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Digital World vs. Here and Now

Good article today in the Washington Post about the way that people (mostly men) become so obessed with their smartphones that they ignore the obvious reality of the physical world they live in — including their wives and kids.

The reporter tells stories of men checking their phones while they’re bathing their kids, at dance recitals, walking through the mall and even (help us all) having sex.

Why does this happen? Information is king, and we no longer have to wait for it. The thrill of what piece of news might show up next feeds the cycle — it’s rewarding to find out new stuff, so we keep checking for more, over and over, to our detriment:

The complication is that we devalue delayed rewards — the feeling, for instance, of looking back on lovely moments with family — in favor of the immediacy of the new. In this case, it’s data. It makes us high.

The issue is coming up in couples’ counseling more and more as well — a spouse feeling neglected, as if her husband finds everyone else more important than her. There’s no more time to sit, to enjoy silence, to let moments breathe.

I feel the pull, even though I don’t have a smartphone. I’m at a computer all day at work, so it’s easy to click over to Twitter or Facebook for a quick check. I get home and get away from it, but still find myself wanting to just check for a minute, even when I’m playing with my kids.

Weekends are a nice break sometimes, but it’s still almost always there, in the back of my head, the constant refrain — “what’s the latest, what’s going on, what am I missing?”

As valuable as electronic devices can be, as much as I love Twitter — there are more important things. Our kids’ faces when we come in the door. Quiet moments with our wives. Time in God’s word. Time to think, breathe, be.

Here and now (and eternity) are more important than an ethereal digital universe that sucks us into its ever-widening maw.

(And yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’m posting this on Facebook …)

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