Re-Entering "The World" / by Dale Wiley

I've alluded to my continuing, intentional project of reconsidering the drawbacks of the virtual world over the past several months. It started when I realized not only how much technology was affecting my life, but when I saw the many effects in the lives of the people's lives around me.

As much as we want to blame everything on the kids, technology over the last decade has changed adults every bit as much. In fact, on the occasions where I've tried to put a moratorium on electronic devices, I've learned that I need to check mine (for business I say!) every bit, if not more, than my kids.

Several years ago, before I became more intentional about it, I realized that email had creeped into my bed. I realized I wasn't setting boundaries about my work email use, and eventually, I could feel myself having it enter the most precious domain, that of time with my children. I guess that's really where this reclaiming started, and it started by me setting time that I would not be available for work email. Clients didn't like it at first, but eventually I reclaimed that. It is much easier to maintain that time now, and I feel like not having to respond at every moment has been a worthwhile change in my life.

Now, it factors in this trip because on one hand I want to see how the book is doing, but on the other hand, I want to interact with friends and family, some of whom I haven't seen for many years. Invariably, we all tsk tsk the younger generation. Invariably we pick up our cell phones as soon as the slightest disagreement relates or we need to Shazam a song.

To me, our constant Facebook rudeness is related to the ability to say things that would never be said face to face and constantly be right. You can choose to engage with people with whom you disagree and go through life believing your positions are always right.

This trip has reminded me of taking trips without GPS. People not knowing where you are. Having conversations not interrupted by another person: They can wait. You're with this friend now.

Walking through the ancient streets of Savannah, sitting in exacting drawing rooms that builders today couldn't conceive of constructing, seeing the permanence and brilliance of what we once created, I feel stuck at a crossroads: are we trading too much for the constant crave for instancy? Are we sacrificing beauty and sanity for the unending need for now?

As we see people protesting an order that many of them haven't read, as we watch leaders sign documents they likely haven't read, I ask about the price of the state of the world. Have fear and anxiety overrun us? Would we get peace in return, or have we just lost touch with our ability to deal with anyone else?

I don't have the answers, but these are questions that beg our attention. If we can't explain what we've sacrificed and why, that's when I will know our loss is bigger than we can explain.