Last night (a Monday), EA and I were watching The Amazing Race. There is one contestant on the show right now for whom this season has been one gigantic red flag for anyone who may want to date this individual in the future. I made that comment to EA and she chuckled a bit. So I began to tweet that thought because posting our television reactions to Twitter has rapidly joined apple pie and shared cinematic universes as quintessentially American things.
But I stopped typing once I realized that no one else was watching the show. The episode that we were viewing was three days old. If I tweeted my Amazing Race thought at that moment it would have seemed like a random, out-of-the-blue rambling (granted that is still what a lot of Twitter is).
EA and I don't watch TV live or even on the same day as shows air. Not anymore. We dropped cable a few months ago to save money. Then we got an Apple TV and between Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the odd network website, we have been able to keep up with our shows. All in all, it was a great decision.
The one kicker is we get our shows a day late, which isn't too big of a deal. Even before we ditched cable, we often watched TV a little late on the DVR. When shows air, we're putting the boys down for bed or doing odd jobs around the house or staring at the ceiling as we try to remember what free time felt like. So the fact that we still have all these shows without having to worry about DVR storage space is great. Technology is fantastic.
But it is also a bit weird for moments like last night because it makes me feel like I am unstuck in time. For example, my friend TJ and I are both big fans of The Flash, but I often don't see episodes until days after him. Whenever he asks me about the most recent episode, my response is typically, "I haven't seen it yet. I'm hoping I get to tonight." We still have a shared experience of that show, but it's disjointed. It is not bad. Just odd.
It seems like technology has made time matter less and less. There was a time when if I wanted to watch The Flash, I had one chance. I would have had to be in front of my TV on Tuesday at 8 PM or I missed out. It used to be that the work day was from 9 to 5. But now you can access all of your work stuff at home and people are working beyond the office. Technology is making the lines of time and space all blurry. Some of it is fantastic (the TV thing more than the work thing), but I wonder if becoming increasingly unmoored from the concepts of time and space is doing something to us. As we mold our world to our individualized schedules, do we lose something?
I was thinking about this a few weeks ago as many megachurches were having Easter services on not just Sunday, but also Saturday and Friday. From a practical perspective, I understand this move. You've got a lot of people, you've got a lot of services, and you don't want to kill your staff and volunteers on Resurrection Sunday. I totally get it. But I wondered what it does to displace your church's celebration on Christ risen from the vast majority of the Church's celebration? What does it mean to turn Good Friday into Easter Sunday and to sing "He is risen" when others are remembering the cross?
I don't have an answer to that. I am not saying that it is necessarily wrong, but there is just something off about how we increasingly try to transcend space and time at our convenience. You would think that transcending these boundaries would lead us to being more connected. In ways it does that, I can communicate and share with people all over the globe and it is incredible. Yet at the same time, breaking loose from some of the space and time tethers sever us. It misses out on a greater opportunity to connect. When we worship on Easter Sunday, we are worshipping with the rest of the (Western) church. When we go all The Matrix, wave our hands, and find that Sunday can move, we miss out on that idea of the Church worshipping as one.
And, yeah, I totally get the argument that God is beyond time and space and yada yada yada. But we are not beyond time and space. And I find it interesting that God became best known to us and thus became better known throughout time and space by limiting God's self to those very things. Jesus was here in a physical place at a physical time. He was flesh, blood, and fully present. That physicality and earthiness nature is expressed in what he gave for us to remember him by: the bread and the cup. Part of what I love about those moments in Church is that something mystical happens in the physical: we are joining together with other Christians from whom we are separated by miles and years.
So I wonder what it does to me--not just as a Christian, but as a human--when I try to forsake these limitations placed on me. What happens when I replace physical community with the zeroes and ones of a personalized social network? What happens when work can go anywhere with me? What happens when I can slide sacred days around the calendar at my convenience? Does it make me think that the world revolves around me? Do I lose some of my humanity in that process?
Again, I don't think these possibilities are inherently bad. I am not going to give up Twitter or stop watching Br ooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu. I don't think that Saturday church is a bad thing nor is keeping in touch with faraway friends online. Those are all great things. But I do wonder how much I should try to use technology to mold my community, my schedule, my world to fit what I want. Perhaps there is something good to submitting oneself to a place and to a scheduled time. Maybe it is important as we become more technologically advanced to commit ourselves to be physically present in the here and now. Perhaps that limitedness is what keeps us tethered to our humanity, to our God, and, in a weird way, to others spread out across space and time.