As I write this I’m distracted.
I’m distracted because this is the world I live in. This is what I’m used to.
At the bottom of the page I see a blinking Facebook notification. I keep looking down at it until I’m tempted to see who it is or what they said. I guess it’s THAT important.
I’m distracted just like the two kids in front of me in the lounge of this YMCA who have coloring books spread out on their laps but their hands work vigorously at a small game console. Headphones keep out the sounds of the other children in the pool behind them. We meet eyes briefly before they go back to their game and I go back to this white screen…with that darn blinking Facebook icon again.
I’m distracted because there’s a TV hanging from the corner of the room and they’re talking about the Superbowl. I’ve seen the interviews before but my eyes are still drawn to the players, even though there’s no sound. But it’s something to watch. A young guy in the corner stares at it blankly. Distracted.
So suddenly what I was going to write about doesn’t matter as much now—not as much as this does.
Our world is too distracted. And it’s killing us without us noticing. It’s a war we’re losing.
We don’t notice because, well, we’re distracted.
We’re sedated by flickering televisions and abstract games that plunge our minds into a reality that doesn’t exist. We’re tranquilized by “walls” and “profiles” and “friend” lists that suddenly define who we are and our importance more than what we do outside of the screen. We’re lulled to sleep by the buzz of media, movies, gossip magazines, chat rooms, text messages, and Candy Crush marathons. Slowly and surely Satan is making sure that our precious bodies and minds are stupefied and no longer needed for contentment.
I think about the days—not even that long ago *although it seems like it to me*—that running barefoot to the neighbor’s door in the summer and asking if “Johnny can play” was the usual way to make friends. Not friend requests. I think about the days when a boy would have to pick up the phone and call a girl, asking her on a date—not when a text message could mindlessly be punched out and sent. Can you remember the days when family dinners were spent around a table where you could see everyone’s eyes, not their foreheads as they checked blinking phones?
I can still remember it. But my children won’t be able to. And that hurts me to think about.
I often wonder if Heavenly Father toiled over the fact that one day scriptures wouldn’t be “entertaining” enough to read. That it’d be dry for those who are used to slaying dragons over an X-Box or watching a segment of “Who wore it best?” after an hour or two of an awards show that holds no real importance whatsoever. Did that cause him pain? But of course he knew it’d come. The cunningness of Lucifer knew that a good way to trap anything is to rock it to a blissful, distracted, pleasured sleep where the body is completely unused.
When I was in college at BYU-Idaho one of the first devotionals I attended was with Elder Bednar–a leader in my church. The talk is titled “Things as They Really Are”. I’ll never forget something he said that day back in 2009. It was the voice of warning.
He said, “If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.”
I say this with a kind of realization—a realization that I need to wake up more too.
Participate more in a real world that still has real sunsets and real people and real adventure. Read books that teach something you can walk away with. Turn off the radio and talk to God for awhile. Turn off the phone long enough to share a dinner with your wife.
Don’t let the world rock you to sleep.
**Writer’s Note: After reading some comments, I wish to write a disclaimer that I do not believe that all technology or social media is inherently evil. Not at all. Without technology, I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t be employed any longer since managing social media and writing is what I do by trade. And I couldn’t connect with those I love who live thousands of miles away. Technology can be a blessing. But in this post, I wished to reflect on all-consuming habits and distractions that take away from life or face-to-face communication or activities. Thanks for reading!