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Monday, July 25, 2016

Technology distractions divert attention to fellowship

Friday, May 20, 2011

Transparent toasters. Banana guards. Toilet seat lifters. Anti-theft coffee cups. Lucky us. We live in a world of conveniences, all intended to make our lives easier. Yet in spite of these time-savers, many of us remain frenzied with all the unchecked responsibilities on our relentless to-do-list. Our third-grader needs that poster board project finished ... yesterday ... and the church welcoming committee has guilted us into making a jillion decorated cookies for the spring festival. Terrific. As if that weren't enough, a neighbor dies and we're expected to attend the wake. What to do!

Well, a funeral home in California has the answer -- a drive-by showcase for the deceased. You read right. ABC morning news featured this latest time-saver. Instead of having to get out of your car to make that parking lot-to-viewing room trek, you simply drive through a long, enclosed breezeway, sort of like a glorified car wash --only, thank goodness, without the jet spray. Separating you from the deceased is a floor-to-ceiling glass through which you can view your loved one.

How you sign the card was not explained. Perhaps there's a bank-like window where you "deposit" your condolences. All I know is, I was really bothered by this attempt to make life easier. And it made me question: why is it that so many modern conveniences continue to push us a little further away from relationships? Is being up-close-and-personal existent only in "Leave It To Beaver" sequels? If so, perhaps it's time we adjust some behaviors and ask ourselves what's truly important.

I have students who function best in a video paradise, yet it is my job to teach them some communication skills. Tragically, since their parents haven't put the clamps on their children's after-school and weekend addictions, these teens are paralyzed at the thought of having an actual conversation with another human being. They live, up to this point, in an imaginary world where their pals are manipulated with a toggle. It's no wonder they almost hyperventilate the first time I have them actually dialogue with another student.

If you haven't witnessed that behavior first-hand, how many of you have dined with friends who text instead of conversing with you? Or ... instead of receiving a hand-written card or a phone call, you have received a quick email to express your friend's "Get Well" wishes. No more homemade cookies for the invalid. With a click of the internet finger we can order up (and have delivered) a lovely fruit bouquet instead.

Becoming a society focused on technology, we are becoming objects of mechanisms and gadgets, many which create barriers to true fellowship. I wonder what Jesus would say to us about all the distractions that are pulling us away from one-on-one time with those we encounter. I fail to believe that Mary would sit at Jesus' feet, only to shush Him when "American Idol" was on or a "How R U" text came from her friend. I can't see the apostles feeding the multitude, wearing iPod headsets, rapping along with their favorite stars as opposed to savoring this moment with their Master and those being discipled.

Making our lives easier does not involve doing more, faster. It involves prioritizing and simplifying. In this age of rapid technological advances, I frequently hear myself saying, "I've seen it all now." But I know I haven't. Something tells me we'll soon be able to have our car washed while attending that viewing. Just you wait.

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face