I own a Blackberry - or maybe I should say that it owns me. When it rings as a cell phone I answer it (most times). When it beeps to tell me I have an appointment in ten minutes I drive to the designated place. When it signals a download of emails (it checks every ten minutes) then I most often look to see who needs what and how soon. Am I addicted or just trying to keep on top of my busy world and be effective?
Interesting statistics came in the other day. The question was: “Where are you when you check in on your portable device (in my case a Blackberry) and check your emails?”
39% in a bar or club
67% in bed in their pajamas
15% in Church (note that one pastors - that teen with his head down is most likely text messaging)
59% in the bathroom
34% at happy hour
38% in a business meeting
(Source: AOL mail’s E-Mail Addiction Survey)
Are we addicted to this instant communication world in which we live? Are we so dependent upon hearing from others all the time that we must rush to our mobile devices and stay connected almost 24/7? Is there anything such as silence and solitude in people’s lives any more?
For years I have functioned with a need for inner calm and knowing (sensing) God’s peace that passes all understanding. I am an introvert so I need my quiet and uninterrupted time to recharge my personal internal batteries. So, I make sure every day that the Blackberry is turned off for a period so that I can recharge and refresh. I am a believer and so every day I need time with the Lord and with His Word as found in the Bible and so I turn the Blackberry off for a period of time each day so that I can have an uninterrupted time with the Lord. And, I appreciate time with one or another family member each day (I have a large family and so it takes several weeks to get around to chatting with everyone one-on-one) so during that time the Blackberry is set to “do not disturb/meeting” setting so that it does not ring, vibrate, or click at me.
Of course, that is annoying for some who believe that an email sent is an email received, read - and therefore answered. So, when several days later (alright I admit it - several weeks later) when I finally spend a day catching up on several hundred emails they are often “vocal” that they were not able to get ahold of me instantly. Some believe that I should be available by phone 20 hours a day … and so are somewhat preturbed when I am not instantly there answering the phones … or returning the call after hearing their message.
I know I have an attitude but here is how it works in my life. I figure that I bought this thing and pay a monthly charge to keep it and all the other electronic things functioning (home phone, home office phone, fax line, cable television, high-speed internet, wireless internet as we have 5 computers hooked together in this one of three office structures I work with, and phone system on my Blackberry, 2 other office cell phones connected within my system, a cell phone based in Ukraine, a toll-free 866 phone number….) and so because I “own it” and pay for it I have the right to turn it off or simply ignore it. It does not own me - I own it. I do not have to do what it is demanding of me. It is there to help me and I’m not here to help it.
So, I have this love-hate relationship with this modern technology. I love what it can do for me and the ministries I am involved in. I hate its constant demanding of my time and energy. And, I spend time helping people to understand that I really don’t have to answer every call or every email right away - and that it is okay to prioritize one’s life and the time available on any given day to accomplish tasks in some order of importance. It also takes time to help people understand that I am not shutting them out or ignoring them - it is simply that I only have so much time and so much energy and so much brain capacity (yes, I admit it, I have limitations) and therefore can only do so much in any given day. They don’t, for the most part, understand.
Now, I admit, that I am slow in returning calls and answering emails. There is just so many other things that make demands on my time… including the need for a daily time with the Lord and a daily time to plug in and recharge my personal batteries as an introvert. I admit that emails are not high on my priority lists; neither are the phones. I admit that I like talking with people one-on-one over a coffee or a Diet Pepsi (Coke) and that personal contact receives top priority over these other more high-tech methods of communicating in our modern world.
Anyone remember when letter writing was the mode of communicating and sometimes it took weeks or months before letters were received and responded to and that was okay?
So, I like the things that modern telecommunications allows me to do - but I am most certainly not addicted to it. I can and do turn it all off and shut it all down frequently and simply go for a quiet walk with the Lord and my puppy numerous times during any given day. And, I start each day in my study (separate from my office) where there are no phones or modern communication equipment (and the laptop I journal and write on is not connected to the email or internet structures) so that I am removed totally from the world of instant access.
I am not addicted!