Another bowling league. Another Saturday. Another chance to walk around with my friends, acting bored while inwardly ecstatic to finally be among friends and in public. We didn’t have cellphones or texting back then, so it was our one chance to catch up on everything that had happened the week before. We spent most of our time reapplying pale pink lipstick and checking to see if our permed bangs were still as high as they were when we last checked two minutes prior.
I loved bowling alley Saturdays. On this particular day, I had a few extra dollars to spend. No doubt it was from my mom’s best friend Phyllis, who always managed to slip me some snack cash when my mom wasn’t looking. My eyes were on the prize. Nachos. I came from a home where our bread looked like a hippy glued a bunch of nuts together, and the only shots we were taking were of Barley Green mixed into our all-natural, sugar-free orange juice. So nachos were a big deal…a very big deal. I grasped my first nacho in between my sticky little trembling fingers and dipped. Something was wrong. The cheese. It was rotten. I looked at my friends in disgust and said, “these nachos are so perverted.” I knew immediately that something was unfitting. “Perverted?” they asked. “Do you even know what that means?” When people like myself find themselves in this kind of predicament, there is only one way to answer, “Yes, I do know…but I’m not telling.”
I miss those days. Not the humiliation, so much, because that still happens often. I just miss things like bowling alleys and putt-putt golf and recreation outside of a phone screen. It seems as if every recreation that was once part of weekend rituals is now offered online. We can even bowl virtually. But I loved the feeling of slipping my crisp neon socks into moldy brown bowling shoes. I loved knowing that the shoes run big, so to ask for a six instead of a seven, coyly smiling over at my friends because I’m an alley local and know the inside scoop. Where am I going to get my perverted nachos now?
Actually, it’s not just bowling alleys that technology has robbed me of these days. After recently visiting America for the first time in several years, the changes from technology have left me increasingly shook *I’m in my thirties and definitely used that word incorrectly. I have felt more robbed by technology than the time my bag was knifed open at the market in broad daylight. I’m left feeling exposed and lacking by the fast pace of our culture. Our American individualism is being caressed by our increased autonomy through technology…and it’s robbing me of everything! Everything!
*steps away from computer to gaze into the mirror and scream
Here are some things that technology has robbed me of having:
Door dash is single-handedly killing the casserole industry. Who wants their friends to drop off a broccoli casserole during a post-partum recovery when Cheesecake Factory could just as efficiently deliver steak tips off of their skinnylicious menu? How dare you make me gag down your undercooked rice in a dish of assorted pantry items when I could have ordered out. I’ll miss casseroles though. I’ll miss returning them with a thank you note and a little chocolate. After all, my grandma Farris taught me never to return a dish empty.
I will never see a unique wedding again. Pinterest has stolen every new and beautiful thing in God’s creation and dwindled it down into a DIY project that is accessible to everyone. Everything that was once unique and surprising at a wedding, like a log-sawing ceremony, is now something that we already saw from a screen. Pinned it last week. Over it.
Ok, I still manage to have plenty of those, but now we sensor every conversation, knowing in the back of our minds that this person is a loud social media fan of Bernie Sanders and mentioning big money in politics will send them into a crazed frenzy. Instead, we cater the conversation to things that we know they find pleasant. I kind of miss the enflamed outbursts though. I miss asking people how their dog is holding up, not having the facebook image already in my mind of their pet’s eulogy edited over a picture of two crossed paws. I already knew it was dead. So now what? There is nothing new to uncover. There is nothing awkward to pour out and then dance around. It’s so boring.
Dating People in Person:
I’m married, so the feeling of meeting someone on a first date and feeling a sparkling connection is gone. Me and the old boy’s connection these days is getting overly excited for low-fat dip at Trader Joe’s. All the butterflies. All the feels. But technology, namely online dating, robs us of hilarious dating stories where we shiver/eat our way through a dinner date thinking, “If indeed I survive this night, I can’t wait to tell everyone what a creep Sarah set me up with this time.” I want more creepy dating stories. Everyone is ruining my fun.
Ordering groceries online finally made Americans effective. Before that, people had to make the unimaginable choice between feeding their families or having a job. It was literally death or work because the time couldn’t be spared. It was tough, and many people lost a lot in the process. America finally feels like a developed country thanks to this technology. But I admit, I will miss running into my grandma’s neighbor in the bean aisle and hearing stories about compulsory spankings by the nuns at their Catholic school. Will I ever see someone from my past again? Will I ever feel the sheer joy of my children knocking over a display or hearing a stranger comment on “having my hand’s full.” No, grocery shopping is dead, and so I might as well be too.
No one goes to class reunions quite simply because I already know what Jennifer ate for breakfast yesterday and where she spends her summer vacations. I also know that she had a C-section from the looks of her carefully posed bikini beach shots. I know she has three kids and a home business that she wants me to join. Why would I suffer through a reunion so that I could judge people from my past when I could simply swipe my judgmental index finger over a screen to receive that pleasure?
I’m so tired of being on point. Thanks to the internet, I know how to dress and eat for my body type. I know which haircuts suit my facial structure or lack thereof, and I’m keenly aware of which pants to wear in which season and that blue eyeshadow up to my eyebrows is not acceptable. Now everyone knows how to accessorize without screaming, “I need attention!” Why? I liked knowing who those people were by spotting their pink chalk lipstick and bracelets up to their elbows *me at the bowling alley. Gone are the days of my little sister placing 74 mini butterfly clips and glitter on every crevice. She now looks like a Pinterest dream. Darn you, Pinterest. You’ve outsmarted us. You’ve cleaned the world of bold and unique fashion ventures and made us all look our very best and exactly the same.
I guess at the end of the day, it’s our decision to know what we are and what we are not willing to give up. It’s always an exchange, though. Technology has offered us the blessing of connecting with people who are worlds apart (living overseas, this is particular special) while simultaneously tempting us to miss
what who is right in front of us. Technology helps us with daily tasks while simultaneously removing us from needing one another. Technology makes us more productive than ever before, but are we being productive in all the right things? Are our priorities where we want them to be? Or more importantly, are our priorities where God wants them to be or where technology leads us? As Christians, our two greatest commandments are to love God and love people. We should probably be weighing our decisions in technology by how they are helping us accomplish our ultimate purpose in life (Isaiah 43:6-7). I need to take a couple of steps back and evaluate this in my own life. Is my use of technnology bringing glory to God, magnifying Jesus, or distracting me from my life’s purpose?
The world and technology are changing fast, but we get to decide where our boundaries are and what we are willing to surrender in exchange for new technology. Is ease ultimate? Is convenience supreme? Are relationships and real live social interaction secondary? There are many important questions that we should ask ourselves before accepting any new technology into our lives. Like everything, there needs to be a balance. We need to find our own way, not be led into it by what we are being offered. As for me, Imma ’bout to put my phone away, head down to the alley for some perverted nachos…and someone close to me is about to get a nice steamy casserole.