Wednesday, February 29, 2012

World at Our Fingertips

In my last post, I talked about living with the world at our fingertips. And that is true. When we need something, it is right there. Within reach. Immediately.

And with our world so close, my question is this: why are we so determined not to touch it?

What I mean is that we have changed the definition of world to be more about facts, figures, position, and appearances than community, people, love, and strength. Our world is what we can read in wikipedia, and if it doesn't make a good entry, we can't seem to fathom it. And on the opposite extreme, we become aware of problems in distant regions that we now have a connection to thanks to our technology. Third-world problems have become the cause for "first-world" charity. We send money, food, clothing, etc. without a care.

Then we look at the homeless in our own community and scowl at them, refuse to give them the same charity as a village in Africa because we know the village isn't "spending the money on booze."

Because we feel for these people and with the aid of our technology, we never have to touch them.

The truth is, we are growing further apart because of this world within reach. Everything is so much nearer, but we have distanced ourselves from it and continue to do so. Did you know that my college roommate and I used to sit in the same dorm room, three feet apart from each other, and instant message instead of actually talk? We send text messages (well, I don't; I don't text. Really.) instead of picking up a phone. We click off an email instead of writing a letter. And if you don't look like your Facebook photo, hardly anyone will recognize you on the streets.

There are so few people who know anybody else these days. (And sadly, few who know themselves.) We let our technology speak for us and tell the world who we are. Always on the Blackberry? You must be important. And earpieces aren't just for the secret service any more. The list goes on. And it's sad.

When I was growing up, I knew all of my neighbors. I've moved since then, and I had to Google my new neighbors' names because we're rarely outside together. If I needed a cup of sugar (or one of them did), we wouldn't buddy up and borrrow; we'd head to the nearest grocery store. There are people I see every Sunday at church who know more about me from Facebook than anywhere else because...we don't talk. We haven't had lunch together. We haven't been over to each other's houses. We don't do anything together except read snippets of our lives and funny quips we've heard and words we've played with friends.

We're growing apart, when the world is right here for our taking. When we have the power to deeply connect, to share something more knowledgeable and meaningful than we ever have before. When we can talk with someone half a world away like they are right here in our living room....and we are hesitant, if not terrified, to touch our world.

I think our world needs touched. I think we need to connect, life to life and heart to heart. Inside each of us, there is that place that wants, more than anything, to be known and understands that we're getting further away from that. We need our communities back. Our neighborhoods. Our families, even. And yes, our very lives. Because it is in true community that we live and thrive and love.

We need to get back to knowing each other instead of just knowing about each other.

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