Should We Redefine Quality Time in the Internet Age?

I recently came across an old article I had saved that appeared in the New York Times back in 2011. The article is entitled Quality Time, Redefined. It was written by Alex Williams. You can read it here. In his article, Williams argues computers, Kindles, and iDevices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, are creating a different form of quality time for families.

Quality Time?

Throughout the article, Williams provides anecdotal evidence from families and couples, who believe these devices have given them more opportunity for quality time, even though they are simultaneously connected to “parallel worlds” through their iDevices. He tells of a family who spends their nights reading, watching shows on iTunes, doing homework, and playing video games all at the same time, in the same room, on each of their individual devices, while interacting with one another about the content they are digesting.

One mom says, “An evening like that can bring more closeness than a night spent huddling over a board game back in the days of analog.”

Williams agrees, and he believes this and other accounts serve as evidence that “technology is bringing the family together, not pulling it apart.” He believes families are pulled together because the “proliferation of devices and media options make it easier for family members to pursue their interests online while seated in the same room.”

But does spending time doing your own thing, submerged in your own world, really count as quality time?

Not in my opinion. Sure, these families are in the same room, and they may even be interacting, but they are not building meaningful relationships with one another. They are, instead, projecting their digital world onto each other through momentary blips of conversation, which doesn’t serve to build deep relationships.

Relationship are built by interacting with one another in a meaningful way. In this article, you don’t hear of anyone talking about their day, the struggles they are having at work or school. Parents are not walking their children through Scripture, nor are they teaching, or even modeling a Christian worldview. Husbands are not washing their wives in the Word, and no one is practicing or learning self-sacrifice. Instead, they are celebrating Mario Kart victories, and sharing an occasional laugh at the latest Facebook video.

These families have not found a new way to experience quality time together. They have, instead, found a new way to experience “Me Time”, while making themselves feel as if they are experiencing family time.

Quality Time Involves

Quality time involves members of the family actually talking to and interacting with one another on a deeper level. Rather than treat the iPad as if it is a pacifier for teenagers, parents need to spend time talking with and drawing their kids out, and couples should be doing the same. A night on the couch indulging in Facebook, Twitter, and Hulu does not build long and lasting relationships. Nor does it allow parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord.

Families need to take time to unplug and disengage from their computers long enough to actually sit and talk with one another. Rather than “veg out” in front of the latest iDevice, parents should be opening the Scriptures with their children and teaching them what the Word of the Lord says. They should be modeling prayer and true Christian fellowship for their children. As well as parents should be spending time discussing the latest social trends, in order to help their children, teenagers in particular, develop a Christian worldview. Doing these things constitutes quality time.

Conclusion

So while the latest technologies are allowing families to spend more time in the same room together, it does not mean they are spending quality time together. Quality time is not interacting while having screen time. Instead, quality time is time together engaged in real and meaningful activity and conversation, which is uninterrupted and unencumbered by our iDevices.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you regard as quality time?

Human Depravity Leads to Accountability

Last week, David Brooks wrote an opinion piece in the NY Times entitled: The Age of Innocence. He opens his column by saying the following:

“The people who pioneered democracy in Europe and the United States had a low but pretty accurate view of human nature. They knew that if we get the chance, most of us will try to get something for nothing. They knew that people generally prize short-term goodies over long-term prosperity. So, in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties.”

In America, we decentralized power building checks and balances that served “to frustrate and detain the popular will.” In Europe, they did exactly the opposite. They centralized power, which “was held by small coteries of administrators and statesmen, many of whom had attended the same elite academies where they were supposed to learn the art and responsibilities of stewardship.”

Even though the checks instituted in America and Europe where different, Brooks says, they “were based on a similar carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching.” He then goes on to quote James Madison, who essentially says the reason we are naturally selfish is because we are depraved.

After setting the scene, Brooks then addresses the problem, which is that people no longer believe they are depraved. “They think depravity is nonexistent and they take self-government for granted.” Leaders no longer “believe their job is to restrain popular will.” Rather, they believe they are to “flatter and satisfy it,” which has caused many of today’s voters “to regard their desires as entitlements.

This has caused massive problems in today’s society. Governments have made promises they cannot afford to keep, as well as it’s people believe they are entitled to benefits for which they are not willing to pay.

The reason this has occurred is because people no longer believe they are depraved. Their worldview has no room in it for human depravity. Causing themselves to believe they are capable of self-policing. But this is simple not true.

We are depraved and we will always be depraved.

In Romans 3:10 Paul says, “None is righteous, no, not one.” Even as Christians, unrighteousness lives in our flesh and wars within us, never leaving us. Speaking of the unrighteousness that lives in his flesh Paul says in Romans 7:21-25:

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

So, yes, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are Overcomers (1 Jn 2:13; 5:4-5), but we still are at war with our flesh, and, at times, will succumb to our flesh, as Paul makes evident in Romans 7.

So What are We to Do?

I think David Brooks’ column has a lot of insight for us here, not on a political level, but on an individual level. In his piece, he tells us that we as a nation have forgotten our depravity. I think we as a church from time to time forget that as well. While we live on this earth, we still dwell within a sinful tent; our flesh is still warring with our spirit. As a result, we too need a system of checks and balances.

This system has to exist outside of ourselves, for we cannot police ourselves anymore than our governments can police themselves. So what I want to challenge you to do is to find another person, preferably of the same sex, and someone other than your spouse, and form an accountability relationship.

Who to Look For?

When looking for someone to form this relationship with, you should pick a person who you can trust and who will hold you accountable. Someone to whom you can confess your sins and pray with about those sins. Someone who will check up on you throughout the week, as you do the same with them.

What to Do?

Once you find someone, start meeting with them once a week, or once every two weeks, whatever your schedule allows. These meetings do not have to be elaborate, they can be simple. To give you an idea of what a meeting would look like, you could read a passage of Scripture together, discuss it, talk about any sins that may be present in your life that the biblical writer brings out, and pray with one another. It is that simple! And a simple act like that can, and will, reap huge dividends in your spiritual growth.

My Challenge

So, I challenge you to begin praying this week for God to provide you with an accountability partner. If you already have someone in mind, I challenge you to get started.

Interestingness

Here are some interesting articles I came across this week.

Human Flourishing

Here is an interesting article on Human Flourishing. It has to do with busyness, value in work, identity in work, and depending on God in our work. It will give you a good look into our culture and where we find our identity, and where we should find our identity. You can read the article by clicking here.

Does Questioning Evolution Make You Anti-Science?

Writing in response to Paul Krugman of the New York Times  harsh critique on Republican Candidate Rick Perry for his views on Evolution, Rabbi Shmuley brings up some interesting points regarding the idea or theory of evolution. You can read his article by clicking here.

Sin: This is Not the Way it is Supposed to Be

Cornelius Plantinga Jr. wrote an excellent article regarding sin and its destructive capability. He looks back at the way things were and heralds that things are not the way it is supposed to be right now. You can read his article here.

Scripture Reading Plans

My friend Dustin Bruce over at Gospel Spirituality highlighted a helpful reading plan this week. You can check out his post by clicking here and you can check out the reading plan by clicking here.

Is You Dining Room on Mission?

That was the title of a recent article by Tim Chester over on The Resurgence website. The article is an excellent read for anyone wanting to be more missional or focus their church to be more missional. You can read it by clicking here.