Although I am also pulled into its conveniences, I am concerned about the dark side of the digital takeover. The revolutionary launching of the smartphone wires us 24/7, allowing us to communicate with people around the globe while still remaining local. It allows workaholics like me to work anywhere, at any time! In fact, you don’t have to mentally shift from your local tasks while traveling. People stay in touch with their local networks in the hotel room or conference room while away from home. Yes, I no longer have to stop at the gas station when I get lost with my GPS guiding me (although she often misdirects me).
With all these conveniences, I find myself nostalgic about those days with no internet and no smartphones. By now, you’d detect that I am a boomer. Yes, I am old enough to have memories of pre-internet era when I didn’t have to compete with the presence of a third party (smartphone) during a face to face meeting. The undivided face to face meeting has become a passé. Having a third party virtual reality present at all times has become the new norm! We are wired constantly and let virtual reality supersede the real reality. Shockingly, I found that many people sleep with their smartphones on by their bed side! It’s almost as if we all have surrendered our life to these handheld gadgets. Nevertheless, the virtual reality cannot replace real human encounters and real community. It seems like the more wired we become, the more alienated we feel.
During one of the most fulfilling ministries of five and a half years in Cerritos, my husband Paul and I had deep encounters during our weekly Friday night inductive bible studies. They often lasted until midnight, when the bible stories jumped out to real life stories. It was a divinely life transforming moment with no distractions. The tight-knit community of belonging still lives within my heart. Now that they all grew up and are married with children, they are scattered across Southern and Northern California. This community of belonging from the ‘90s has also become a virtual reality at best through Facebook. I am grateful for catching up with them on Facebook.