When was the last time you unplugged?
I saw a commercial the other day that evoked some strong emotions from the pit of my being, which I can’t usually say after watching a commercial. Ironically, I can’t recall which commercial it was, and several of those I’ve seen recently have had a similar impact on me. When did we become so wired that being wired would seem so normal?
The product was an incredible one, I’m sure; I remember thinking how convenient the service would be if I were X (oh yes, I remember now; but I still won’t tell you, because I don’t think there’s any need to rip on a product as cool as this). But it brought to the tip of my brain the one thought I’ve been avoiding for the last fifteen years as the internet/cell phone/totally-accessible-all-of-the-time-my-car-can-drive-itself-so-what’s-the-point-in-knowing-how-to-parallel-park age has exploded around me: We have created a world wherein we can totally detach from one another. Instead of being who we are, we create a persona–a virtual self–and it takes our place in education, in debate, in politics, in relationships. In almost every aspect of our lives, now, we are so connected that we can afford to disconnect.
Isn’t that strange?
An example: For several years, I’ve visited (sometimes regularly, sometimes not) a Christian chat room. It has been a blessing and a curse. One of the blessings is that I’ve made incredible friendships with some intelligent people who are interested in some of the same topics within Christianity that I am interested in. One of the curses, I’ve learned, is that it sometimes “feels” like community, so it has been easy for me to not commit to Christians in my face-to-face life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard folks in that chat room say they don’t go to church on Sunday; the chat room is their church. We are so connected that we disconnect.
I’m not saying this is true of everybody, or that it is true in every circumstance. I do think it is a growing phenomenon, however. I see it evolving even in my life–me, who hardly answers her cell phone (that’s right, everyone, I’ve confessed: I typically silence your calls; it’s not that I don’t like you [I do] and it’s not that I don’t want to talk [I do], but I really just hate being accessible all of the time [truly, I do]).
The past few days, I’ve been bombarded with a nasty stomach virus. I thought (and wished) it might kill me. It was quite honestly that bad. But it allowed me one incredible freedom: I unplugged. My phone was turned off. My music was turned off. My computer was turned off.
In spite of how awful it was, it was wonderful to be silent. It was wonderful to be alone. In a world that demands that we always connect, I’m just here today to challenge you to unplug for a day. Or two. Or, if you’re really brave, a week. Spend some time with pen and paper, rather than blogs and tweets (she says in her blog); read a book with a dustcover jacket (remember those?) instead of on your Kindle; turn off the television and talk with the people in your home; unplug your guitar and sing quietly just for the sake of intimacy with Christ. No amps; no apps; no you tube videos; no tweets; no IMs; no text messages. Just unplug. Turn it all off.
I think we need that silence once in awhile, to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the true things in life: Family, friends, faith, and most importantly, the Light that has come into the world.