March 8, 2013

The Rev. Patricia M. Grace: Click less. Live more.

“Click less. Live more.”

These words in an ad for an Internet information company caught my eye as I read the paper one morning. They promised potential customers a life that could be lived “more richly” if they used their convenient services.  

I thought the vendor was talking about something other than using MORE technology. Nope.  They really meant click more — just click more with us. And that is exactly the wrong way to go, in my mind.

For a long time now, I’ve observed the devastating effects of our culture’s obsession with technology. I watch couples out to dinner manipulate their phones and data devices instead of talking to each other. I’ve gotten told off many times on email — and only occasionally received an apology via the same. Recently I heard a young woman say that she had decided “to give her best self to her blog” — not to her husband and their three small children. The results have been predictably calamitous: her husband has left her and her oldest daughter chooses the company of YouTube over spending any time with her mother.

Now don’t get me wrong. Technology is a gift from God. I praise our Creator who’s made the expansive imaginations that have brought great convenience, safety and entertainment to our lives. Believe me, the streets are much safer now that I have GPS capability. It’s not technology that’s the root of this present evil, but the disproportionate love of technology that’s the problem. I believe the Bible made the same point about money.

We’re no longer living in just an overly material world, but a virtual one. Paradoxically, we have the most extensive capability of communicating with one another of all time, yet people are increasingly unable to live together in peace, to solve conflicts equitably, or to argue and remain in a relationship.

We need to click less and live more. For real. The three great faith traditions of the world tell the story of a God who seeks a relationship — up close and personal, not through a glass screen, darkly. For Christians, the doctrine of incarnation is central — the notion that God so loved the world that God chose to take on human flesh, human joy and human troubles. God chose to rub elbows with humankind to show us that being in a relationship, in the flesh, although difficult, is the preferred way to live.  

Try clicking less and living more for just a day or two. Many folks in my tradition have cut back on texting or visiting social media sites for Lent. One decided to write an actual letter to some people she doesn’t see often. Her friends were delighted with her visit via the written page — and they have decided to actually meet each other, in the flesh, after Easter. Clicking less, living more.

God promises us a life that can be lived “more richly” by offering us a relationship that’s real — a relationship that can save our eternal lives, not virtually, but in fact. God invites us to live in true community with others for the same reason. Click less, dear friends — and work to live more richly, together.


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