Tuesday, 07 April 2020 16:00

I Hope We're Never the Same

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Before COVID-19 spread worldwide, ushering in arguably the greatest global crisis since World War II, I was already addicted to my phone. But today, things are WAY worse. 

With face-to-face meetings no longer an option, everything has gone online. Like so many people, my work has greatly benefited from modern technology, and yet what previously felt like a blessing, increasingly feels like a curse. 

I didn’t seem to mind the addiction as much when I at least had a choice in the matter, but now that I don’t, I feel overwhelmed.

Am I the only one? 

I’ve heard it said that one of the by-products of social distancing is that people will become so accustomed to working remotely, and the supporting systems will become so sophisticated, that we will never go back. 

I’m just a few weeks into this experiment, and I think the opposite is true. 

Before this all started, the trend was already in the direction of isolation. More and more people were trading face to face communities for online relationships. 

Today, we spend hours staring at our devices; it’s become so ubiquitous, we don’t even seem to notice. 

The smartphone is probably the biggest culprit. It changed the internet from a destination, to an omnipresent reality; always on, and with you everywhere. Restaurants are filled with people who are ‘alone together,’ staring at their phones rather than talking to each other. And long gone are the days of standing in line at the grocery store, simply gazing off into the distance. 

In a weird twist of fate, this global pandemic has made our “addiction of choice” a necessity we can’t avoid, and maybe it’s teaching us something important along the way. 

I definitely have some things to learn. 

In an attempt to restore my sanity, I silenced my phone for a full 48 hours over the weekend. No emails, no social media, nothing. I hadn’t done this in years, and it took a global crisis to make me realize how much I’ve really needed it.

It was a struggle at first, but soon my mind stopped racing, my hand stopped instinctively reaching for my pocket, and it felt great. We loaded up our kids and took a long drive, we went on a nature hike, and for over an hour, I just watched my son bike. When I had nothing to do, I just sat there and looked outside or thought about whatever came to mind. It was simple and it was completely needed. 

For the sake of my mental health, this will become a weekly routine. 

If this situation has taught me anything already, it’s that the online world is a lousy substitute for the real thing, and that virtual community will never compete with flesh and blood relationships. 

My hope is that after having been forced into seclusion to protect our physical health, we will place new importance on togetherness once the restrictions lift. These uncertain times have made it clearer than ever that we were made for relationships. Food and water might keep us alive, but that doesn’t mean we are truly living. 

People keep praying for things to go back to normal. My prayer, at least for my life, is that they will never be the same. 

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is the Director of Come&Live! and is the younger son of David and Jodi Pierce. Come&Live!’s vision is to create a worldwide mission community that will provoke and inspire Christian artists to use their God-given creativity to revolutionize the world for Jesus.
Instagram: @nzbenpierce
Twitter: @benalanpierce

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