How did this happen?  Slowly…and unexpectedly.

We are a digital people.  Everything we do is digital.  Good news for trees…now we only cut them down for overpopulation reasons, and building needs.

I recently met a young man, he was probably about 16 or 17.  I reached out to shake his hand and it was like a ball of Play-do.  Seriously, people don’t even know how to give a good handshake now?  What kind of lessons are we teaching?  Did you also know that there is actually a condition, I’m not sure of the medical term, but many young children that are entering kindergarten do not have fine motor skills because of all the video gaming and iPading and basic use of technology. Kids don’t know how to hold pencils, throw balls, or shake hands because we have lived indoors and we have not allowed these skills to properly develop. They call this “marsh mellow hands.”  Just ask any kindergarten teacher and they will confirm this. I guess we are in the throws of first world problems.

We are not only users of technology, but we have become addicts of it.  In fact, I recently read that there is a medical diagnosis for people who overuse computers, phones, social media and video games.  It is called IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder).  No joke!  We are a world that doesn’t know how to make contact with others any more.  Forget the fear of aliens – we have to learn how to make contact with another person. We have created the illusion of being ‘connected,’ while increasingly disconnecting ourselves from simple interaction with people.

I remember when I first moved over to the United States from South Africa, the Internet was still a relatively new thing, and I remember that after I’ve been here for about two or three years this new thing called Skype came out. I remember people raving about it and a have to admit that was cool seeing my parents and siblings and not just talking to them. But I remember the conversations… people were going around saying “it’s crazy, you can see them while you’re talking to them. It’s like you’re in the same room with them.”  It was interesting and as I think back on that time, that people really thought it was something revolutionary to be able to ‘see’ someone while you were talking to them. I must admit this technology is amazing, and allows for long-distance interviews, seeing live pictures of newly born babies from across the country, and for troops to see their families on their extended deployments. I remember one conversation I had with this young lady who was sharing with me how amazing this new program was, and she tried to convince me that it was the next best thing. I remember my response, although I would probably be kinder if I were having a conversation now. I remember looking at her and saying two things. She said you could “see and talk” to people at same time, and I looked at her and pointed my finger to her and then to myself and simply responded  “you mean like this?” My second response to her was that people really think Skype is amazing, but do you realize that God created the first people to be able to “see and talk” to each other in the Garden of Eden. So I guess God invented Skype. And thousands of years before we thought of it

Shifting gears.  In recent days my counseling schedule has completely filled up. Since our church is growing mostly in the area of young families, one of things we find is young moms and dads are often about a decade into their marriage, and sometimes the ruts have formed quite well. Part of them coming back to church and leading their family in areas of faith, we find that people’s marriages need little bit of work. My number one conversation is actually quite simple… people forget to talk to each other. I recently had a couple share that they can text each other all day but as soon as they are alone together at night, they cannot seem to have a conversation. This is a drastic problem that we are facing in our world. People do not know how to communicate or talk. We hide behind the anonymity of keyboards, and we make unruly comments, and we share our lives with the world, but if someone asks us what is truly going on in our inner selves, we do not have words to express how we feel or the ability to share. My encouragement to most husbands and wives is that you need to take time to talk every single day. Turn off the phones, computers, iPads, video games. Spent time talking together.  Communication is a skill not a talent.  We have to learn how to talk to each other – and practice does matter.  The more you do it, the easier and more fulfilling it will become.

Find tangible moments in this intangible world. Go outside, take a walk.  Limit your TV time, your gaming, your babysitting your kids through technology.  Engage them, share with them.  Find people not screens. Find life, and let go of the illusions the world has sold us.  They are just that.