I Swipe, Therefore I Am

Children with snowman
Raw thoughts on living in the digital, AI age...

Can I be human anymore without my connection to the internet (and the associated media platforms, apps and devices)? Does the immanence of the digital captivate my heart's affection? 

Is it simply that I am a part of a generation that lives somewhere in the liminal space, the tension, of a childhood without the internet and an adulthood in which the internet drives our society? Is this the inevitability of being a human caught in the crosswinds of major technological shifts?

A wise teacher once wrote: "The eye never has its fill of seeing, and the ear never tires of hearing." He also said, long before the internet age, "Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out."(See the wisdom book, Ecclesiastes, in the Hebrew scriptures.)

There's always a new podcast, a new artist, a new album, an email, a post, an article, a book review, a text, a video to click through, to discover, to see, to hear, to fill me, to scratch that curious itch. (And, this is nothing to speak of TikTok or Reels.)

But they never satisfy.

There's always more.

When did the internet colonize my brain? When did its allure capture the affects of my heart? When did I begin turning to the internet from dawn to dusk? How did I let it happen? Was it inevitable? 

Even as I type this post, is there some gnawing urge to "have to put words out" into the connected world (What are we calling it now? Cyberspace? The internet? The interwebs? The metaverse?)?

Do I even know how to think my own thoughts any more? To be content in being alone with myself - without my phone, without connectivity - dare I say, even without a book?

Do I even know how to really rest in solitude in the presence of God? He promises that that he can satisfy and quiet me with his love - have I given over my imagination and will to other gods?

Even now as I type these words I listen to a Piano Guys album on Spotify. But is it the perfect album to be listening to right now? Is it the ambiance I need to help the words flow?

I think the global pandemic has pushed many of us to the upper limits of what we can handle as humans in terms of our engagement in the connected world. Some of us may never emerge again from that hyperconnected parallel universe where we remain detached even while permanently tethered. Some of us may become Luddites. Some of us may rediscover the joy of incarnational community, embodiment. Some of us learned how to be alone with ourselves. Some of us learned how to distract ourselves quite effectively while being isolated.

"My people have committed two sins: they have rejected me as their fount of living water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves - cisterns that cannot hold water." 

Those words from the prophet Jeremiah on behalf of the LORD God, spoken to his people, have been imprinted upon my heart for many years. How have we rejected God for our broken cisterns of constant connection to the immanence of the digital where we have a seemingly unending stream of infotainment? 

How are we to return to God as the true fount of living water? As the wise teacher said, all of our scrolling, reading, listening, learning and watching will never really be enough. Is a digital fast what we need? New habits? A new imagination for what's possible? A detox and renouncing of the powers of the i-gods that rule over us (e.g. Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft). 


Popular Posts