It’d been eight years since the zombie apocalypse ravaged the city, a host of them residing in an airport eating the flesh and brains of humans. A girl and her friends are wandering around when the zombie finds himself attracted the woman. He eats the boyfriend (minor detail) and something strange happens. His attraction grows stronger. He begins to protect the girl. Stranger still, the zombie falls in love with the girl and the more he falls in love with her, the more human becomes. Though Warm Bodies carries the obvious message that love is what makes us who we are, I can’t help but wonder if there’s more depth to that statement than even they knew. Frankly, sometimes I wonder if technology has robbed us of our humanity, making us more efficient but at a greater expense than we realized.
Aside from our increased sense of impatience and dependency, we’ve forgotten how to unplug and exist apart from our devices. We’re like children who don’t want to sleep out of fear of missing out on the action. It’s gotten to the point where the first thing my students ask me for when they come over my house is the password to my wifi (the second being the location of our outlets). The sad part is I’m guilty too: whenever I walk into the room my first inclination, much to the frustration of my wife, is to crack open my laptop and check my Facebook. It’s interesting how now in Christian circles we’re challenging each other to fast from technology. Years ago it was countercultural not to have cable or television in your house, but now I believe if someone wanted to be truly revolutionary all they’d have to do is keep the Internet out of their house (but even then I’m sure there’d be an open network in the vicinity). We’re technological zombies feeding off the LCD screens of our latest gadgets.
A while back I wrote a blog on happiness. If I had to point to one thing I believe is contributing to the increase of depression in our society, I would say technology. Courtesy of social media and other platforms, we now have another excuse to turn inwards and create our own realities as an escape from the one we actually reside in. In the process we’ve become so busy pretending we’re living a fantastic life we actually fail to live.
This isn’t to say technology is the anti-christ. Obviously the reason you can read these words regardless of your location is the technology afforded to us. Yet every so often I’ll meet with students to learn about their spiritual journeys. Invariably the question of what they do for fun comes up and more often than I’d like the response has been to sit at home on their smartphones, watching Netflix. They don’t like interacting with people. Though it’s hidden under the guise of shyness, in actuality they’ve forgotten how to relate to people in real life.
As ministers we’re not just competing with clubs and bars. We’re competing against the growing isolationism of our materialistic, technological culture and I’m tempted to capitulate. Sometimes it is easier to talk with someone via text message than to bear the awkwardness of real life interaction. But for those students I’ve seen become a part of our makeshift community, I’ve seen something strange happen: they come alive again. They rediscover the joys of meeting new people and sharing life with one another. Like Warm Bodies they become human again as they’re reminded again that it’s love that makes us who we are.