Today I had intended to write about the impact of modern devices, cellphone and tablets, on young people today (I know, that makes me feel very old) but as I wrote using the modern technology in front of me it not only seemed hypocritical, it is a topic far bigger than I could take on. As I wrote, this newsletter became a bowl of spaghetti tangled in tangential sauce.
Yet, there is something I do want to address in regards to the ease and immediate communication that our modern devices afford us.
One thing is that we have redefined “immediate.” If I can contact you from my device, no matter where you are in the world (as long as their is service there), “immediate” has come to mean fast, like lightning fast. Immediate, as if time and space didn’t exist.
The word immediate, if you break it down, means not mediated.
Which is paradoxical to say the least. Because I can ‘reach you right now’ as if you were in the same room with me. Yet you aren’t. Our devices mediate between us. We live in a heavily mediated world.
I’m not knocking technology, I’m still able to be part of the LP because of it. But I am concerned about how, no matter how quickly and continually we can be in contact with one another using our devices, these devices haven’t necessarily helped people feel heard.
Recenly my friend and I were talking about young people today. We were primarily focused and two teenagers we know whom we rarely get a chance to look in the eye as they are always looking down at their devices. Our concern, though, was that we have been informed by their families that these kids suffer from depression.
I could be wrong, but my listener sensibilities did fire up upon hearing this. I feel these kids, and so many people, might possibly suffer depression because no matter how immediate their phones make communication feel, these kids may not be getting met or touched except in a mediated way. Which is actually being isolated.
The one on one, face to face listening we offer at the LP does surprise people. Mediation has become the norm. Bonnie mentioned in our retreat how one lady she offered to listen to responded, “I think I’m going to cry. I can’t believe anyone would want to listen to me.”
There very well may be moments when we are deeply touched through communication received over our devices. But it does seem like the ease of their availability has allowed mediated communication to infiltrate our lives and leave us untouched though quite occupied.
And all of this ramble, per usual, comes right back down to the deep thanks I experience by being part of a group of people who are actually in immediate contact with others. Our service of listening doesn’t just feel immediate, the way our phones may trick us into feeling for brief moments. Listening face to face isimmediate.
And yes, I have put myself out there to listen to these kids. Of course they looked at me as if I had two heads. But they did look up from their phones and into my eyes for a moment!
in gratitude and joy,