Modern Devices and the Loss of Eye Contact

According to a 2011 New York Times article, there is an interesting trend among young people. If forced to make a choice teenagers would rather have the internet than a car. Staying connected to friends via a smart phone is a priority. “The iPhone is the Ford Mustang of today,” according to Thilo Koslowski, an automotive analyst. “Mobile devices, gadgets and the internet are becoming must-have lifestyle products that convey status.”

96px-Man_speaking_on_mobile_phoneWhat this study reveals confirms what I see on the streets. Everywhere I look someone either has his cell phone to his ear or is looking down at it. With their gaze fixed on their IPhone, they are checking social networks or looking for the nearest restaurant.

Recently a news report showed a man who nearly ran into a bear that had wandered into his neighborhood. The man did not see him until he nearly bumped into the bear. He had been texting on his cellphone.

I actually observed some teenagers in my church texting while they were sitting next to each other. I tapped them on the shoulder so they would stop. Some might consider me a spoilsport. I was listening to the sermon. Their texting was distracting.

Parents used to say, “Look at me when I am talking to you.” With smart phone usage so common, this is harder than it has ever been.

Before smart phones and the internet, people frequently stayed connected through personal visits – made possible by trips in those automobiles which are now rating second place among young people.

Technology has brought incredible advantages that make our lives easier. I make use of many of them. There is nothing wrong with email, texting or smart phones. I travel a great deal and keep up with family and friends through those means – especially SKYPE which gives me an opportunity to see as well as talk to my grandchildren. However, the trend away from eye contact and face to face conversation makes me uncomfortable.

Certainly there are many ways to communicate. Not all means have to be face to face to be productive. God has used many methods to get His message across to His people – angels, prophets, a burning bush and even a donkey.

There is nothing like eye contact and a personal encounter, however. God chose to meet us face to face through His Son, Jesus Christ. His eye contact was penetrating. So penetrating that people would rather avoid His gaze than be confronted with their own sinful nature. That’s what happened to Adam and Eve after they sinned. They hid.

Standing face to face with Jesus not only causes us to confront our own sin, but to realize that His deliberate personal participation in an imperfect world was to redeem those who would believe in Him. Those who have seen Him are never the same.

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we did not esteem Him (Isaiah 53:3). But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately while he was still speaking, a cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:60-61).

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