28 September 2008



Serpentine it slithers silently around dark corners and alongside baseboards, with dual fangs always at the ready. Dulling senses, distracting attentiveness, hypnotizing minds, disconnecting people...

Technological entertainment.

It's electronic cocaine.

And it's everywhere.

The stores. Friends' houses. Friends' cars. Our home. (Thankfully, not at my children's school.)

My husband and I talked today about how our boys' use of the television and computer games has been growing...and growing more worrisome. We've always moderated their use and we have strong limits--we only know of one family more conservative than we are on this issue because they don't have a TV. However, it gets more difficult as they get older and life gets busier. And I know the risks will continue to get bigger as they will hear about more violent games later on. And then there are the ads they could click on to travel to unapproved sites. And the technology advances by leaps and bounds, creating more engrossing virtual experiences. It's addicting, especially for many boys apparently. What to do...now...before we regret not acting soon enough?

I have said for years that I'd be very happy to get rid of the TV and online game playing altogether, but my husband does not agree and so since we both can't have our way, I chose to give way. So, we try to moderate our kids' use since they can't moderate it themselves. The kitchen timer worked for quite a while. But not any more. So we talk about limiting it to weekends, requiring chores in exchange for computer time, looking into software that can help block material and time their usage. We talked about encouraging playing outdoors and doing more outdoor activities as a family to model and live it out. And giving the boys outdoor projects to give them something to conquer and master, to really give themselves to, to work with their hands and their minds to accomplish something real and know the satisfaction and confidence from such feats.

All good and well.

But I just keep coming back to this notion that it's like trying to manage an electronic cocaine habit. And I just want to get rid of it.

"Do you ever think about becoming Amish?" a friend asked me recently. YES! At least the un-plugging part. Also the honest work, the development of self-reliant skills, bypassing the addictions to busyness and consumerism, the skipping of our culture's modern mess...yes, I've thought about it routinely. Perhaps it's because of my idealism and disappointment with the empty promises of suburban living. Of course, the only problem is that sin will still be right there with me, just in some other form. That internal struggle will only release me from its grip completely when I shed this earthly dwelling for an eternal one.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. Or maybe I'm just tired. Tired of swimming against the current around me. As the kids get older, it becomes harder to find families with similar convictions about family life and choices. One cannot make assumptions about what children may encounter in someone else's home, even those of committed believers. It's not that I want my kids to live in a bubble, but some things are off limits (for adults and well as kids) and some things need to wait until later. I've heard of other moms who had their elementary aged children see online porn or very violent video games at other children's homes. And I remember my own growing up...My parents didn't know that I played with sex toys with a neighborhood friend (although we didn't use them for their, um, intended purpose, we just goofed around with them). And the porno magazines I found, too. And the simulated sex, in my bed, with a female friend at her suggestion (all clothes kept on, though). All this when I was in middle school twenty years ago when childhood wasn't nearly as sexualized as it is now.

And now, all of that and much worse, is only a click away...the computer mouse, the TV remote.

Not to mention the subtler influences about consumerism, distorted "beauty," glorification of rebellion, mediocrity, contemporaneity (being "up to date" with the times, as Wendell Berry defines it) and on it goes.

And, yes, there is good to be had and to share over the wired world. Even so, tonight...

I want to unplug.

I want Heaven. Now.

Lord, deliver us. Grant us discernment. Teach us to cut off what offends you. To lay aside every encumbrance. To refuse to allow easy legalism to make our choices. To know what true freedom is. And is not. To live the real, abundant life. To hunger and thirst for righteousness. To take up our cross daily and follow you. To unplug...and plug only, and fully, into You.

No comments: