Too Many Screens

April 15th, 2011
Photo © Andy Ihnatko | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

So there I was, watching TV (Sportscenter) while replying to a text on my phone (about sports). And surfing the web ( Then I saw the ridiculousness of this scene. Watching TV, texting and surfing the web, all at once. Had I owned an iPad, that would have likely been on as well, and probably on a sports site, given the scenario.

But seriously. The screens in my life are getting out of hand.

I have a slight problem of coveting, especially when it comes to technological gadgets. My mind is already working on how I can rationalize an iPad purchase. (We’re moving to an apartment that’s a bit further away from the church, therefore I'd have to commute by bicycle or walk two miles to church. Carrying a laptop will be heavy. Oh boo hoo, Joe has to carry a laptop. Yea I know. But an iPad would be a perfect travel companion. Not too heavy. And I can do all the necessary basics on the iPad. So yea.)

Have you noticed how much screen time dominates your life? Perhaps you’re working and surfing the web at the same time. Studying and texting at the same time. Eating and watching TV at the same time. Watching a movie at the theater and texting at the same time, and becoming a distraction to everyone there, because every time you text, the phone lights up and everyone's attention goes to the little light that just came on. And we all resist the urge to throw something at you, or grab your phone and throw it, to the applause of everyone in the theater. I mean for the sake of Peter, put the darn phone away!

The way technology has advanced is amazing. You can now watch a TV show and have a Twitter conversation with the host of the show. You have access to breaking news wherever you are.

But our desire to constantly stay connected to the Internet can negatively impact our real human connections; connections we were created and designed for.

It seems the more connected we are to our gadgets, the less human to human interaction we get. Let's say I call a teenager from the youth group. They probably won't answer the phone. But if I text them, they'll reply instantly. We’re becoming more and more impersonal in person and more and more personal via a machine.

After reading an Entertainment Weekly article, I recently decided to limit my attention to one screen at a time. I don’t know how plausible and doable this is for me, but it's something I desperately need to do. My screen time is affecting me and dominating my life in ways I don’t want it to. I’ve been reading so many blog posts and online articles that my not-yet-read books are collecting dust. And I really want to read them... feeling the paper... and writing in the margins. Not on an iPad.

My screen time is affecting my health. I’d rather stay glued to the TV or the web instead of going outside and taking a walk, playing ball, working out…

The screens have also had an effect on my relationship with God. With all those screens on all at once, at best, God gets only part of my attention.

While I may not be able to cut the screens out of my life completely, I can try (really hard) to limit myself to one screen at a time. It’s something that my life will thank me for in the long run.

I’m sure I'm not the only one with this problem. And I’m sure that one screen at a time will be a constant struggle. I’m sad to admit just how much of a struggle it will probably be.

I'll end my rambling with a Jesus Juke, ”if only we were all connected to Jesus the way we're connected to the web through our gadgets…”

One screen at a time…

Joseph Yoo is pastor of youth and spiritual formation at Valencia United Methodist Church in Valencia, CA. He blogs at Step by Step. (Photo Credit: Andy Ihnatko | Flickr)

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