“I cannot hear because I hear everything. I cannot see
because I see everything. I cannot feel because I feel everything.”
I have a confession to make…I am a tech junkie. It is a realization I have only recently owned up to. It crept up on me slowly, like a silent fog weaving its way into my life, my home and my routine. I am married to a tech-genius, if you will, so I find out about new tech stuff and even own it – sometimes years before the general public. (ie: we had an Apple TV before I had even heard of such a thing and got a Roku several years ago, when I am pretty sure our friends thought we were crazy for dropping cable.) I’m a quick learner so I’ve always been pretty tech savvy and that doesn’t help. My husband and I are totally addicted to technology and I have noticed that it has gotten worse over the years. Even while writing this, I got exasperated because my daughters dance studio no longer has public wi-fi and I couldn’t finish my post when I wanted to. Oh, the horror and inconvenience!
I was at a Derek Webb concert last weekend where he played his new album, “Ctrl,” in its entirety and explained the meaning behind it. By the way, go get it if you haven’t yet. It’s brilliant. He wrote a fictional short story to go along with the album. You can read it here: Ctrl Story
Basically the idea behind the album comes down to this: By the time we realize how much technology has stolen from us, will it be too late? Webb asks some thought-provoking questions. Are all these technological advances worth what it is costing us in the long run? We are blissfully innocent of the consequences now but in several years, in that moment of regret, will it be too late to un-tether ourselves from technology’s enticing grip?
Webb is a self-professed tech addict but he suggests that before it’s too late society needs to recognize the danger of technology becoming “invisible.” He believes there will come a day when we won’t be able to distinguish between technology and reality. Am I the only one who feels like my iPhone is becoming an extension of my body? If I don’t have my phone on me, I feel naked and lost. I feel disconnected from life if I’m not constantly checking my phone or my computer. I think it’s very obvious that this “technological invisibility” is already happening.
Our phone has disappeared into our hands and our lives. It’s simply a part of who we are. That is terrifying if you think about it. Our identity is being shaped by a piece of plastic and metal, with a tiny screen that we stare into all day long. With Facebook, we have been handed a way to “control” our friendships. We can “add” and “delete” friends based on what we see through a distorted lens. We can change how others perceive us by manipulating the pictures we post or don’t post, the status we write or what we “like” and don’t “like.” Our way of thinking has altered with Facebook and Twitter alone.
I have heard Webb say that “technology has become an unnecessary prosthetic we use to touch each other.” This visual cut me to the bone. I am guilty of using Facebook as a way of reaching out to someone instead of taking the time to make a call or talk to them in person. I’ve seen the damage this does to friendships first-hand. It’s tempting for me as an introvert because it’s easier and streamlined. Relationships take work. They are messy and hard. It’s easier to retreat into technology and become something of a wallflower in my friendships. Regrettably, I am also guilty of not engaging with my girls at times because the phone or my computer is creating a wall between us. I tell them with my blank eyes and with my unfeeling replies – “uh-huh, that’s great sweetie” that technology is more important than they are. Technology is like a magnet. It draws me in, sucks me down deep and doesn’t let go. What will happen when that prosthetic becomes the norm? Will our society be content with fake community instead of real relationships? E-mails and texts instead of real conversations? “Sexting” and “cyber-sex” instead of real touch and meaningful relationships? I think this is already culturally accepted. How much power are we giving to these devices that are small enough to fit into our pockets? How much of our self-worth is tied to a Facebook or Twitter account? Do we have any control left?
These words from the song “Can’t Sleep” struck a nerve.
“I can’t sleep
I am overwhelmed with grief
every time I wake
that I must face the thief
who takes away my face
the place where I exist
the real me not a fake
my hands on the controls
till the moment I awake
the robbery takes place
and everything I am
all goes up in flames.”
Webb reiterated from the stage that he definitely isn’t anti-technology. It is a cautious reminder. To me, this album was a warning in flashing neon lights to remember that this quasi “connection” technology provides shouldn’t replace the real connections and the more important things in our lives. There are ways to keep a healthy balance in our love affair with technology before it overtakes us. One way he suggests doing this is to put guard rails on technology and leave “sacred spaces” in our lives where technology is absent. I love how that sounds. One of these days, the “On/Off” switch might be hard to find, or even non-existent. We need to locate it now before it’s too late. It’s time to re-evaluate the role technology plays in our lives, change our patterns, take a step back and re-focus. We can take back control but first we need to acknowledge there is something wrong and that it’s only getting worse.
On the way home from the concert, my husband and I decided we needed to take action – even if it is just a small step. We set a time everyday when the phones and computers will be put away and turned off. We promised to be more aware of how much time we are giving over to this beast that eats up hours so quickly. We will put the phone down and give eye contact when we are talking to each other and our girls. We are in the process of setting up some guard rails and in return, we are re-gaining control.
I am desperate for some sacred spaces in my life. Are you?
Click here to listen to one of the songs off of the new “Ctrl” album—–> Derek Webb – Real Ghost
a right mind
things you can become nostalgic for
things I feel I’ve never felt before
I stood the ledge
took the leap
I wasn’t sure
was I asleep
it felt so real but not as real as this
now all my questions have found their answer here
a soft touch
a deep cut
things that can restore your sanity
a real ghost
things I never dreamed that I could be
I closed my eyes
I felt no pain
I wished I could be born again
to my surprise I woke to find it done