Posted tagged ‘Texting’

The Wisdom of Moderation

January 9, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              January 9, 2018

                                         

Two of Apple’s largest stockholders are asking the company to help curb the digital addiction of children and youth. A ripple effect of the iPhone’s popularity, as well as SnapChat, texting, Facebook, and other forms of social media, has been the increasing amount of time the younger generation is “hooked” on their digital devices.

At the middle school that I substitute teach and coach at digital devices are part of the educational tool shed. Students are told to get online on their devices and sign in at Google Classroom for the reading assignment or questions to answer as they read. Research gets done at their desk on their iPhone.

Last spring, however, I experienced the other side of the digital addiction age. Several eighth graders focused on their iPhones when they were to be reading a textbook assignment. They attempted to keep their devices hidden from sight, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I recognize that sneaky look from my days of trying to hide cheat sheets in high school Spanish class.

Social media and iPhones are just the latest of a long, long line of products and vices that grow to the point of being obsessions and addictions. The average American teenager receives his/her first iPhone at the age of 10 and spends four and a half hours a day using it, not counting texts and phone calls. Recent research is connecting the risk of teen suicide with the amount of time teens spend using their digital devices. Adolescents who spend several hours a day using their digital devices tend to feel more isolated and depressed. Teens that spend less than two hours a day on their devices tend to be happier.

We should not be surprised at the negative implications of over-consumption. It fits with the scheme of things. A healthy life- physical, spiritual, emotional, mental- has balance to it. An unhealthy life is often out of balance in some way or several ways.

Several years ago I discovered Chinese buffets. I’d go there for lunch and gorge myself. The afternoon was spent feeling lousy, and I added several pounds to my body weight. I finally wised up and swore them off. I now have not been to a Chinese buffet in about ten years and, I don’t want to say it is the only reason but, my cholesterol has dropped.

There’s a great proverbs of Solomon’s that says this, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)

When we become obsessed we become vulnerable. We see in our culture today that obsessions come in different forms and in various venues. There’s greed, drunkenness, gluttony, sexual addiction, workaholic-ism, laziness, and on and on. Any obsession leads to a “broken wall’ where some kind of enemy or evil can enter in.

Pretty much anything in our life is to be practiced, consumed, or done in moderation. There is wisdom in moderation, and there is usually trouble in excessiveness.

It will be interesting to see how Apple and social media companies respond to the request about digital addiction. Apple may simply see it as a way to develop a new product designed for adolescents. In essence, it could be a new way to make money for them. The real question is what will the social media companies do that rely on consumption, exposure, and screen time to make their profits?

Companies, also, more often than not, have no self-control!

Adventures In Substitute Teaching: The Cell Phones

April 30, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             April 30, 2017

           

I was driving to school last week for a day of substitute teaching. I’m like an educational handyman…science class one day, language arts the next, physical education the day after, and social studies right before those. On this day I was headed for another day of language arts. As I approached the school I noticed one student crossing the street while looking at his cell phone. My first thought was “That kid could get hit and he wouldn’t even know it!” My second thought was “What is so urgent that it needs to be texted by a middle school kid at 7:00 in the morning as he’s crossing the street in heavy traffic?”

I’ve noticed it quite often. Students walking to school with their eyes focused on their cell phones. Cell phones have become what could best to described as “technological alcohol!” They are tech crack! People can’t live without them, but more than that, they can’t live without them for the next five minutes.

The school I mostly substitute teach at has a program called “Face Up/Face Down.” Students know that “face down” time means their devices are face down on their desks. When it’s ‘face up” time they can use their devices to look up information for class assignments or view relevant videos connected to their study focus.

But, you guessed it, the addiction to their electronic devices has resulted in “sneakiness” as a developed student skill. One young lady was sitting at her desk with her backpack in her lap trying to look studious whenever I looked at her. But I wasn’t born yesterday. Her backpack was in her lap, for crying out loud! I knew she was using the backpack to shield her cell phone from view. I let it slide for a few minutes and then in one practiced move she simultaneously put her backpack on the floor and slid her cell phone into her pocket. She asked if she could go to the restroom, and I said yes. In essence, she probably had to text someone about where they were going to sit at lunchtime in the cafeteria. When she came back and started to place her backpack on her lap again I told her to put her cell phone away…that, even though I’m old I’m not entirely clueless. I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck! In fact, I was once gifted in the art of sneakiness!

In a different class I confiscated three cell phones- placed them on the teacher’s desk for the rest of class- because one was posting on Facebook and two others were playing video games. Here’s the thing about a student using his cell phone to play a video game in class! Others become interested in watching him play the game. There becomes this little audience behind the student! It’s not bad behavior, just behavior that students know is not allowed in class.

The two students who were playing video games ratted out the girl who was posting on Facebook. I hadn’t noticed her!

A study conducted by the psychology department of UCLA on a group of sixth graders concluded that students who were deprived of all digital media for a few days did much better in recognizing emotions than students who were allowed access of digital media. One researcher made the comment that a student can’t learn emotional cues from a screen like he can from face-to-face interaction.

Digital media has its benefits, but, like anything that is consumed too much, it has become destructive. It’s like Lay’s Potato Chips…you can’t eat just one…and suddenly you real;ize that half the bag is gone! MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle agrees with how our digital addiction effects other things. In her 2015 book Reclaiming Conversation she makes the argument that cell phones are greatly affecting people’s ability to have deep conversations. She says that 89% of Americans took out a cell phone during their last social interaction, and 82% say that it resulted in a deteriorating of the conversation they were in.

A friend of mine who manages a hair salon told me that she instituted a digital devices ban for her employees when they are working. She had noticed that their focus wasn’t on the customer entering the store, but rather on their cell phones. They fought her tooth and nail on the ban, but now are realizing how much more interaction they are having with the person whose business they need in order for the store to stay in business and continue handing them pay checks.

Back to middle school! Let me tell you! Students think that substitute teachers are essentially clueless and won’t pick up on their device activity. But you know something? I’ve been there many, many years ago. Oh, it wasn’t a cell phone used in forbidden ways, but rather “the passing of notes” in class. I could pass notes with the best of them and not be discovered. Back in the day this Wolfe was a sly fox!

What Would Jesus…Text?

January 14, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        January 13, 2016

                              

I’m not high tech, even though I have devices that give people the illusion that I am. My cell phone gets used more for playing “Words With Friends” than it does for actually talking to people. That’s about as high tech as I get.

But I do seem to be texting more these last few months. Yesterday I was texting back and forth with a young man who asked me if I was familiar with the Thomas a’ Kempis book The Imitation of Christ. Today a text was received about a prayer concern. A few days ago my sister sent me a text with a picture of my dad holding a fruitcake that she had made for him. Every once in a while I get a “scripture text” text.

My brain gets thinking about Jesus in our day and what he would do and not do in various situations. So, obviously, I began wondering about what Jesus would text? Would he “LOL” often?

Perhaps he’d text Levi, the tax collector, with a simple “Dinner?” message. Before Martha could get to him about her brother, Lazarus, he could work his fingers on the keypad with a calming “He will rise again!”

I envision Jesus keeping his message simple, but powerful. In the midst of a stressed-out day I can hear the ping of the message coming in and seeing the words on the screen, “Peace be with you!”

When I’m feeling worthless and full of doubt I’m sure he would send me the words “Blessed are you!”

    When the world is not making sense, and there is heartache and tragedy he would most assuredly text me “Praying for me!” I’ve sent those words many times to others as they’ve wrestled with life situations. Admittedly I’ve sometimes said them because I had nothing else that I could say; and sadly, I’ve sometimes sent them without the commitment to do what I say. I know, however, that Jesus would stand behind those few words and kneel in the depth of them.

For those times when I start towards disconnection he’d would text me that John 15 reminder, “Abide in me!” And for the times when the crashing waves of life are towering over me, the words would come: “Have faith!”

     What would Jesus text? Simple, life-changing, foundational words that would convey glimpses of the sacred way.

Gutenbergers and Googlers

April 17, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   April 17, 2012

Recently I was cooking steaks on the outdoor grill. The problem was that it was dark outside (that often happens at night!), and our deck light wasn’t giving me much help. The flames from the gas grill brought some light…to the bottom side of the steaks…but when light shines towards you it does nothing to reveal what the object looks like on the side you can see.

Carol saw my quandary, and she comes outside with her cell phone.

Hey! I need more light, not a Sprint techie!”

She then turns her cell phone into a flashlight and instantly reveals that the steaks need some more time.

What?”

It’s getting more and more amazing what kind of apps you can get for your cell phone. At Starbucks there is a free app card each week. You just take the card, enter in the code on your iTunes account, and download the app to your phone. I can now play Scrabble, Angry Birds, watch a movie, read a book, check the news, and text all my “friends” to let them know I’m drinking a cup of Italian Roast.

The point is that we are in a crunch period in the church between two cultures, the Gutenbergers and the Googlers. Leonard Sweet, in his new book Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival, makes some clear distinctions between the two separated generations. “Gutenbergers” are “into the word.” No, I’m not talking about the Bible, although they do use it. I’m talking about the printed text, the hard copy.

Googlers are into TGIF! If you just translated those capital letters with the phrase “Thank God Its Friday!”, you are probably a “Gutenberger.” If you filled in the blanks of T_G_I_F_ with “Text, Google, iPhone, and Facebook” you are probably more of a “Googler.”

If the pastor says to look up Mark 2:21-23 and you reach for the Bible in the pew rack you’re most likely a Gutenberger. If you reach for your cell phone you are either a Googler, or trying to become one.

The challenge for “the church” is to realize that the Ephesians 4 passage about there being ‘one body and one Spirit” is a call to not cultural division, but the treasuring of different people in different place with different perspectives and different journeys…but one Lord!

“Gutenbergers” tend to be pushier and more determined. Worship services become turf wars about music and length and dress styles. But “Gutenbergers” are also resilient and persistent. “Googlers” tend to need others to get them through, to journey with them. “Gutenbergers” have a “John Wayne” trait.

“Gutenbergers” view the constant texting of “Googlers” as needless drivel and a sign of idle hands with nothing to do. “Googlers” see “text” as a verb and a crucial part of deepening relationships. It is the equivalent of my Uncle Milliard sitting on a bench with some other men in front of the county courthouse on a summer afternoon, in terms of us kids at the time, “Not doing anything!” The difference is that “Googlers” can “sit” with any of their friends at any moment even though they are separated by thousands of miles.

The point is that both cultures need each other. The first group that has a tendency to say “We were here first!” needs to hear . . . really hear the second group’s response “We are here now.” Exclamation mark ends the first group’s sentence, but a simple period finishes the second group’s response.

The alternative is to keep the two cultures separate and allow the fear to build . . . to build suspicions about each other . . . and become convinced that neither “Gutenbergers” nor “Googlers” can learn anything from one another.