Posted by: ritagone | February 17, 2010

Technological Hypocrisy

If you’re like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the computer screen.  I answer emails, I go on Facebook, I even read (but don’t initiate) Tweets on Twitter.  I do all my studying and lesson planning online unless I’m reading something, which I still do the old-fashioned way, with a book (or my Kindle!).  I check stocks, I keep my calendar (iCal), I write notes to myself to remember things, all on the computer.  I am going to confess something here: I play a game called Bookworm.  I am addicted.  If there were a 12-step program for it, I’d be there: “Hello, my name is Rita, and I’m a Bookworm junkie.”  I am in Cyberspace a good deal of the day, unless I go to lunch with a friend, run errands, pick up grandchildren, or force myself to leave my comfortable, soothing office and the computer screen that entices me.  At night I have to tear myself away, literally walk away from the glowing screen.  (I have a laptop in my bedroom, the one I travel with, but I usually don’t work on it there.  I do have some boundaries!)

We tell our children and grandchildren not to play video games all day long, we encourage them to go out and play, to interact with people.  But don’t I do the same thing when I sit in front of my computer – and justify it that I’m doing “important work”?  (This is a rhetorical question; the answer is “yes,” I do.)

I read a book recently called “Sway,” by Rom and Ori Brafman, about how and why we make the decisions and hold the opinions that we do.  It’s a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it to you if you’re looking for something informative to read.  One of the things they mention is a psychological factor called the “fundamental attribution error,” in which we tend to view other peoples’ actions as reflections of their character while overlooking the specific situation’s influence on those actions, while concerning ourselves, we recognize the power and pressure of circumstance.  In other words, we’re not very fair when it comes to understanding other peoples’ behaviors compared to our own.  We are much more tolerant of ourselves and our circumstances than the other guy’s situation and character.  Here’s an example:  when I’m in the movie theater and someone’s cell phone rings, I immediately attribute it to the fact that they are an inconsiderate boor.  However, if my cell phone goes off, on the other hand, it’s because I absolutely must take this most important call I’ve been waiting for, and no one should be offended because of it.

So I found myself in a similar situation concerning the use of the computer and the Wii.  While I was encouraging my grandchildren to go out and socialize and be active instead of playing games and sitting in front of a screen, I didn’t hold myself accountable to the same standard…because, of course, what I was doing was so much more important than what they were doing.

Shame on me.

We call this hypocrisy, and none of us likes to think we are guilty of it.  We can pretty easily see it in others and condemn it, but we sure are blind to it in our own attitudes and behavior.  Where do I do this…and if this is a blind spot, how am I ever going to correct it if, by definition, I can’t even see it?

I think the answer lies in Scripture and applying it as we read it to our own very personal situations, and it lies in people around us whom we trust and value and whom we have given permission to speak into our lives, to uncover those blind spots that we can’t detect ourselves.  This of course implies that we are actually reading Scripture, that we’re away from our computers (or maybe using our computers to read something of the Bible every day) and allowing God’s Word to permeate everything we say and think and do.  It also implies that we have spent enough time (away from our computers) with people in relationships that are mutually rewarding and strengthening, iron sharpening iron.           Your computer is wonderful, and so is mine.  I wouldn’t be without it.  That’s not what I’m advocating here.

What I’m suggesting – highly recommending – is that we spend some time re-evaluating where we stand with the Bible and with the friends God has put into our lives.  If this is important for our children and grandchildren and for all the people we come into contact with and we’re concerned about them enough to influence them or insist that they get out into the sunshine, move around, be more active and less sedentary, develop relationships and a healthy amount of time in the Word, it ought to be so with us too.

So think about this today or this evening.  How does it apply to you?  Because I can guarantee you that it truly does apply to you!  You just need to determine the specifics and make some changes, and I promise to do that too.

Have a great rest of the week!

This Sunday I fly to Portugal to attend the  C.A. Leadership Summit in Faro.  I’ll try to do a newsy update from the site next Wednesday, God willing.  Until then, I send my fondest regards to you who are reading this.


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