Week 15: Wholesome Longings,Technological Substitutions & Human-Centered Fulfillment
Weekly Digital Detox Reflections
Hello and welcome to The Endeavor. This is the 15th week of my ongoing digital detox reflections. If you are new here, first, welcome, and thank you for reading! Secondly, I will direct you here, here, or here to get a sense of what these weekly reflections are about. If you like what at you see make sure to subscribe and share The Endeavor with fellow readers you think would like to join our journey.
This past two weeks were much better! With some self-awareness and honesty, I was able to get back on track toward a life of more disciplined digital minimalism. The phone stayed in its proper place, and the screens remained off after 6 PM, and as always, this produced great results. I read more Wendell Berry, and even wrote by hand! That’s right, I used a pencil, some old-fashioned paper, and my hand to write. Sure it made for some double work as I later typed what I wrote, but saving work wasn’t the point. The point was to remind myself that writing can and probably should, at least sometimes, happen without digital technology. It may sound strange, but in a way, I felt more connected to what had been written. Somehow the work of holding the pencil and moving it across the page was satisfying. The work I had done was then tangible in a way it just isn’t when it’s on a screen. I won’t wax poetically about this too much, but it’s safe to say I’ll be writing by hand more often.
Where My Thoughts Have Been
The joy of knowing we are welcome and accepted, not for anything we may offer, but for simply being present. The great pleasure of giving time, encouragement, and praise to a friend who is celebrating an achievement or milestone. Elation expressed from mentor to mentee or parent to child, knowing their hard-earned wisdom is being passed on to someone on whom it will not be wasted. Feeling moved by beautiful writing, art, or music and telling everyone about it, knowing they will love it too. The warmth of gathering with loved ones over a home-cooked meal, sharing stories, laughing, crying, hugging, and bonding over things in common, understanding everyone gathered has the other’s back. These are the wholesome longings of our hearts.
It does not matter where one is from or what culture they were raised in. To be accepted, give and receive praise, share beautiful things, and be part of a community is something we all desire. It doesn’t matter how much money we do or do not have, for these are things money cannot buy. These are God-given longings that should not be ignored, nor should they be manipulated. Notice anything familiar?
Welcome and accepted, much like a friend request, follower, or subscriber. To give and receive praise, like a 👍🏼, ❤️, or positive comment on a particular post. Sharing beautiful things or things we like by sharing posts to our social media feeds, and sending links 🔗 to our friends via text, email, or direct messages. Or being part of a community, like a Facebook group, Twitter Chat, LinkedIn Group, or Google+ Groups. Can you see what I’m getting at?
The wholesome longings that you have are strong. They are strong because they are natural, and because in an extremely individualistic, materialistic, isolated, and increasingly lonely society, they have become more difficult to fulfill. The Industrial Revolution, at least the American one, came along and changed the way families lived and operated. Communal living became a thing for Immigrants or the poor, and the nuclear family (husband, wife and 2.5 children) became the new normal, turning once close family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) into extended family. Shortly thereafter the automobile came along and made moving in search of a “better life” easier than ever. It also made it easier for friends and families to move away from each other. Over time, cars got better and more affordable, and slowly but surely, we had friends who lived an hour away, but not a community where we actually lived. More technological innovations and revolutions took place and by the early years of the 21st century, cities were booming and life was easy but we were starting to feel disconnected because we were, in fact, disconnected. Recognizing this problem, The Machine, via Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs, and advertisers stepped in to offer their technological solutions, and social media was born.
In 2003, MySpace was created as a place to form an online community through sharing content. As this and other social media sites began to grow, in 2007 the first iPhone was released and the world has never been the same. In the blink of an eye, iPhone and competing smartphone apps brought Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into seemingly everyone’s hands. Suddenly we were “more connected than ever” according to popular opinion and for a while, this felt true. Gaining friends (not making friends) on Facebook was fun! Sharing your thoughts, liking other posts, commenting, and sharing with a group of people you found online did indeed feel like a community. If you needed more of a thrill, most turned to Twitter. It was risky and freeing to share wild thoughts and opinions. Often you would find like-minded people who applauded what you had to say, and if someone challenged you, those like-minded people were quick and bold in your defense, giving you a sense of belonging. You had found your tribe! Then Instagram came and took this one step further. Not only could you share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions with a larger audience than may have otherwise been possible, but you could now, more easily than ever, curate the desired image of yourself. We now had complete control of what others saw. With amazing cameras on smartphones, filters that can make just about anyone gorgeous, and time to construct exactly what you want to say, we all, to some extent, became liars by omission.
Some had thousands of friends or followers online, but would never dare to tell them that offline they spent days on end alone. In the comment sections, some played tough guy, keyboard warrior, or hero, yet avoided real-life confrontation at all costs. And we’ve probably all known couples who display their undying love and affection for each other on social media who in reality fight like mad. To be honest about these things would destroy our egos and maybe the number of followers (we know how important numbers are). Honesty is hard, so we continue lying by omission. To continue lying, we further separate ourselves from others, stay away from would-be friends and communities, and live with our faces in our devices. We have achieved the exact opposite of what those who created social media intended. We may be “connected” to the internet but we damn sure aren’t connected with each other. Silicon Valley’s technology solutions turned out to be nothing more than subpar, fast-acting, quickly dying substitutes. If technological innovation or “progress” cannot fulfill our wholesome longings, what can? Here is where I point you to real-life, face-to-face, human-centered, social interaction because, in the words of Marvin Gaye, “A’int nothing like the real thing, baby.”
The suggestions I have to offer may not be best for you, fit your schedule, or may not be easy to accomplish. You do not necessarily need to do these specific things. These suggestions are just to help get you thinking of ways for you to easily bolster your level of human-centered interactions and eventually fulfill those wholesome longings.
Visit, in person, your local city hall or town hall (or their website if you must) and look for volunteer opportunities.
Reach out to a friend or group of friends and meet for coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, desserts, tapas, or whatever, make a plan, get a babysitter, and spend time with your friend or friends. Make this something you do weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Just make it a routine.
Join a church. After that join a Bible Study or small group. Then, go on mission trips. Those trips are truly amazing, not only for those you are serving but for you as well.
Plan and host a dinner party. Or host just one close friend for dinner. Again, make this a routine.
Join a book club or start a book club.
Participate in community events like community yard sales, or food truck festivals. Even if you don’t buy anything at these events you can show up and just hang out with friends.
Plan and host family dinners/game nights. Break out the board games or games that can be played on the lawn if you have one.
Most importantly, when doing anything of these types of things, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! Be present and intentional with those you are with.
As Christians, we believe everyone, whether they believe it or not, has been made in the image of God. Each of us has been given gifts, talents, abilities, and personality traits that when properly nurtured and exercised, express various aspects and attributes of God to those around us. We do ourselves and more importantly our fellow humans, an enormous and frankly unjustifiable disservice when we choose social media over community. It does not have to be this way. We all have a choice. Social media is not mandatory and should you choose to use it, you can do so without giving up control of your life. Consider a digital detox of your own. Find community, and fulfill those God-given wholesome longings.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon us, we sinners.
Thank you for reading! Do your best to disconnect from the artificial, and connect with others.
And as always,
Keep thy head cool and thine eyes true.
Howard Pyle, Man of Iron
Scripture of the Week
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
Matthew 5:37 KJV
Word of the Week
(noun) Appellation- name or title.
Why appllation? It's just a good word.
Music of the Week
In Another Life -The Killers. This album, Pressure Machine was released in 2021. If you have not listened to the entire album or any of it, you are missing out!