The topic of “cell phones” hits a nerve. Just this week, a revealing article, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” by Sherry Turkle caught my eye. It revolves around how mobile internet devices impact solitude, conversation, and young adults in ways that might surprise us.
Do you know and love a person whose life revolves around his/her phone? Is this you. Read with care – and in prayer.
Time spent alone, unconnected, is no longer a welcome oasis for contemplation, but a nuisance, a problem, a crisis that must be solved or obliterated with the help of technology. We do this to our detriment. Times of solitude re-introduce us to ourselves. In segments of “quiet” we have time to imagine, dream, and listen to the stirrings of our hearts. When “connection” with others is merely the transmission of links and news, this world misses out on the expression of God He uniquely crafted into each of our hearts. Those we love are robbed of true gifts we have to offer.
How can we create a little space for contemplation? Fifteen quiet minutes is a good place to start. When driving alone, don’t jump to switch on the radio or talk to a friend. Washing dishes? Walking your dog? Folding clothes? Out for a run? Embrace the quiet. From these inner reserves, we will have more to share and a firmer grasp on how to listen well. Check out the next paragraph.
“Conversation is the most human and humanizing thing that we do,” says Turkle. The more we know ourselves (through times of contemplation), the more we become secure in our own thoughts and feelings. Security leads to empathetic listening – the ability to really hear what others have to say.
Sherry Turkle reminds us that “One start toward reclaiming (real life) conversation is to reclaim solitude. Some of the most crucial conversations you will ever have will be with yourself. Slow down sufficiently to make this possible.” Then, listen well. The research on empathetic listening and mobile devices is one worth noting. Read the article below to see the impact on kids (and empathetic listening) who attend a week at a “device-free” outdoor summer camp.
“Timothy D. Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, led a team that explored our capacity for solitude. Students were asked to sit in a chair and think, without a device or a book. They were told that they would have from 6-15 minutes alone and that the only rules were that they had to stay awake and not fall sleep. In one experiment, many student subjects opted to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit alone with their thoughts.”
One word comes to my mind — alarming. Not only is solitude unwelcomed, it is perceived as something painful and something to be resisted.
In Psalm 46:10 we are told, “Be still and know that I am God…” Can we in this day and age recognize God, in all His fullness, without interludes of quiet, solitude, stillness?
How much is our use of cell phones to blame?
What do you think?
Want to explore this more? Check out “do not disturb” apps for your cell phone, or dig into Sherry Turkle’s entire article from the New York Times at https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/opinion/sunday/stop-googling-lets-talk.html?_r=0
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