Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Digital Detox (04/24/14)
- TITLE: Ruth and Her Maker
By Matt Guddat
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I remember punching HTML into my desktop in the mid 90’s. My dialup modem was chugging away at 28KB/S while pictures took minuets to load. Websites were basic and online shopping was unheard of.
As things rapidly progressed, business horizons followed suite. Soon the internet became a bustling market place where anyone, anywhere, could buy anything from their sofa. Because nothing has succeeded in connecting the known world as much as the World Wide Web, many entrepreneurs seized the day.
Corporate giants such as Microsoft, Samsung and Apple have cashed in on the rush. And who in their position wouldn't?
Despite all the pro’s, some remain sceptics. In the wake of what some call "The Digital Explosion", many visualise mankind’s future as a scene from the Matrix; a synthetic reality where we live a virtual existence.
Such thoughts hover in the back of my mind, despite their fictitious origins. What spooks me the most, I suppose, is their oppression of loneliness. They are completely void of relationship.
In my many escapades overseas, I have had the privileged of visiting tribal villages with little to no technology. Some have even been lacking electricity. I have also met many missionaries who lived in the back blocks of the-middle-of-nowhere. Like Ruth.
Ruth was a volunteer teacher in the outer islands of Vanuatu (a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean). I vividly remember flying in a light aircraft over the volcanic island of Ambrym. Goats, chickens and a few passengers were crammed into our miniature cabin. Ruth was among the on-board circus.
She was from the United States of America and appeared to be a shy woman. She spoke in broken English and wore a local dress (which made her look more like a native than a westerner). As we gradually made conversation I understood she was leaving her teaching role. After three years of voluntary service in a native village, she was finally destined for home. Tears welled in her eyes as she spoke. Not for home, but for leaving.
In that moment I was reminded of the raw power experienced in relationship. Somehow in the midst of digital delusion we have lost the priority of friendship. Distractions abound. Often I would rather surf the net than share a coffee at the local café. Our families, friends, and phones compete for our undivided attention.
I envy Ruth, and thousands like her, who live ignorant of technology. In such a far flung environment, and due to a lack of technological distractions, people are forced into relationship and connection. In that place a commitment is formed that most of us undervalue.
Recent studies have shown that in the west, massage industries has boomed. Unfortunately as researchers queried their results they discovered this was due to a lack of physical touch. Most people use social media as a relational medium. Face to face relationship is clearly lacking in our modern world.
Despite all this, I am currently writing while saving money for the new iPhone release later this year. This is the world in which we live.
I am not against technology and its advances, but I am aware of its dramatic potential for loneliness and social dysfunction. Hopefully mankind will reignite his love for real time interaction, and in doing so, mirror the relational heart of his maker.
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