Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Communication Dependencies

When I came home the other night, my sister met me at the door of our apartment with tears in her eyes, obviously distraught. She immediately implored the used of my cell phone, quickly explaining that hers was ‘locked up’ and had been for several hours, leaving her out of touch with the world.

While this may seem like a trivial situation, the main cause of her anxiety was this: she’d promised her boyfriend – who lives in the next city – that she would call when she got home … and it had been an hour since. She was worried that he was worried that she hadn’t made it safely. Turns out, that’s exactly what he was thinking and had been about to start a search party because it’s not typical of her to be out of reach.

I gave her my phone right away and asked to see hers in return. An iPhone 3, I messed around with it for a while before I was able to get it to power off and start up again. (If only I had magic fingers when I was the one experiencing the technical difficulties!) She was thankful and began the process of returning calls and answering text messages from worried friends who all wanted to know why she had ignored them for so long.

The whole scenario got me to thinking of the way people have become used to being in constant communication with one another. I’m just old enough to remember a world where you could go several hours before anyone even noticed you were gone. I remember being able to tell your mom that you’d see her later and then disappear outside until you could smell supper cooking.

In today's society, people are
in constant communication with one another.

But now, with texting, instant messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and the such, people get genuinely worried if you vanish for a little while from the social network scene. Of course, this is coming from the girl who still calls her parents at Point A and again when she arrives at Point B so they will know she made it without mishap.

I was 18 years old before I got a cell phone and that had been because I had gotten my first job in town; my family thought it would be a good idea in case I had car trouble while on the miles in between. And I was 20 before I began texting. My youngest sister is only 17 and has not even had her own line on my cellular plan for six months, yet she thumbs out upwards of 2500 messages each month, just chatting with friends – glad we decided to go with that unlimited text plan!

Have you noticed how big of a deal it is if you leave the house and forget your cell phone? For some people, it’s like a major crisis has occurred. Such was the case with my oldest brother, who is 16, when we left to do animal chores a few days ago. He was legitimately outraged because he’d forgotten his phone, although we were only gone a little while.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that we all have cell phones or that we have fun with friends via the internet. But wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world that wanted to be in constant contact with God? A place where knee-mail trumped email and when we left the house without our Bibles, we hurried back to get them before heading off to work.

I’ll leave you with these verses:

“The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin. If you are wise, you will keep quite. A good person’s words are like pure silver; a wicket person’s ideas are worthless. A good person’s words will benefit many people, but you can kill yourself with stupidity.” Proverbs 10:19-21 [Good News Translation]

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