Compulsively Connected?

This summer I’m re-sharing some content from my earliest days of blogging. If you are staring at your phone right now, I think you’ll be able to relate to this one!


There is one thing all fitness instructors want you to know:  We don’t really want you to talk during a class.

There, now you know the truth.  

And, as much as we don’t want you chit-chatting your way through a workout, we really don’t want you doing something else: using your phone!

Unless you are a doctor-on-call or the President, I really don’t want you talking or texting while I’m trying to get you into shape.  I’m just saying…

So, today’s fitness tip is, unless your phone is playing music to motivate you–leave it in your bag!

Don't be her!

Don’t be her!

What? Leave it in my bag.  But, what if someone needs me…I might miss something…What if….

I hear you and I understand.  I too am somewhat compulsive about being connected.  If you don’t think you’d describe yourself that way see if this pattern sounds familiar:

Stare at phone.  Index finger hits Facebook icon. Finger scrolls down. Hmmm. Nothing new here. Yawn. 

Switch to email.  No new messages. Back to Facebook. Agh. That was dumb, I just checked 15 seconds ago.

Twitter. Ah Ha! Oh no. Yawnsville there too.

Stare at apps on phone. Nothing stands out. Stare at internet app trying to remember what people searched for when that was all they had to entertain them.

Discover text messages. Open. Anyone I forgot to write back? Hmmm. No.  Anyone I should check in on?  Agh. I don’t really want to start a conversation right now.

Compulsively switch back to Facebook. Still nothing new. Duh. What did I expect? It’s now been 30 seconds.

Ahhh… Pinterest. Maybe you can amuse me.  Recipe, recipe, kid craft, wreath I’ll never be able to make, another recipe. Rats. I pinned that yesterday. Already at my last pins? Seriously? Where is everybody?

The truth is, I’d feel really silly sharing that if I wasn’t pretty sure that you do it (at least in some shape or form) too.

As different as we are on the outside…there are some things about us that are all the same.  One of them being our desire for connection and for intimacy.  We want to be known and to not be alone.  God made us all this way.  Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and other entrepreneurs responsible for all the ways technology connects us today tapped into this universal human trait and have made a killing on it.

On the surface I “feel” more connected then ever.  I’m linked, pinned, friended, texted, tweeted, tagged and followed.  I have status information on people I haven’t seen in 25 years.  I’ve seen their newborn babies, remodled bathrooms, kids’ birthday parties, vacation pictures, and dinner plates. Yet, I haven’t actually seen them in decades.  I know who’s having lunch where (and in some cases what they ordered), who’s got sick kids, who needs a manicure, and who’s crafty enough to do some of the cool stuff I pin.

When there are no updates, I develop a funky finger twitch — which seems to be happening more now as fewer and fewer people post to Facebook.  It’s an interesting phenomena actually — data shows that fewer and fewer people are posting. Yet, more and more people are checking Facebook 5 times a day (or much, much more).

So, the question I pose is: Why? Why are we spending a lot of time checking up on others (some refer to it as stalking) but not posting anything about ourselves?  I put this question on my Facebook page recently and got some interesting answers ranging from not having anything exciting enough to post to that’s what Twitter is for.

Here’s what I think.  I think the Facebook “high” is wearing off.  Yes, I said high.  I think it used to be that we could get a “buzz” from having ten people affirm our location, latest photo, or lament.  Now, sometimes it just feels kind of silly.  Mostly, I speculate, because we still crave real intimacy. We long for someone to really know us. And, although twelve or thirteen of my 359 friends know a lot more about me than is visible on my wall, my need for connection can not be sustained if Facebook is my only outlet. Even if 45 people like the picture I posted, I’m not any less lonely.

So, how do we love others in the era of false connections?  How do we protect ourselves from becoming ensnared in a false intimacy?  How do we check in with God as regularly (or more regularly) than we check on other’s statuses? (I can’t tell you the number of times I have thought I didn’t have time to pray but I know I commented on at least 5 different statuses!)

I think we have to prioritize.  I try to make sure I get my Bible reading and at least a minute or two of prayer time in (though I’m almost never alone) before I get sucked into checking Facebook and email. Sure, it’s hard. Sometimes I, just like a junky, wake up and have to start tapping on my silly phone.  So, I’ve realized if I don’t stop and click on my Bible app before 9am…it’s just not going to happen later in the day. And, alas, I will have “connected” with dozens of other “friends” while ignoring connection time with the Creator of the Universe.

Another idea…take the “false” connection of Facebook and turn it into a real connection.  I had a friend who lives in Canada who, about a year ago, called me about ten minutes after I posted a thinly veiled “I’m stressed and about to go over the edge” message as my status. I was touched beyond belief. She turned my day (and maybe month) around with her encouragement.  She could have just responded with “Bummer, sorry” or a nice, trite, “unlike”…but she didn’t. She took the time to care about me even though we haven’t seen each other in years.

What ideas do you have? Do you think all the false connections are impacting our real ones?  Are YOU compulsively connected?

8 Comments
  • John Bailey
    July 3, 2012

    I have talked this over with Eric and some other friends. The truth is because of our physical, psychological, and emotional construction we can never be “completly” connected to anyone on this Earth. There will always be barriers and minefields. Yet we have this overpowering desire for others to know us fully.(Ironic because we don’t even know ourselves fully.) So here we are; these little floating isolated bits of humanity trying desperately to latch on to anything that lets us ignore or hide our isolation for a little while. And the truth is there is only one who can, and does, know us that well. Paul’s assertion in 1 Corinthians that we will fully know, even as we are known is mind blowing. I can’t wait for that day because the loneliness of being human is sometimes more than I can bear.

    • Heather
      July 3, 2012

      Well said, John. It’s totally mind blowing to think we will fully know…Makes it seem all that much more intriguing how we will “know it all” in Heaven and yet how there will be no sadness. The Glory of God and His Son will be way too bright for the petty hang-ups from this first world to be a downer.

  • elsethenomad
    July 4, 2012

    This is perfect! Last week I deleted my Facebook for the summer, and suddenly I have ‘so much more time’! Then, like you said, I realized that I became obsessed with my phone and began checking Instagram and e-mail compulsively. I deleted the apps from my phone for the summer. I can’t believe how much more time I’ve been able to spend in the Word and in prayer. More like I can’t believe how much time I was spending doing pointless, empty things. Re-prioritize is exactly what I needed to do. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for the post 🙂

    • Heather
      July 4, 2012

      Wow – good for you!! I would probably need a detox program in order to be able to go so far as to delete the apps! 🙂 You need to be giving lessons on this — not me!! 🙂
      But, you are so right – time suckers. I tried to spend a few days of our vacation “free” of these distractions. I’ve also realized that sometimes it’s just plain stressful to follow everyone’s lives…

      • elsethenomad
        July 4, 2012

        ha, I know! I found myself feeling sort of depressed. I was like, this is just ridiculous. The break has been nice! Try it for a day 🙂

  • elsethenomad
    July 4, 2012

    This is perfect! Last week I deleted my Facebook for the summer, and suddenly I have ‘so much more time’! Then, like you said, I realized that I became obsessed with my phone and began checking Instagram and e-mail compulsively. I deleted the apps from my phone for the summer. I can’t believe how much more time I’ve been able to spend in the Word and in prayer. More like I can’t believe how much time I was spending doing pointless, empty things. Re-prioritize is exactly what I needed to do. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for the post 🙂

  • Sloan Quinn
    July 24, 2012

    Very well put. I’m a university student right now,and I’ve commented (to real people) many times than in a glance around the quad, you many times see more people with headphones on, tapping away at their phones than you see people having actual conversation. We didn’t have that when I was a kid, and I guess I just never picked up the habit…I think I might be becoming addicted to WP, though…

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