Thursday, July 8, 2010

The end of solitude??

I stumbled (belatedly) across this essay online a couple of weeks ago. I found it interesting, because by nature I consider myself to be an introvert. I love being alone.

For those who don't have time to read the whole thing, it argues that the internet, and computer technology in general, has created "a culture of connectivity" in which we crave visibility, recognition and connection with others. And goes on to say that this comes at the expense of our ability to enjoy being alone and to spend time in quiet reflection.

Interestingly, the author also makes the point that "the act of being alone has been understood as an essential dimension of the religious experience." I would agree that it is, and that perhaps people's search for connection with others via Facebook friend counts, following celebrities on Twitter, even in wondering how many people out there are reading our blogs (see this post of mine as an example) can, for both non-Christians and Christians, be a search for connectedness that can really only be found through God.

However, Christianity, as I understand it, is not all about solitude. We were made to relate to God, through His son Jesus and his death on the cross. And it is important to spend time in quiet and solitary reflection through prayer and studying God's word. But we are also made to connect with other Christians. And to non-Christians as well. The internet now allows us to do that in ways we would never have dreamed about a few short years ago. But it shouldn't be a total substitute for face to face connection and relationship-building.

The challenge in todays's plethora of computer technology is how to relate to other people without falling into the trap of "craving recognition." And also in not letting technology dominate our time to the extent that we never take the time to reflect quietly and with thankfulness on all that God has done for us.

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