Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Little Bit Of Red

Introducing a new sermon series:

I feel that lately, I've had this certain argument so much more often: The Issue of using Twitter and Facebook and maintaining a blog. I don't know if I'm just completely naive (which is a valid possibility), or if others just have a skewed view of me and my approach to technology. Let me begin by clearing the air:
I love technology. I embrace technology. I am aware that technology has the potential to steal one's time. I am aware that technology in unhealthy amounts can cause a person's life to become unbalanced . . . however, I believe the same about unhealthy amounts of fast food (ie: the new KFC heart attack "sandwich"), tanning, and pretty much just about anything in life. If it's an unhealthy amount, it throws ya' off.

For the record, I am not writing this as an attack. I am merely sharing my thoughts openly about something that has been coming up in my life sooooo much recently. In fact, you might be surprised just how often this topic comes up in my various circles of friends that I have here. There have been some who seem to think that I have an unhealthy amount of technology in my life, due to the fact that I have a Facebook, a Twitter, a Blog, and a Smart Phone. I suppose I may come across to some as a vapid tech junkie, but I think that those who know me best would say that I only add things to my life that I know I can maintain and that I think are beneficial. I also think they would say that I know when enough is enough and I'm able to say no when something is enough—it's been a long hard road to get to the point where I can do that, but I feel I'm getting better and better at it.

Last Wednesday, I was challenged by a friend of mine to go an entire day without using my phone, laptop, or the internet. He had also recently shared about a radio broadcast that NPR did about how radio waves from cell phones will over time cause our society to become more and more immoral. He mentioned that I should take time out to go outside and read a book. He said I should spend all day Saturday tech-free. I accepted the challenge—it's not too far from my ordinary Saturday. The only downfall was that instead of doing my writing on a computer, I had to jot down notes on a notebook that I had to re-type into my computer today. The challenge was most likely meant to get me to re-evaluate my view of technology and its power in my life. If that was in fact the challenge, then it was a success on both ends. I rose to the challenge and was able to re-evaluate my view on technology. The following are the thoughts I had throughout that day about my viewpoint on technology:


I get the feeling that many of my friends here, though they know me on a certain level, are unsure of my ability to maintain a healthy life sans technology. I get the feeling that people think I just live on Facebook and Twitter—also, that these social networking tools are leading to the corruption of the world around us, when in reality, technology is not to blame—racism, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance are the true culprits. Would tragedies be happening on a daily basis without social networking? OF COURSE THEY WOULD. We just have the inconvenient convenience of knowing about them sooner thanks to technology.

For the record, I have a blog because I am a writer. By nature, I am a writer. I'm guessing that either because no one has bothered to ask or because they know but don't see it as anything of consequence,that me being a writer who is unpublished makes any defense I have futile. But I am a writer—published or unpublished. It is my passion and it is something I work hard to perfect. As a writer, the daily habit of writing keeps your perspective fresh. It allows you to keep those muscles moving. When I go out to coffee shops on Saturdays, I'm not just wasting my life on Facebook, I'm using the internet to research things for the stories I'm writing and I'm using applications on my laptop to log scenes and stats and other useful information. Also, I write songs. I use my computer to store the lyrics and thoughts so I'm not constantly bringing 10 spiral notebooks with me everywhere I go. The proof is here—all the songs I have stored in my MacJournal:

I promise I'm not just wasting my life on the internet doing nothing but playing internet games

I also have a blog because I have a family and I have friends in various places across the US. I can't spend hours upon hours posting about my day on each of their Facebook walls. THAT would be unhealthy. Instead, I write here. And if they feel like reading about my day, they can. If not, they can ignore this blog. The choice is theirs. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this blog has helped me stay connected to friends and family in such valuable ways. For instance, when I post things here, especially videos, my mom shows my niece, and all of a sudden the miles don't seem too far for her. We're connected.

I use Facebook and Twitter to stay connected. A few weeks ago, two of my old small group students were in a car crash. The youngest, Rachel, was very close to me. She has often told me how much I mean to her and every time I'm in Austin, we get a chance to connect and share lots of hugs. She is such an amazing little lady. Sadly enough, I wouldn't have known about the accident if it had not been for Facebook and Twitter. I would not have know what happened, or that anything DID happen. Through Facebook, I was able to find out which hospital she was in and what room she was in and thanks to the connectedness I have on those social networking sites, this moment of love was able to happen on my last visit home:

Me & Rachel doing our "Flying Marshmallow" sign

I know it sounds so dramatic when I say that, but it's so incredibly true. The chain of events that led me to this hospital room, were all thanks to Facebook and Twitter. I cannot even BEGIN to explain to you the chords that were struck in my heart when I went in to see Rachel and her eyes lit up; and the feeling I felt when Rachel's mom turned away the PT nurses and told them to come back later because this was a very special moment for Rachel. I'm still not sure how I was holding back tears, because inside my heart, they were definitely flowing freely. I am entirely thankful for the technology that led me to that hospital room, to sit next to a girl that couldn't stop smiling even though she had gone through the ringer of surgeries and survived an insane car crash.

As far as the cell phone's ability to corrupt my morality, I'm on the fence. I'm sure that in some crazy way, shape or form it could possibly maybe have access to my morality. I'm not quite sure how, but I'm also not sure I care about it either. For now, I'm pretty much FOR the use of my cell phone, again in moderation . . . which is what I use it in now anyway. It offers me a way to stay connected to my family and my friends. I understand how intimidating it can be, seeing as how it is a "Smart Phone" and those come with apps that can be seemingly threatening. However, I'm grateful. Because of that phone, I can know at the touch of a screen how far away my bus is or if I just missed it. I can also get from one destination to another when I'm lost (which happens more often than you would think). And furthermore on the topic of my cell phone, I cannot tell you how thankful and grateful I am for those times when I've had an extremely exhausting day and I look down to see my best friend Sarah calling me from West Virginia to say hi and to listen to how my day has been going, and to challenge me and to give me a great laugh or to share with me things that are going on in her life. Because of those moments, our friendship outlasts the distance between Seattle and West Virginia.

In all honesty, most of the conversations I've had with people about this issue have left me feeling like a kid at the dinner table. As if I'm not welcome to the "adult world." I admit, I see things differently and I may not do things the "way I should" or as a "proper lady" would. But I've never been proper. I challenge things. I challenge the status quo and I refuse to live a seemingly lifeless life. I spend my weekends outdoors, with friends, doing fun things. I dance at bus stops, I'm loud, and I don't mind wearing party hats to the grocery store, and sometimes I tweet about it! The fact that I fully embrace technology is not something I am ashamed of. And I don't believe that it is stealing my soul or threatening my morality. From the many conversations I've had about social networking and blogging, I've reached five solid conclusions:

1. Social networking, blogging, and use of other technology is not for everyone

2. The road to hell is not paved with technological devices

3. My use and embracing of technology does not make me less of a human being . . . when you use harsh tones and degrade me for using and embracing technology, I still feel its effects.

4. I love technology and embrace its ability to keep me connected to the people and things I love


Update: I realize that this is a rant, and it can come across as condescending. I am in no way trying to attack or criticize any one person. In my attempts to express the thoughts rambling on in my head, I wholeheartedly admit that my own selfish immaturity may have seeped through. Let me be the first to admit that I am NOT better than anyone. I have edited this so as to convey the true thoughts, without casting blame. The truth is, no one is to blame. We all have different viewpoints, mine is no less valid than anyone else's. My intent in this post is not to stir up dissension or confusion, but to put into writing what I have said over and over and over again in various conversations in order to bring myself closure. I realize that this may not have been the best place for it, since tone and sincerity is hard to convey in a format like this, but I won't remove this post. I need to be able to look back on things I've said or written and learn from them. This is me learning. Thanks for understanding. :D

That said, let's all laugh at that picture of Andrew for another moment—it's PURE GENIUS! ;D


Jessica D said...

I've been reading through a few of your blogs lately and I just want you to know that I enjoy them very much! You have such an interesting outlook on life that I love. Plus some of them make me laugh :)

amo (amanda) said...

Thank you SOOO much Jessica! I love that you take time to read them and I'm glad they are able to give you a good laugh from time to time :D Thanks for stopping by! :D

Alisa said...

Thanks so much for the willingness to share your life with us. Thank you for your openness and honesty. Thank you for the huge amount of love that you pour out through your technological devices:) I know that I have been involved in some of those conversations and I think I can safely speak on behalf of those who have been in those conversations. None of us think less of you b/c of your use of technology. I encourage you to speak to those who you may feel do think those things (especially if its me!). You are an incredibly amazing person. I truly respect and admire you for the balance you attain in your life. God has, is and will continue to use you tremendously in the lives of each and every person you interact with. I love you so much!

Kelley R. said...

That's an excellent photo. And this is an excellent blog.

Rock on with yo' bad self Mandy... If it weren't for technology we would never be able to stay connected. Viva tech.

Besides, pretty sure one irresponsible, scientifically ignorant journalist extrapolating ideas far beyond the scientific literature and his own intellectual capacity doth not a morality crisis make.

Illegitimus non carborundum.

Cory said...

Of all people I know you are the one who can balance the technology and "non technology" (I use quotes because things are technology that people dont consider, such as the wheel, the pen, books etc) in your life. You're awesome at that! Rock it!