October 10, 2010

The cost of being unreachable

Some people complain about other people’s apparent addiction to connectivity. Blackberrys, iPhones, and other such gadgets are seen as signs of misplaced priorities or rudeness. Why, they ask, would anyone call or text people who are elsewhere instead of talking to the people who are with them?

© Apple Inc.
Of course, the gadgeteers don’t see it this way. They see their world as a relational network, and sharing what’s happening with those not present is a way of fostering relationships.

Although I understand this view, I believe we all need to unplug once in a while. In his book Good to Great in God’s Eyes, Chip Ingram advises us to “develop great habits.” One of those is, as part of Sabbath-keeping, to “turn it off:”

“Close the calendar, turn off the phones and pagers, shut the computers down, and look back on your week in gratitude.”

Today, after worship and Sunday school, I drove 20 minutes to another church for a class. I found the classroom empty. Shortly, the teacher’s husband arrived to tell me she was sick and class was canceled. She had tried to call me but got no answer.

That’s because my phone was turned off.

He apologized for my driving that distance for nothing, and I apologized for being unreachable. Then I headed home.

As I drove, I thought about the cost of being unreachable. About 45 minutes of driving time and, since I get great mileage, less than a gallon of gas. Not too high a price, I think, for developing this particular habit.

But next week, I’ll probably check for messages.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not allowed to be unreachable. If my mother can't find me within 15 minutes, she will call the police (my brother the cop) and the Highway Patrol. And my neighbors. And my friends. I've learned to keep the phone on. :)
    But I do try to unplug at least an hour a day. It gets easier with practice.