But, then I remember sitting and watching one of the video tapes I had recorded of a birthday party for one of my children. Hmmm, where was I? I was nowhere to be seen in the entire production. Oh, yeah, that’s right, I was behind the camera trying to get the best angle and lighting… And, suddenly I felt very left out. Even though I had been present in the same room and even though I was viewing through the camera lens, I missed the entire thing. It was as if I was never even there and I was some stranger watching someone else's family have fun.
Eventually the newness of the video camera wore off and it became a chore and I was filming less and less. Though it was nice to go back and watch the tapes later and see how everyone had changed and get a nostalgic feeling of the past, it was very rare that I ever re-watched any of those tapes, and there were hundreds of them.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, here recently I began noticing a repeat of the past. This time however it is through different technology; smartphones and social media. The latest statistics show that Facebook has 1.35 billion users a month and 250 million of those users access it from their smartphone. The average Facebooker spends 15 hours and 33 minutes a month Facebooking.
I’m as guilty as anyone else of spending way too much time on social media; Facebook, Twitter, Blogger eats up a lot of my time, and I hate it. I do use it for good purposes; inviting people to church, uploading sermons, sharing Bible verses and spiritual thoughts, etc… but really none of it is necessary. While I have been able to get to know some great people and fellow pastors through it, the thousands of invites I have shared on Facebook and Twitter over the past 5 or 6 years has resulted in around 3 people actually deciding to come visit the church, and in fact, has opened me and my church up to heavy criticism over our worship style, our Bible convictions, our mission support, etc…
Another downside to this new technology is that for some reason we all feel it necessary to share every little detail of our lives. Things that we used to just enjoy as a family and make wonderful memories, are now clouded with trying to take the perfect "selfie" or to make sure we check in at that popular place so that everybody knows what we are doing, or our heads buried into our phones during our meals. All of this time we waste trying to be “social” we have become one of the least social societies in history. You have to admit it, except for your immediate family or your very closest friends you wouldn't have a single thing to do with anyone on your so-called “friends list” and probably wouldn't recognize them if you saw them out somewhere.
And, of course you always have a handful of "friends" that are so self-absorbed that they have to give minute by minute updates and selfies of their latest diet or work-out routine. "Look at my washboard abs,.." Or there is that "friend" that provides every detail of their nasty divorce or perceived wrong-doing that has been done to them. Probably the one that kills me the most is the needy person that skips from relationship to relationship posting every new love interest as if they finally met the love of their life, only to suddenly a week later delete all of their pictures and post how tragic their love life is. Sigh...
I realize this post may come off as mean spirited but it's not meant to be. I stand accused as much as anyone else of allowing it to penetrate my life. The very fact that I am writing this to share on social media is ironic. It just goes to show just how deeply technology has rooted itself into our lives. But, my desire is to be less “on-line” and more “in-line” with the real world. How to achieve the perfect balance is something I am still working on.