I’m an Addict

I’m addicted to mapl2-imin1-20y cellphone.

I’m addicted to Ted talks.

I’m addicted to social media.

I’m addicted to being connected.

I’m an addict.  I imagine a not-so-distant future where we have TA meetings in churches.

I’m serious.

When I forget my phone at home, I feel naked.  Like missing my drivers license before a cross-country trip.  Or like forgetting my kid at the grocery store.

No really; the anxiety can be that bad sometimes.

It preoccupies my mind. No, that’s wrongly said.  It doesn’t preoccupy my mind.  It colonizes my mind.

I’ll call my wife from the middle of Target to find out where she is when we’re in the same store.

You laugh.  I laugh.  But it’s serious. It’s like laughing the way we do when a friend describes a drinking escapade that is obviously indicative of an issue.  It’s funny and we laugh because if we were to take it seriously we’d have to change our behavior.

And this is the thing: I know it’s a spiritual condition.

It’s a spiritual condition because my phone and my ipod and my computers prevent me from being present.  Oh, sure; I’m up to date.  I read the New York Times like it’s nobody’s business.  Back articles galore.

And I know exactly where folks are because of Twitter and Facebook and…

Except myself.  I’m not sure exactly where I am in those moments.

Because physically I’m in a room with my family, my boy babbling on the blanket spread out on the floor.

But mentally I’m in cyberspace.

And I don’t want to be.

The thing is, I don’t think that Christianity is talking about this addiction very much.  In fact, I often am encouraged in my addiction by other pastors and professional leaders and leadership gurus who encourage us to “up our presence” on social media, on web blogs and chat sites.

Our Klout scores must rise…

And as it rises, my spirituality falls.  Because I’m never present.

Sunday morning can be a time of presence, of course.  As I ring the meditation bell after the scripture readings at services, I fall into the present in a way that really is transcendent.

That’s the irony that I find in worship: it grounds me in the present by lifting me beyond myself.

And I pray for it at other times in my life.

But the bell of a new text calls me from my present into the anxiety of the digital words on my screen; a different scripture reading of sorts that lays claim on my time and attention.  And I worry some about introducing technology into sacred spaces.  I’m not totally against it…but I have mixed feelings about it.

And it has nothing to do with “old” and “new” styles of worship (whatever that means).  It has to do with breaking an addiction.  And I know I rarely listen to any one thing anymore.  Listen; really listen.  I know that meditation is pretty much the only thing I do in a day that doesn’t involve a computer chip (except that I do prefer old-school books to Kindles and Nooks…though I usually am listening to my ipod when I’m reading).

I don’t think we’re doing this very well, church.  We may be encouraging our people’s addictions.  I’m of mixed emotions on it.

I’m not saying the church should be anti-technology; I’m a blogger after all.

But, by God, we’re very much reinforcing the terrible addictions of so many by our deafening silence on this spiritual issue.  And it’s not only making me a reluctant tweeter, it’s making me a reluctant Christian.

And it’s killing me.  Killing us, I think.

Is technology to blame?

It’s interesting to me that technology intends, by profession, to connect the world, and yet by doing so it cuts us off from those right in front of us and around us. And I’m not complaining like the octogenarian who wishes things were “like the old days.”  The “old days” weren’t all that awesome from what I can tell.

I’m really just wondering if we should do something just because we can.

But, I digress.  No; technology is not to blame.

It’s my need to know. To constantly know.

That is to blame.

Perhaps we should stop texting about it and start talking about it as a faith community.  Because our addictions to know are preventing us from being, now.

3 thoughts on “I’m an Addict

  1. As a fellow addict, with many of the same thoughts – thank you. I apply many of these thoughts to the other “harmless” or “socially acceptable” addictions we have – coffee and perfectionism being my two biggies.
    I was discussing with my uber-organised teenager (I know that should be an oxymoron) the other day how systems and processes are great UNTIL they start to negatively affect our relationships. And that to me is the hallmark of an addiction: something – anything – I consistently do that negatively impacts my relationships.
    Unfortunately, society and the church seem to have a much broader definition, and need to physically see a wider swathe of destruction before they feel they should step in.

  2. Thank you for this great reminder about the MANY ways God is at work with our hands and our voices… one sandwich and one movement at a time. My vision for our congregation was that we would go do odd jobs for people in our community, but the truth ended up being we mostly served widows and the elderly from our own congregation. In fact, it was difficult to get people to say yes to help. But one woman, who has just been diagnosed with cancer did need her front porch whitewashed, another had only one working lightbulb in her house, still another senior couple needed a faucet fixed. And you are so right, it’s more about the conversations than the projects. It’s about the love as much as the food. Let’s do this every day.

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