We don’t even know her name. She’s simply known as Lot’s wife, in both the Old and New Testaments. The tale is familiar, as Lot, his wife, and their daughters were told to flee for their lives and they would be spared the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as long as they didn’t look back.

But Lot’s wife looked back and literally became the salt of the earth.

It’s easy to chalk that up to “just her.” Even though I’m not a farmer, I get the point Jesus was making when he said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Pillar of salt. Not fit for the kingdom of God. No sugar coating there. Let’s not kid ourselves that we can go two directions at once. In both examples, a person was to go in one direction but looked back and it cost them so much more than a mere glance.

I’m not running from a city or working in a field, so what do these passages have to do with me? With you?

It has always been an option to be in one place without fully being present, yet modern technology has upped the ante; we can turn back or remove our hand from the plow in ways that even a mere ten years ago weren’t options. Chapter four in Jen Hatmaker’s 7: a mutiny against excess delves hard and fast into the death grip that media has on many of us. Ipad, Wii, Xbox, Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, Hulu, Netflix, Apps, downloads, internet speed, gaming, and skype. It’s kind of mind-boggling (remember when Boggle was a fun game that involved real shaking of real cubes and could be really frustrating?).

If Jesus was translating his response into our lingo it might go something like this: “No one who tweets while worshipping is fit for the kingdom of God.” OR “Any one who gets more upset over an internet connection than poverty is not fit for the kingdom of God.” OR “If you travel and are more concerned about clever posts and pictures than connecting with my people, you are not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jen acknowledges the reality that life now requires technology, but for the month she and her family fast from gaming, tweetiing, facebook, any internet that is not work related and any texting that is superfluous commenting on life. If she saw someone in a hideous outfit, she had to keep that thought to herself.

As someone who lives at a distance from friends, family and many colleagues, it is hard to imagine my life with no technology. Been there, done that. Like this better.

Just as with possessions, I don’t believe that media is inherently evil. But the potential to misuse it is something to watch and, more than that, be honest with ourselves about. When people move to China we talk about being physically and emotionally present in the same space. “I can see that your body is in China, but I can’t make your heart, interests, or investment be here. If you want to work here, but spent most of your time on Facebook and Skype, I can’t stop you. But I can tell you that you will really end up being a disjointed, fractured version of the person you were meant to be.”

I enjoy media, and the blessings and connections it brings. It is nice to get a call from my mom that Dad is taking a sister to the hospital because she is in pain and at the same time receive a text from another sister. Media allows us to be together. However, I’ve also been at a meal where the person I was eating with seemed to be much more engaged with someone they were texting than the real live dinner companion. Though with someone, I felt alone.

Jen found that as she unplugged from an electric life, it created space for more face-to-face interactions to occur, between her children, her family, and with God.

That’s the heart of the issue. Am I walking towards someone or task intentionally, or am I looking back and not offering the gift of presence to those around me.

Even if you haven’t read the chapter, when it comes to media what helps you to keep it in balance? Where do you feel greatest tension about media?

Amy

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  1. Amy,
    Great take on this chapter on media.

    I agree media isn’t evil, but it’s our human nature to take everything to the extreme. The smaller, faster, better approach applies to most things and why not media?

    At times it’s hard for me to keep some forms of media in balance.TV who cares? But when you write, you are in front of the computer, you are almost required to visit others, tweet, email….and on and on. These forms of media are helping me meet goals I’ve set for myself. However, it’s kind of like dirty dishes, even though you wash everything clean, another pile quickly takes over.

    Goal I’ve set: I’m not on the computer when my girls are awake. This is really hard and lately I’ve been breaking it, but it forces me to not run and check my email in the middle of conversatins about hula hoop or babies.

    Now, this entire media chapter has interesting timing because very recently I attended a training on the new Chrome Books all of our school kids will have next year. Most thought, this was a great idea, come on now, a computer for every kid.

    Me? I thought about our kids already being so plugged in and teched-up and now it’s even happening at school as more classes are online and schools are inching their way to paperless. What about all the great skills kids learn from each other and interacting?

    It’s a lot to think about.

    Anyway, thanks for the write. Off to read your post on Chapter 3.

    • Amy May 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      In my 10th grade class we are looking at how the media has changed books and the tension between the rich having even more access to information and the poor having even less. Sigh. There are no easy answers.

      I find that I go through seasons of good limits with media and then other times I wake up, and like a crack addict head to check email before going to the bathroom. That is so not right!

    • Loraine May 24, 2012 at 6:28 am - Reply

      Wow very convicted about not being on the computer while my kids are awake. I am going to have to implement that I think. Tough for sure, but wow, that is good!

  2. HopeUnbroken May 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    oh, how this was a tough chapter! i’ve never thought of our family as particularly media-obsessed. i mean, really, we just got a Wii a year ago!!! we don’t have cable or satellite or whatever else is out there. just our standard stations that are available. BUUUUTTTTTT. . . . . (notice how drawn out that was???) there are still so many things pulling at us!!! “Computer time.” As my oldest has finished her first year of high school, so much of her work is being done on the computer, then add her “social” time on there, and it doesn’t take long before you look around and realize that everyone’s “happily” engaged. . . in front of a machine.
    and, like Amy S., there are certain things i have delved into with technology in order to accomplish certain goals, but it oftentimes sends my head spinning! and i think, am i just too old? :-) but, no, i think it’s affecting the younger generations, too, they just don’t realize it.
    i loved the studies she cited in this chapter about the effects of electronics on the brain. and what it’s doing to us, the responses it creates in us. definitely food for thought as we try to control this very helpful, but potentially harmful beast called media/entertainment.
    do i love what technology offers? absolutely. am i often distracted by it? oh, yeah. is it a struggle to stay connected in the face of the screen that beckons during the day? ummm. . . yes. it doesn’t verbally demand anything from me, it usually obeys, and it doesn’t whine, complain, or try to manipulate me. it’s no wonder so many people have given up on human relationships. they’re just plain hard–especially in the face of something that seems so easy. emphasis there on the word ‘seems’.
    great thoughts on this chapter, amy!
    steph

    • Amy May 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Steph, I find that I read my kindle books differently than a paper book. Anyone else notice this? It’s harder for me to focus on kindle books and I skim more than with a paperbook — I think my brain processes it differently too. Hmmm. So many things to think about!

  3. Katie May 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I love this sentence of yours “Just as with possessions, I don’t believe that media is inherently evil. But the potential to misuse it is something to watch and, more than that, be honest with ourselves about.” I don’t think I could have said it better! Media does great things for us as a military family since we are separated a lot, but it so easy for me to get sucked in my facebook especially. It’s like a vortex! So I really need to be honest with myself if it is being helpful in connecting or if I’m just using to waste time or avoid something else.

    I actually thought you were going somewhere different with the Lot’s wife “looking back” thing and were going to liken it to not appropriate leaving past parts of your life that you should be, but constantly looking back. Like not severing the ties with ex-boyfriends and continuously “looking back” via facebook, or not leaving old friends electronically and instead “looking back” by living vicariously through their party pictures…things like that. Because I think those things can be tempting too with social media!

    Anyway, love your take on this and I think it’s definitely important to set boundaries. Which is something I’m really not good at, but working on.

    • Amy May 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Ah, looking back in the sense of things in our past. Missed that! But now that you say it, I can see it! Love that there can be so many takes on even one sentence!

  4. Jen Hatmaker May 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Great discussion, girls. Last night, I JUST finished writing the media week for the 7 Bible study. My head is swimming. Media can be so good and so bad. It seems to me the keys are: discernment (what are we taking in?), discernment (how much are we plugged in?), discernment (is my involvement in social media healthy?), and discernment (am I less connected to people in real life than I am online?). In many ways, media has changed my life for great good forever. It’s here to stay, so I need to learn to navigate it well. Love to you readers and discussers (word? no? ok then). Thanks for wrestling through Scripture and challenging paradigms with me!

    • Amy May 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Jen, thanks for stopping by and the shout out! Discernment is great rallying cry/plumb line. Amy for all of us

  5. cbuxton03 May 24, 2012 at 2:50 am - Reply

    Wow – you just opened my mind with the Lot’s wife comparison. The distractions, the attempt to look two ways at once – that is exactly what I fight with social media. Because for me, it is all social. I no longer have the excuse of “this is for work,” – it might be for a volunteer project, but still . . . I need to be present with people, not glued to my phone. It is embarrassing when I really think about it. As summer approaches, it seems like the perfect time to give it all a rest. Thanks for the way you’ve inspired me here.

    • Amy May 24, 2012 at 5:06 am - Reply

      Courtney, this is one of the reasons I don’t have a smart phone (part is cost) but a bigger part is that I don’t trust myself to not be on it more than I should. There is a reason I don’t walk around carrying a plate of brownies :).

  6. Gina May 24, 2012 at 5:26 am - Reply

    While this was a challenging chapter, I enjoyed it because it provided some relatively simple solutions to media obsession. Immediately after finishing it, I turned off the notifications on my iPhone and made a decision to only work on one window at a time on the computer. No more leaving Gmail or Facebook open. Already – just today! – I’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather, spending time with my kids and enjoying more prayer and meditation. Wow.

  7. Loraine May 24, 2012 at 6:26 am - Reply

    Visiting from Amy’s. I agree media is inherently evil and it is here to stay. The problem comes in when I spend more time thinking up a witty Facebook status than I do on helping those in need. I did not unplug for a month, but I NEED to be better at unplugging. Why? Because it by default makes me more present and face to face with those in my real life. Thanks for the post!!

    • Amy May 24, 2012 at 7:19 am - Reply

      “By default makes me more present.” Me too.

  8. Loraine May 24, 2012 at 6:27 am - Reply

    Oops, supposed to read “is NOT inherently evil” Funny how a little word changes a lot of meaning! :)

  9. Stephanie O'D May 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Yours words above, “you will become a disjointed, fractured version of the person you were meant to be” really struck me. That’s exactly how I feel when I get sucked into the media black hole. In a millions places, none of them all THAT important, yet it all seems to add up to urgency. Being at many people’s disposal at a ding or beep, every moment of everyday is fracturing. You’re reference to Lot’s wife and looking back, a very good description of what we do……
    Challenging book. Challenging chapter.

    • Amy May 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Check, and check! I think part of what God wants to do, it to reintegrate us. Again, it’s not that technology is bad, but I find that urgency you describe is often false yet I respond as if it were TRUE urgency. My wires are getting crossed!

  10. Loren Pinilis May 25, 2012 at 2:00 am - Reply

    There are so many things which can pull us in a direction other than God. I think social media has so many elements of pride, accomplishment, and relationship wrapped up in it that it’s especially prone to misuse.

    • Amy May 25, 2012 at 5:58 am - Reply

      Loren, I found myself nodding as I read your comment.

  11. Barb Raveling May 25, 2012 at 5:48 am - Reply

    This has become a real temptation for me now that I’m blogging and writing. Because I spend so much of my time writing, the internet is right there and it’s easy to waste time on it.

    Sometimes I unplug the little internet box when I write. It’s surprising how even though it takes only 10 seconds to plug it in, it feels like about 20 times less of an interruption not having it plugged in. Mentally, my mind is also in off position.

    When I’m not writing, I try not to have the computer in the same room as me (I write on the laptop so this is easy).

    Still working on managing it all – it’s strange – I was never tempted by television. I could turn it off at a drop of the hat, but the internet is so much harder. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have texting and an i-phone at least!

    I do have an ipod and just submitted an eating app to Apple today – hoping it gets approved!

    • Amy May 25, 2012 at 5:57 am - Reply

      Keep us posted Barb!

  12. skmusings June 2, 2012 at 1:17 am - Reply

    Great thoughts! Just the challenge I needed today! Thank you so much for posting!

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