“My name is Soo Inn. I am an info junkie.” When my internet service provider (ISP) is down I manifest cold turkey symptoms. I call the ISP office demanding to know when they will be back online. I back up my main ISP with two more ISPs.
I know precisely what David Brooks is saying when he writes in the April 30, 2001 issue of Newsweek (International Edition):
Never being out of touch means never being able to get away. But Wireless Man’s problem will be worse than that. His brain will have adapted to the tempo of wireless life. Every 15 seconds there is some new thing to respond to. Soon he has this little rhythm machine in his brain. He does everything fast. He answers e-mails fast and sloppily. He’s bought the fastest machines, and now the idea of waiting for something to download is a personal insult. His brain is operating at peak RPMs…. He’s addicted to the perpetual flux of the information networks. He craves his next data fix.
Brooks goes on to point out one key result of living like that–the loss of creativity: “The problem with all this speed, and the frantic energy that is spent using time efficiently, is that it undermines creativity. After all, creativity is usually something that happens while you’re doing something else…” (I can readily affirm this. Some of my best ideas have come while I am either drifting in or out of my naps.)
The digital divide means that most of the inhabitants of planet earth are not in any real danger of becoming info junkies anytime soon. Unfortunately many of the movers and shakers of our day are online. This is scary. A cursory glance of the days” news will tell us straight away, that our most intractable problems do not arise from a failure of technology or the lack of information. In this age as in all ages, our greatest problems arise from failures of the human spirit, propelled by pride, greed, fear and hatred. Or people opt for paths of destruction because they believe it is the only alternative to a life of numbing meaninglessness.
More than ever we need creative solutions. Wise solutions. Solutions with heart. Divine solutions. Where are God’s people? Most of us are hooked up and drugged on info like the rest of the connected world. When Paul tells us in Romans 12:2: “Conform no longer to the pattern of this present world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds. Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect” (REB), we assume he is referring primarily to content. So our antennae are up when we encounter stuff like pornography. But the pattern of the this present world is more insidious. It”s not just what we think. The danger is whether we think at all.
Perhaps it is time for new orders of monks and nuns. We will set apart some from our midst who will commit themselves to ”wasting time creatively”, discerning the mind of God for the pressing issues of our day. The rest of us may just have to make the effort of creating and maintaining spaces in our lives where we are unhooked and unhurried. How else can we hear the still small voice?