I love technology. I love being able to communicate with friends and family in a matter of seconds at any time. I love keeping up with what is happening in the lives of those I love through Facebook, text, Twitter, etc. I know how my friends in NYC and Texas and Honduras are all doing. And I haven’t even left the house! And don’t even get me started on online shopping. I love it! I don’t have to drive all over town and try to hunt for something that may or may not be at the store. I don’t have to make a shopping list that I then forget, and arrive back at home with only half of what I meant to get.
I also love a good drama on TV. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and many others have an almost endless supply of interesting shows. My son loves Kid Safe YouTube and learns all kinds of things from it. At any one given moment we have more information at our fingertips than ever before, at increasingly impressive speeds! But with that influx of information the world is getting louder. And it’s harder to filter out what is important and what is just distractions.
I looked around the table at dinner the other night. And this is what I saw. My son was watching his Ipad. My husband was reading the news on his phone. And I was reading a novel on my tablet. We hadn’t said more than a few words to each other beyond saying Grace. This happens more frequently than I like to think about. I’ve always had a weakness for reading while I eat. And I see now that my family is following my example, and burrowing deep into their devices.
The crazy thing is that all these things are good. They are convenient, and when used wisely, instruct and entertain, and keep us out of trouble. But I had the strangest experience the other day that made me think that maybe we need to be device-free more often than we are. It was one of those dreams just as you are falling asleep, where you know you are dreaming but everything is incredibly vivid.
In my mind’s eye I saw myself standing in a remote and beautiful meadow. The sky was clear, there were trees and flowers everywhere. And I was talking to God in prayer, and easily hearing His replies. It was cool!
And then a TV screen appeared floating in the air to one side. It was followed by another, and then another, until there was so much noise I couldn’t hear God any longer. I couldn’t see the meadow. All I could see and hear were the various screens and their messages. I covered my ears and closed my eyes, but could not get back to that meadow. To me this was a message about what was happening in our home, with our family.
There is a scripture that keeps coming to my mind lately, in conjunction with this mental vision I had. It’s found in Alma 34:32 and says: “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”
Are the things I’m doing for my family, and for myself, helping prepare us to meet God? Do I really need to watch every episode of that one show I love? Or do I really need to read all three books in that series? Or are they all just distractions? Personally I get so into reading that the house can fall down around me at times. So I have to go on ‘book fasts’ when there is a lot going on, or my family gets neglected.
We recently had General Conference, which was a wonderful weekend full of Godly messages. I learned I need to love my neighbor better. I need to help my family focus on the spiritual side of things. And I need to be more careful with the media I choose. So that the screens in our home aren’t becoming portals that spill the black sludge of spiritual darkness into our home.
Instead they must be outlets to bring in greater light and love into our family. Sadly, this means they need to be off more than they are on. We have come to a crucial time when it’s just too easy to dive into media and not emerge for air for days at a time. But how can we prepare to meet God when we are so immersed in Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube? Moderation is key, and with media these days less really is more. I am saying this to myself as much as to anyone else. Because I can’t afford to let the noise drown out the Lord’s voice.
About Patty Sampson
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.