If you have been following my Twitter stream over the last week you will have noticed how much I love the new book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh. I will be blogging about the book more at length in the near future, as well as posting an interview with Adam in the next few weeks.
But I wanted to post a pretty long section of the book that is found on pages 68-69.
Through a scene at a local movie theater, Adam really gets at the heart of our struggle to stay connected to one another, our ease with which we let our interior lives weaken, and how we can often let technology get in the way of our relationships and of being fully present to one another.
Ours is an overstimulated culture, and an insidious side effect is that our inner worlds are atrophying. As our world becomes more and more driven by external stimulation and our lifestyles mirror the dizzying speed of our technology, we focus outward at the expense of the inward. We take leaps and bounds in one direction but drift from another, which can have the effect of alienating us from ourselves, others and God.
My wife and I recently witnessed the disorienting nature of technology at a local movie theater. The next day, perhaps ironically, I recorded my reflections on my blog:
There were three people in the rows in front of us who had their cell phones open during the entire movie. They were text messaging and surfing the Internet and otherwise annoying people. As I saw those cell phone screens open during the movie, I observed that the people using them were not fully committed to being anywhere during those two hours. They were physically sitting in the theater, even sitting with others who accompanied them, but their minds and hearts were scattered all over the place. They were not fully present, in terms of their attention, to the visual and auditory experience in front of them, they were not fully present to their friends and family that they were sitting next to, and they were not geographically present to the people they were text messaging. They had a hand and foot in several different places that were disconnected, leaving them as some sort of radical amputees. They were everywhere and they were nowhere.
Aside from how piercingly bright a cell phone screen can be in a dark movie theater and how bizarre it is to text message during an intense and complex spy movie. I got to thinking about how handheld technology affects our sense of personal identity. So many people walk through their lives as ghosts, not fully present to anything, gliding through places and around people but not really seeing or experiencing or being seen or experienced.