Do you ever wish we could turn back the clock to a simpler time when technology didn’t dictate our lives? It’s fairly predictable to hear people of my age (a still foolish 43) pine for those endless summer days when we ran free from the tyranny of the overflowing inbox. “We didn’t need Facebook when we had real friends”, we cry, “and don’t get us started on the needy, involuntary status sharing of the digital natives. What do they know about real life?!”
Well, it seems to me that they know what we have taught them. Or rather, they don’t know, because we have not taught them.
I was emptying my spam folder last week. It’s not so different from clearing the shower plug hole really. You take a deep breath to quell the rising nausea, grab a handful of muck and throw it in the bin with a grateful shudder. Cleanliness restored. Amongst the predictable flow of detritus was a subject line that caught my eye.
Are you tired of sleeping alone, Admin?
Like all foolish truth it made me laugh and then brought me up short. That one question seems to encapsulate the contemporary human condition in 38 characters (and before you try and tweet it, let’s just pull it apart for a minute).
The question strikes at the heart of contemporary isolation, offering the false hope of superficial self-improvement, and confirming our suspicion that we are not truly known. Tired of sleeping alone, or just tired of how your life has turned out? Tired of the lost dream of the happy ever after and the false promises of consumerism? Want to do something about it? Just click here and you’ll feel better…for a bit. Want to change your life? Just try harder. Who do you think you are? You’re just “Admin”. We don’t really care about you or know anything about your heart, your mind, your inner being. See what I mean? 38 characters that say an awful lot more.
I’m not a Luddite. Technological innovation has opened up amazing opportunities and has changed how we communicate and think forever. And there’s no going back, however we might wish to in our rosiest-tinted moments. But the truth is that the dissatisfaction we feel about how life has turned out simply points out the fact that we are created to experience a fullness of life that cannot be bought, worked for or furtively found in the dark places of our most self-centred fantasies. Rather, it’s a gift. A grace-infused, unearned restoration of meaning and purpose that comes from the one who knows us, really knows us, by name, by heart, by soul.
Michael Frost uses the word “excarnation” to describe the way many of us in the West are choosing to live. In an interview with Christianity Today last year, he stated:
My concern is that many people don’t think hard enough about whether they like the way technology is shaping them, and in particular how it is shaping interpersonal relationships. We need to live a fully embodied existence, in community, and in place. Of course, having global connections is a wonderful aspect of 21st Century life, but if technology wrenches us out of a meaningful sense of embodiment, away from connection with neighbors, and out of the place in which we live, we lose something precious and important.
So my foolish challenge this week is to live incarnationally. To speak to people face to face. To spend time away from the screen. To breathe deeply and live fully. To allow myself to be truly known. To be more than Admin.