I still remember standing in Circular Quay, with thousands of people in the early hours of the 24th September 1993. It was a moment I wanted to experience with others. Our eyes were glued to the large screen, onto which walked an elderly gent who said the words we all wanted to hear, “the winner is Sydney”. Juan Antonio Samaranch had announced that Sydney would be the host of the 2000 Olympics. The response of the crowd was to turn to one another, high five, hug, and cheer. We were in this moment together.
I wonder how that scene would play out today? I suspect many would immediately lower their heads, send a text, instagram a photo, or send a post on Facebook. In sharing the moment with the world wide web, maybe we would lose the moment with those around us.
We live in a world where we are tethered to our electronic gadgets. For many it seems there is a desire to unplug from our technology and yet an inability to do so. Research conducted by Common Sense Media in 2012 revealed 43 percent of teens wish they could unplug, and about half, 49 percent, said their favourite way to communicate is face to face.
There is a yearning to connect with living breathing human beings and break away from the tyranny of technology.
Michael Frost, in his book, Incarnate writes, “I think the church can be an alternative and the antidote to the excarnational impulses in society today. Rather than mirroring these impulses and tendencies, the Christian community could reveal to a world around us what a truly earthed, communal, relational, embodied experience of life can be like.”
Whilst it is an overstatement to say that all technology is bad, perhaps Frost is right and we should be the alternative to a disembodied experience of life, by providing face to face, physical, and relational experiences. Such a connection I would argue reminds someone that we are interested in them, and their story, not just the highlights reel of their life posted on the internet. It is giving someone the gift of time and a listening ear.
Who could you take out for a coffee this week? Go for a walk with? Listen to? To whom can you be the alternative to a disembodied and disconnected experience of life?