The “Twitter Olympics”? Apparently that’s what the current Olympic Games are being called. I guess thousands upon thousands, including some of the athletes, are tweeting on a regular basis about everything from the events themselves to the scandals to the TV coverage to the outfits to London’s handling of the Games to Mitt Romney’s faux pas’.
Do you tweet? I confess I don’t. I don’t consider myself anti-social but I don’t tweet or post or blog (unless as part of a seminary course) and I have no desire to do so. I joined Facebook about four years ago but closed my account after receiving dozens of “so and so wants to be your friend…” notifications, one particular “friend” contact from a guy I knew in Junior High which gave me the creeps. It seemed to me at the time that Facebook would require far too much computer time from me in just responding to emails, etc. when the last thing I needed in my life were more emails! I joined Linked-In about two years ago but I’m not sure why. I don’t want to be more linked-in than I already am. So clearly, as you will have guessed, I’m not tweeting about the Olympics. I’d rather watch the events replayed, or the highlights, on our HDTV at night before going to bed than gossip about whatever on the Internet.
This may sound grumpy, and somewhat out-of-touch, but have we lost something through our sometimes excessive reliance on technology? The ability to communicate politely, perhaps, for one thing? To disagree amicably? To listen quietly, patiently, while a friend finishes his/her sentence? To engage in somewhat intelligent, respectful conversation when actually face to face with another? The Bible has nothing to say about web sites and blogging, of course, but as people whose primary reason for being connected has to do with a common faith as well as identification with a church which we often refer to as a community of faith, ought we not be wary of the dangers of too much technology? If our calling is, partly at least, to be in community with one another, can we really do it via Twitter? Perhaps I am really out-of-touch because I know some of you will answer “yes” to that question. I don’t think we can.
It’s interesting to note that atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists of our time have actually discovered or realized “community” via the Internet. Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor, has commented on this relatively new development: “The Internet has become the de facto global church for atheists, agnostics and other doubters of God, who of course don’t have bricks and mortar churches in which to congregate… Recent strings of posts around the question of “Where was God in Aurora?” drew especially large waves of comments that show atheists are using the Internet to commune with one another and to confront religious believers in ways that they don’t usually do in church.” But is this really community?
So maybe I’m a bit of a dinosaur, even though I use email frequently, notably in using this technology to send out the “weekly devotionals”. I simply leave you with these thoughts: despite the advantages of modern communication technology, Skype for example, can our excessive use of such technology in fact increase the distance between us rather than bring us closer together? How many hours a day do you spend on email, Facebook, tweeting, blogging, etc., and is that a cause for concern? How might we use or choose not to use technology in our discipleship, as we seek to follow Jesus, serve God, and let God’s grace flow from us?