For the past 10 days we have not had internet at the house. Something happened with our cable or modem and thus interrupted the usual, continuous flow of wireless signals that keeps me and my computer connected to the outside world. After a few initial days of withdrawals and lamenting frustrations that I could not return emails from home or read my favorite blogs or peruse half.com for book deals, I actually started to like life without internet.
I started to like evenings without my computer. I started to like the freedom that comes from being able to say I’ll do it tomorrow, instead of feeling pressure to get everything done today. I started to like that my main form of communication with friends was not through some virtual wall, but through real life, face-to-face conversations. And I started to notice that during this Christmas season, one that often feels too busy and over scheduled, I have actually had more time to soak it up and enjoy it. Instead of dreading the stress and sometimes loneliness of Christmas, I have felt really, really thankful.
There have been nights with friends over for dinner and too many rounds of speed scrabble. Christmas music and red wine with my roommates. I remembered how much I like writing old fashioned letters and making little crafty projects. I got to enjoy fires in our fireplace. Serving dinner at the Rescue Mission. Christmas parties with friends. Lots of tea drinking and movie watching. I learned how to make tamales and was introduced to pozolé for the first time. And I even managed to crawl into bed a little bit earlier most nights.
Now, internet and computers and any type of life-enhancing-technological device for that matter are obviously not bad, but we’d be naive to dismiss the fact that they do change something. And despite all the hype about making our life easier and more efficient, I actually believe they do quite the opposite. The megabytes of information that are flashed before us and the instant gratification of texting a message in a 140 characters or less affect how we live and think and interact with each other. I am not some fanatic who is going to do away with my cell phone and computer and the convenience of modern technology. No, of course not…like you I enjoy it and use it daily. But I am coming to believe that many of the ways we interact relationally and even how we structure our daily lives is directly related to the technology that we consume.
I am sure scientists somewhere have done fascinating studies about how these things actually and measurably affect out physical, emotional and spiritual health. But I haven’t done a lot of research on the subject yet. All I know is that growing up my dad always used to tell me, “When you say yes to something, you are by default saying no to something else.” And sometimes I wonder what do I or we, say no to because we’ve said yes to this high-speed digital age of convenience?