The Power of Being THERE- What Our Tech Habits Say About Our Ability to Really Connect

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

I came across an article today from former pastor, and now family/marriage therapist Rhett Smith, while I was surfing the FYI website.  After reading it…and letting it sink in…then re-reading it and allow Holy Spirit to speak to me…well I knew I needed to pass it along to all of you! 

Smith’s article, Maintaining Relational Presence in a Technological World, really caused me to pause and reflect on how I allow the technological world to shape who I am.  Even as I write this it’s 10:35pm, my wife is in bed with our sick son, and I’ve already spent roughly 6 hours on the laptop today (2 of which was watching the Lakers beat the Timberwolves…not that that’s really an accomplishment!).  I remember the day I came home this past fall and gathered the kids to tell them; “daddy won’t be working at the church anymore after this weekend“, and their second response was; “does that mean you won’t have to spend so much time on the laptop, and you can play with us more?”  WOW…out of the mouths of babes!  There’s some great action points Smith refers to that we can engage our families with in gauging our technological consumption…and how much of an influence it has on us. 

Smith draws from his own conviction of allowing technology to remove him from being THERE…to just being present in relationships.  You know what I’m talking about…you’re out for coffee with someone, and they spend as much time (or more) texting their friends, than they do engaging in conversation and relationship with you.  It tells the other person that you’re present with them…in the same room/area of space…but that you’re not really ‘there’ with them (engaged, attentive and plugged in).  I think technology is great…I mean we are living in the midst of the most advanced technological times of our culture, and yet in the attempt to simplify our lives, I think the opposite has happened.  We’ve become trapped in a revolving door of technological beckoning that has hypnotized us into walking in circles while we keep our heads down and eyes/minds glued to the advancing carousel of gadgets.  

Think of it this way…it’s like we were designed to be operating @ 100 Mbps speed in our real-time relationships, but with the myriad of choices and ‘accessibility’ technology offers us, many of us are only operating @ around 12Mbps in real, authentic, organic relationships.  Sure we’re still ‘connected’ to the router of relationships…it’s just not functioning nearly as crisp, fluid and effective as it was designed and intended for.  This is what has transpired with social networking, texting and online communities.  It has replaced real-time, face-to-face relationships, with an artificial, superficial ‘user-friendly’ environment that caters to the desires of the individual…at the expense of reciprocal relationships.  My ‘social network’ is there for me when I need it…and when I no longer need it, or it no longer fulfills what I’m looking for…I can ‘unsubscribe’, ‘sign out’, or go ‘dormant’ and look for another ‘network’ to give me what I want, when I want it.  Is that even close to the kind of community Jesus calls us to?  Does that remotely resemble the kind of community Acts 2:42-47 portrays…which Christians and theologians often paint as the picture of health and example for churches to model?

So enjoy this article, but I also hope, like me, you’ll be challenged to pause and reflect on your own use of technology, and the influence it may have on you.  May we all enjoy the benefits advanced technology has given us, but not at the expense of really engaging in community and authentic relationships.  Let us not settle for simply being ‘present‘, but to always strive being ‘THERE‘ for, and with one another as our culture moves ahead for His Kingdom sake!


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