I'm working on a lay service on technology. The specific topic I'm going to be speaking on is the ways technology brings us together and connects us. Yes, I know some people isolate themselves with technology*. I plan to sort of address that, yet I have been repeatedly struck by how the computer and the cell phone have been two of the most revolutionary technologies in recent memory and they are both fundamentally about bringing people together.
When I was a kid, the Chalicemom casually mentioned that once you got out of high school, you pretty much never saw your high school friends again. The inconvenience of mail and the cost of long distance made that simply the way things were when she was a young adult. By the time I was in high school, everybody had e-mail and I did keep in touch with a fair number of people. Now Facebook has brought me back in touch with even more of them. And calling plans abound where you pay a flat amount per month and can use all the long distance you want. How has it changed us that losing people when we move is now a choice we make rather than a reality we are forced to face?
A good friend of mine is in contact with his Mom every single day on Yahoo messenger. He keeps it on pretty much all day and she can message him, one assumes, anytime she needs something or even if she's just lonely. (Though I'm sure he says "can't chat now Mom, gotta work" if she messages at a bad time.) He genuinely thinks it's great to be in such constant contact with his mother. That said, not all of us would be unreservedly delighted to be in that situation.
How about being able to find people who believe or enjoy the same things you do with a few keystrokes on google? How about being able to blog and kick ideas around just as I'm doing here? What's the personal and spiritual upshot of all of this connection?
Mostly, I think it's all about having more choices and I think it's great.
But I'm still thinking through this stuff and fleshing it out.
Any ideas? Any questions for me on these topics? Any thoughts on the spiritual dimension of these connections?
*I tend to think those folks would isolate themselves anyway, just another way, though. The world didn't lack for isolated people before technology, after all. If anything, it's better for isolated folks to be having suboptimal contact on the internet than to be reading books or working on model trains or something all day and have none at all.