Friday, July 28, 2006

Cell Phones and Sneezes

Cavernous echoes and distant voices flood my ear as I sit and listen. It sounds as if I have fallen into a deep pit that leaves me disconnected. After a period of odd silence filled with a few lone noises from beyond, the explanation finally comes.

My friend on the other end of the cell phone connection tells me, “Caroline, I just put you in my pocket. It is time to conduct commerce.” Even though I was dropped rudely into the depths of a shopper’s pocket, one cashier at a gas station did not have to wait for someone to get off a cell phone.

Last week, a woman stood in front of me in the line at a local grocery store. As we waited for our turn to check out, she continued to chat on her cell. A few moments later, everyone in our line shifted glances uncomfortably because we knew far too many details of her love life. This customer never realized that she was broadcasting personally every part of her “private conversation” exchanged on her phone. She never even realized that we were there.

How disconnected can humanity become from the people standing all around?

As a little girl, my mother would take me back to school shopping at Mr. Almond’s store in Old Towne Conyers the week before school started. The hardwood floors creaked as we stepped inside to make our purchases. Mr. Almond immediately welcomed us inside and spoke with my mother as Chris and I made our way to the kids’ section.

Brown paper sacks held all the supplies needed for each grade at Pine Street Elementary School. We picked up a bag for our grade, and mom allowed us to pick one more item as a prize. Before we left the store, someone always greeted us and offered us encouragement for our new school year. As a child, I clearly remember thinking we shopped for the simple purpose of socializing.

Shane Hipps’s book The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, The Gospel, and Church warns of the dangers of technology on our culture. When looking at media, Hipps asked what the medium obsoletes from our world. Cell phones offer us instant connection with almost anyone in the world at any moment. However, the more difficult and hidden question asks us what cell phones steal from us? Those phones steal our connection with the people standing right beside us.

The Gospel of Mark describes a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She had been hearing the stories of Jesus and the rumors of his healing power. When Jesus passed by her on the street amongst a crowd, she reached out and touched his robe.

Her culture banned her from touching anyone while she was bleeding. However, Jesus instantly felt her small touch. Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague." Her physical connection with Jesus brought healing.

The Center of Disease Control tells that the best prevention we have against influenza and respiratory infections is manners. Simply covering our mouths when we cough and sneeze would prevent over half of those diseases from spreading. When we forget people are living just beside us, we lose even the simplest human protective behaviors.

Dear friends, turn off your phone! In memory of Mr. Almond and his store, I promise to put the cell phone in my pocket and speak to that person behind the counter. The time has come to offer simple humanity to those around us.


Blogger Tanda said...

I have the same issues with cell phones. I won't use them (especially if there are people around me).

8:11 AM  

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