I love the convenience of electronic devices. All of them, from the smart phone to the laptop to the Kindle, they connect us with events throughout the world. It seems a conflict then that in expanding our world they also shrink it. These devices limit our connections to humans and to the natural world. Think of all that we can do without leaving home or having live contact with another person. Participate in meetings and discussion groups. Download books by the thousands. Sofa-lize with friends through Facebook. Book hotels and airline tickets. I could go on and on.
Our devices make it oh so easy to become an island in a sea of humanity. We could rewrite the lyrics of the old Simon and Garfunkel classic, “I Am a Rock.”
I have my ebook
And my iTunes to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my eworld, safe within my earphones.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
A friend bothered by this trend decided to fight back. She lives in a bustling city of movers and shakers and began making an effort each day to connect with a stranger. Sometimes you get back more than you give. Here’s her story:
I pushed my way through the turnstile and rushed onto the Metro. All the seats were taken, so I grabbed an overhead hanging strap and hung on. Mentally, I urged the subway to get going. At the first stop a lanky young man strolled on and stood in place near me, his white Polo casually untucked over his soft baggy jeans. He wore the requisite book bag on his back and clutched a bouquet of hopeful daisies in one hand.
Ah, young love. I forgot my hurried state of mind for a moment and paid attention. I leaned toward the young man and with my wise-woman-of-the-world smile said, “They’re beautiful,” eyeing the bouquet in his hand. He merely smiled in agreement, displaying a faint light of excitement in his Sugar Baby brown eyes.
Then I retreated, having met my quota of human connections for the day. I pulled out my security blanket of choice, my iPod and connected with Norah Jones as she sang soulfully through my earbuds. Finally it was my stop. As I inched toward the door I made eye contact once again with my young man and smiled goodbye. Without a word, he pulled a single flower from his bouquet and gallantly presented it to me.
Startled and pleased I smiled all the way home.
What a great story. It’s all about balance. To succeed in today’s world, we have to be adaptable. We have to connect electronically. I love the ease that electronic devices bring into my work life as well as my personal life. But just as necessary is the need to invite some non-electronic space into our world. Real connections with real people. Real connections with yourself. And real connections with God’s world.