From one of those lists that get forwarded around the Internet, here are several warning signs you may be a little too "connected:"
-- You try to enter your computer password on the microwave.
-- You have a list of 15 phone and pager numbers and e-mail addresses to reach your family of three.
-- You e-mail your kid in his room to tell him dinner is ready. He e-mails you back: "What's for dinner?"
In the future, predicts one business forecast, the Net will connect everyone through miniature units combining computer, telephone and other functions -- all integrated into your clothing. Sit down for this one, guys: Shopping will consist of "almost effortless thought-pattern ... requests."
That's old news for folks who grew up watching "The Jetsons" and reading science fiction. Sci-fi writers predicted brain-implanted, computer-chip telepathy decades ago.
The question is: Do you really need to be that connected?
Disclaimer: This is not another anti-technology diatribe. The Internet may be the greatest new communication tool since the printing press -- certainly since the introduction of radio and television. Its potential for education, communication and mobilization is limitless. The old stereotype of the missionary armed with a Bible and a pith helmet is giving way to the stereotype of the missionary wielding a laptop, mobile phone and global positioning system.
Like a drug, however, it must be handled with care.
The addictive nature of electronic interactivity is well-documented. One recent report from the e-front: Mitch Maddox of Dallas legally changed his name to "DotComGuy" and promises not to leave his house for the entire year 2000. He's communicating with the world almost exclusively through the Internet to illustrate its possibilities (and make a healthy profit through e-commerce sponsorships).
In response, intrepid Chicago newspaper columnist Eric Zorn dubbed himself "NotComGuy" and swore off his computer, phone and fax machine for a week.
The winner? No contest. DotComGuy is still clicking after four months. NotComGuy, meanwhile, barely made it through his measly seven days of self-imposed disconnection.
"You kind of get addicted to being in touch with everything at all times," he admitted to Time magazine, sounding like a traumatized prisoner who's just escaped solitary confinement.
Even for those of us who don't spend 18 hours a day online, the Net joins the legion of other media that compete for our every conscious moment. What time is left for the One who commands us to love him with all our heart, all our strength, all our mind?
Despite reports to the contrary, God doesn't have a website. He doesn't even have e-mail. A mind driven by interactive distraction and instant chat, a mind possessed by the compulsive need to check e-mail or phone mail or CNN, cannot love him with undivided devotion. It has become afflicted with spiritual attention deficit disorder.
Yes, modern communication technologies have given us many gifts but they rob us -- if we let them -- of a more precious gift: the interior silence God alone inhabits.
The Psalms, Scripture's great songs of praise, open with the promise that the righteous person's "delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season...." (Psalm 1:2,3 NASB)
If you never disconnect from the incessantly beeping inbox of modern life, how do you delight in the Lord and meditate on his law day and night? You don't.
Turn off your machine of choice for awhile and think about that. Quietly.