Spiders trapped in their own (world wide) webs

While at the movies recently I saw a guy in his early 20’s stepping out of the theatre and into the lobby to take a phone call.  It was then that I had this realization: we’ve lost something.  We made a decision with out realizing it.  We bought into an idea with out ever considering whether or not it was a good idea.

That first idea that we’ve bought is that  people have the right to contact us around the clock.  Sneaking around on the coat tails of this idea is the fear that we have an obligation to be contactable around the clock.  And hiding in the hair of that idea, like a lice infestation, is the idea that people actually care what we’re up, to 24-7.

But I think that this is the worst of it.

The worst of it is that there seems to be this idea that all we are is social beings.   I don’t have any trouble with the claim that we are social beings.  But there is a universe of difference between the claim “we are social beings” and “all we are is social beings.”

Perhaps I’m being paranoid and oversensetive.  I can’t give any real rational evidence.  For what I’m trying to say here.

Here’s what I am sure of:  I keep thinking about the Jeff Goldbloom character in Jurassic Park, when he essentially says, “We spend too much time wondering if we can do something and not enough time wondering if we should do something.”

And I’m also sure, that  we’ve created an entire society of people at the center of these webs of connections to other people.  Our spider webs transmit these instant sound bites and pieces of trivia.  I know that we’ve lost the art of being in silence.  I know the practice of percolating things is as dated as the idea of a coffee percolator itself; I know that processing information, chewing it over, and sharing wisdom (rather than information) is becoming a lost art.  I’m confident that we’re actually shutting each other out of our consciousness even when we’re in public spaces.  Have you noticed how people walk through crowded areas, discussing the most intimate things, as if the people around them don’t even exist?

What’s harder for me to put into words, the thing that maybe is just my emotional nature running amuck, is the idea that this is all leading to a devalue of ourselves and the people around us.  We’ve turned each other into jukeboxes.   We’ve lost track of the parts of ourselves that we only find in solitude and silence.

And we’ve traded this in for a shadow of community and for a sad substitute for being connected.  Increasingly, these spider webs we’ve trapped ourselves in are one-sided, cheap, and easy illusions.

I write all this with the awareness of the hypocrisy implied in all this.  I am, after all publishing this to my blog.  I’ll probably post a link to it on my facebook page.  But the thing is, I’m not saying that these things are bad: it’s not a bad thing to have a cell phone, to twitter, or to have a my space page.  I am saying it is a bad thing, though, if these technologies have us.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “Spiders trapped in their own (world wide) webs”

  1. I like the idea of my cell phone:
    They’re great in an emergency so I can be connected-
    There’s Ease of use-
    They are Portable-

    But do these things really outweigh the things I lose?

    I lose money: they cost more than a landline.
    I lose privacy: i can be contacted whenever.
    I lose initiative: I’ll make that call later, I don’t need to do it when I’m home anymore.
    I lose safety: I, like others, make calls while I’m driving and put others at risk.

    I think you’re right, Jeff. I think this web of technology (cell phones especially) have created a monster that we don’t even know how to get away from…


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