Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caren Explains Why Bishops are Unplugging their iPods for Lent

Last year during Lent I gave up Facebook, with the stipulation that I could only log-in if I needed to respond to an urgent message (in which case I received a notification to my Gmail account).

It seems like a silly sacrifice, but quitting it for a month was not easy, given how much communication happens across Facebook's platforms. In going through this period of Easter preparation, though, I realized how much Facebook had been detracting from my offline life.

First (and most obviously) during Lent, I found myself spending less idle time online, and instead put that time towards other activities. Second (and more importantly), giving up Facebook forced me to be deliberate about my communication with friends and family. Instead of passively maintaining relationships (i.e. knowing what someone was doing based on their status updates or photos) I had to seek people out and inquire about their well-being... as any friend or relative should.

This year bishops from the Church of England have asked something similar, but more drastic, of the Christian community: give up technology, even for just a day. They also encouraged a "Go Green for Lent" plan which you can read about here.

Most often I hear of people giving up chocolate or swearing or fried food for Lent. But as the Bishop of Oxford explained, "Giving up chocolate is a symbol of that but giving up technology is a more serious way of looking at the issues that face us as a global community.... We have galloped forward so fast, maybe we have out-run our global responsibility in [our own consumption of technology]."

Within this statement I see room for a counter-argument, though: without technology it would be difficult to connect with that global community.

What do you think, Blogosphere: is our current level of technology consumption necessary or detrimental?

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