Posts Tagged ‘Lost Empathy’


I have written before about the culling-purging of my social media accounts to become something that keeps me connected and informed, but also encouraged. It is a hard thing to accomplish, especially with the state of UCPLand 7 months in, and under the guise of the cross and cult of Conservatism & Oil & Gas the most petty-punitive measures being taken against our children, our elders, and those with disabilities (perhaps they forgot how civilized cultures are judged? Or the Love Command of:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

-1 John 3:18 (New International Version)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

-John 13: 34-35 (English Standard Version)

Or simply, that according to the Gospels they state to follow, Matthew 25 lays out harsh judgment for those that punish Jesus (who is met in the least of these)… Obviously the faith based the party flagrantly flies, is nothing more than camouflage for power and retribution, but I digress into a post on faith. Or do I? See, a study out of the University of Michigan has shown the drift of the last 40 years on Compassion. We are 40% less compassionate, so yes, Millenials and Generation Z looking back on Gen X, Boomers and the Greatest generation pre-social media may see us as racist and un-woke as AF, yet we were empathetic to the one in front of us (if we carried horrid generalizations of groups). Yet, this drift just does not affect the two generations raised exclusively on social media it is also in waves crashing into the previous generations that have plugged in. Our feeds share real time world atrocities, humour, sports, religion, and it all inputs into our minds consciously (or if you are killing time just scrolling not engaging with the feed, subconsciously) and basically sets us at a level of fight, flight or freeze… essentially shell shock– we no longer feel for any level, and have become disconnected from ourselves. If we cannot connect with our own emotional spectrum, how can we ever connect with another?

How?

Simply think, it used to be that we knew what was okay and not okay to say in public gatherings. Those interior held beliefs (usually the racist and ableist ones), can now easily be shared as trolling online, and one can find a group to be a part of that espouses the venom, and cheers you on (Wexit crowd anyone?). Arguments filled with fallacy are used, there is no believing in or for something, we stand against and scream against…why do we vote this way “it’s not the other guy”. How often do we know good people at work or church or socially, and then follow them on social media or “friend on Facebook” (did you know on average a person has 328 FB friends, but only 2 real friends? Before FB it used to be 6 true friends–and that Burger King did an offer where if you unfriended 10 FB friends you would get a free Whopper—well we value FB friends so much that the system for the coupons crashed).

What if… we unplugged…. what if… we connected in person? That’s a big what if the connection in person as Jesus directed, and the community of John re-iterated. John who wrote his gospel with the unnamed character the beloved disciple, so that you could read his gospel, and put your name in that character (it was like the second person point of view, or the Philip Marlowe movie, Lady in the Lake, where you are the detective because the camera is the main character-detective).

But do we engage one to one? Or is it screen to screen? See a digital detox is not simply using social media more critically, and thinking before sharing, asking if this truly represents who you are. Too often our lived lives and online lives are in disconnect, which leaves us living in cognitive dissonance– which increases anxiety, stress and depression (note the state of our world). But engaging in person, means not checking our phones while out. It means being with the person talking about life, sharing who we truly are, what we enjoy. Going beyond the small talk of life.

Detoxing is a vital word in the process, for as anyone describes the highs they get when they are completely plugged in, and how they feel when they can’t be on…well it sounds like talking to a gambling addict or cocaine user. The first hit, the first high, nothing feeling the same, but constantly chasing it. See we are a highly connected world, that means folks believe they are not alone. It is true we are not alone, and our screens can program us like Pavlov’s dogs to conform to what the algorithm wants.  Yet, we are lonely because there is no presence to the connection.

Re-connect with yourself. Re-connect with friends. How is this done? Over the last two weeks some things were shared as spiritual practice. Now, take this for those who are using technology for non-belonging purposes. Thankfully due to apps, people with disabilities, and non-verbal individuals have been able to connect with their world, this is healthy so a detox is not to cut off your friends/family who are using technology for that, or have connected with a person who is using it for belonging.

No, a detox is to make yourself healthier, and a better consumer of information by stepping out of the white noise and re-assessing. It can be a day away from technology. It can be waiting an hour after wake up to check your feeds, phone and e-mail, and checking it the last time before bed 2 hours before. It could be replacing your phone alarm clock with an old fashioned alarm clock. When out with people or in a class, not checking your phone being present in the moment. When I taught and was a youth pastor we had the tech basket where phones would go in for the night so we could be present with one another. It was like my one history prof would say, you are not a doctor, someone will not die if you do not answer the phone. I chuckle at this, because I remember in seminary being on call as a political candidate for media and the unique conversations it created in classes I had to step out and answer the call, and speak on a subject off the cuff whether environmental or justice related…that was 12 years ago, and yet it has gotten worse.

The question to reflect on as we head towards Advent becomes are you willing to re-shape your online world? Are you ready, if you haven’t already, to end your cognitive dissonance of lives? Are you ready to connect with the personal?

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

-Matthew 22:37-39 (New King James Version)

Further reading resources (shared by BVCC as to what was used to open the conversation):

BOOKS
Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family
Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You
Quentin J. Schultze, Habits of the High-Tech Heart
Daniel Strange, Plugged In
Adam Thomas, Digital Disciple: Real Christianity in a Virtual World
Brian D. Wassom, What Would Jesus Post?
ARTICLES
Chad Meeks, “Screen Time Is Changing the Way We Think, Focus, and Memorize”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november-web-only/how-screen-timeis-changing-way-we-think.html
Tony Reinke, “Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning”
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-wrong-reasons-to-check-your-phone-in-themorning
David Roark, “Embracing Liturgy in a Digital Age”

Embracing Liturgy in a Digital Age


Ed Stetzer, “Expanding the Digital Footprint of Our Churches”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/august/expanding-digital-footprint-of-our-churches.html
The Digital Missions Podcast – https://www.centerforonlineevangelism.org/podcast/

We Are Hopelessly Hooked


https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-wrong-reasons-to-check-your-phone-inthe-morning
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