Thursday, October 20, 2005

Virtual Presence/Absence

Douglas Groothius says, "Reality demands an attentiveness that multi-tasking does not allow. Human beings especially tend to be opaque and mysterious beings, whose inner recesses are not easily discerned. We can push a key and make the computer or cell phone do something. We cannot push a key and understand or help change a human being. That kind of being requires more attention, more patience, more suffering. This is because we are made in God’s image and likeness, yet we are fallen and disoriented by sin’s manifold manifestations. We are sinners in need or reorientation according to truth (that which describes reality). Some of the most important truths about ourselves and others and about God himself are not easily fathomed—or when fathomed, they are not easily remembered. The discerning of these truths requires attentiveness, patience, and studiousness. These truths demand, as Pascal noted, being quiet in our own room without distractions or diversions. Conversations concerned about truth and virtue require the engagement of two people who are attending, respecting, and responding to one another without mediation."
I heartily agree that multitasking is the enemy of giving attention/contemplation. Is the fault in the technology, though? Are face-to-face conversations not "mediated" in any way?
For a dissenting opinion, see the paper by Ulises Ali Mejias on "Social Agency and the Intersection of Communities and Networks."