Alone Together

Day’s Verse:
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:7 (but refer to the whole thing)

Hugging Ghost ShakersOne of the great things about this being my blog is that I can put up whatever I feel like. Today I want to explore some ideas raised by a book I’ve been reading. I don’t fully know what I think about this book — that is, I haven’t developed a strong stance one way or another on what the author talks about. But I’m going to talk through some thoughts and see where this goes.

The book is called Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, by Sherry Turkle. Google the title and you’ll get all sorts of interesting articles and discussions. Here I’m going to present some quotes, in order of appearance, that stood out for me. Perhaps taken all together, they’ll give insight into what I think. Click below the fold for the quotes. There’s a huge gap in page numbering because, after the introduction, the first half of the book explores the interactions between people and social robots, which is thought-provoking, but not my main interest at the moment.

As I think about the collection of ideas I’ve accumulated here, several things stand out: the teenager’s comment that if you answer a phone call, you might have to get in a conversation; the idea of going to the Internet for “another hit of what feels like connection”; and the idea that “we go online because we are busy but end up spending more time with technology and less time with each other.” Another hit of connection. Hmm.

I think this is, by and large, true. Smartphones are great for coordinating meetups or asking your husband to bring milk home. Facebook is good for seeing a shallow skimming of your “friends'” lives. But I keep returning to the idea that people are meant for depth in relationship. The love that God holds for us and wants us to share with each other is based on relationship much deeper than text messages and Facebook statuses; it’s built, brick by brick, over time, as you spend time one-on-one with others. My sense is that we are lonely, longing for connection, and, turning to social networks, receive information instead.

Here’s what I’m doing about it. I’m calling people. I’m setting up times to meet in person, one-on-one, to just spend time together. I’m writing notes to friends, on paper, and mailing them. I’m going to ask people to check their phones at the door when they come to visit so that our time isn’t interrupted with constant distractions. I’m making an effort to reach out to people in everyday life: The mailman, the checkout person at Safeway, the receptionist at my PT office, the stranger who sits in my booth at the bakery (that story another time). I’m cutting back on Facebook time, although not cutting it out entirely, because it is good for some things. I don’t think technology is bad, and I love what it can do at times. I’m just going to try to put it in its place: Below the people in my life. No machine should be more important than a human being.

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