues requiring more than two paragraphs of explanation most likely should be dealt with in person. If annoyed or angry, do not respond for at least twenty-four hours. You might draft a written rejoinder, but do not finalize or deliver it. Once you write something, wait another twenty-four hours. (Since your “delayed” response may increase anxiety, consider sending a short acknowledgement that promises to respond when you have time to do so appropriately.) Extra time gives opportunity to gain perspective, perhaps even see how your response might be heard or read by someone else. It will also encourage you to pay attention to important matters that you may have missed in the sender’s email, to let go of aspects of the problem that you do not need to put on the record, and perhaps make room to be more gracious in how you deal with the provocation. You might also want a trusted friend or colleague to read what you write before you send it. (p. 115)
Do you notice a tendency in yourself to defer to typing rather than talking through tough conversations?
Are you more prone to boldness through text than in person? Whom does that care for more: you or the person you are trying to communicate with?
Our lives are increasingly shaped in ways that disconnect us. It is common for face-to-face conversations to be interrupted by cell phones. Such devices have a dominating and intrusive presence. One school where I taught restricted cell phone use to certain areas because people employing such devices—whether in halls, classrooms, or lounges—tend to speak with more volume than usual and thus dominate and even inhibit work, study, or conversations around them. Calls interrupt meals, hospitality, and meetings. We no longer see this as rude; gadgets are our default priority. (p. 127)
What about your technology habits devalues your conversations and relationships?
Are you more connected to people through the phone or across the table at mealtime?
Where are you spending time, energy and mental gifting on things that have little to no eternal consequence?
How can you spend that time with your spouse, children, biblical community or co-workers this week?