Re: Reality

May 28, 2008

I rely heavily upon a computer for my career.  I have found software that is specifically designed to meet my needs and function well for a rather small investment.  As such, I often find myself spending more time staring at electrons than living a real life.


For many people, computers and the world wide web (let alone game consoles and such) consume many of their waking hours.  We get up and flip on the idiot box and listen to the noise as we prepare for work.  We spend our time checking our blackberries as we drive to work.  We get to work and hover over a keyboard.  We go home and flip the television back on and cruise the web on our laptops. 


We have the ability to communicate with anyone in the world and search for volumes of information.   We join social networks to connect with people thousands of miles away.  We send IMs, talk for free through our headsets.  We join forums to discuss politics, religion and which Harry Potter book is the best.  We are inundated with information and online communication.


So…why do we feel so alone?

The reason we feel so alone is that we have substituted digital virtuality for analog reality.  We live our lives as usernames and avatars and signatures, but we don’t actually LIVE.


I had a person on an online forum try to avail themselves of my advice concerning my calling.  He wanted me to function as his pastor.  I don’t really know him.  Sure, I have been aware of his username for something like three years.  But I don’t know him.  Likewise, he doesn’t know me.


This young man seemed willing to take life advice from a collection of electronic impulses that claims to be a pastor.  In this case, those impulses were true.  Still, he only knows what I want him to know about me.  Yet, he is wanting my advice.


So, I gave it.


Go out of your house.  Walk, drive or crawl to your church.  Speak to your pastor.  Tell him what you have told me.


So, he did it right?


No.  He wanted me to function like a search engine and give him the top ten hits in response to his query.  Furthermore, he made every excuse I had heard (and a few I hadn’t) why he could never have a real relationship with the pastor of his church.  First and foremost was that such a relationship required his pastor make the first move.  After all, pastors are supposed to be clairvoyant and able to sense teen angst from 1000 paces.  Right?


I tried again.  I restated the need for real life relationships.  He replied that he trusted me (or rather he trusted the person he envisioned me to be).  I tried again.  He replied with flattery – I and I alone possessed the depths of wisdom necessary to speak to his need.  Come on!  I am not the dimmest bulb in the marquee, but Solomon I ain’t.  And yes, I just used the un-word “ain’t”.


After several exchanges on the forum, he became indignant and belligerent.  He recanted concerning my vast repositories of wisdom and decided that I was barely sentient pond scum.  He ranted and raved at my insensitivity to his person and his needs.  I was not responding to his pains and hurts.


In other words…he threw a temper tantrum of exquisite proficiency.


All because I dared to suggest that some problems cannot be solved by one’s imaginary friends.  Yes, imaginary.  Knowing a person is a risky proposition when you live alongside of them.  Knowing a person online is an impossibility.  I know, some people have met the love of their life online.  Many more have met predators and personal nightmares online.  Meeting your soulmate online is by far the exception and never the rule.


So my challenge to me (and to you if you read this and are so inclined) is to set limits on your technologically dependency.  Unplug.  Get those darned white wires out of your ears.  Turn off the game console.  Close your laptop.  Turn away from the TV.  Go find your mom, dad, spouse, kids, friends, neighbors and live. 

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