The Tethered Self

devotional on being tethered

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

My first encounter with tether-ball was at camp. You could tell that scores of children enjoyed playing there from the donut pattern of dirt around the pole.

If you’ve played tether-ball you know its physics. A rope is tied to the top of a ten-foot pole and seven or eight feet down hangs a ball. The goal of the game is to hit the ball with your fist or palm so it winds up all the rope and the ball hits the post. Your opponent tries to stop you from doing so and hopes to send the ball in the opposite direction.

And all the while the ball is tethered.  Tied. Constrained. Going in tight circles. Fast.

A professor at MIT, Sheryl Turkle, uses the idea of tethering to picture our relationship with technology. She wrote: “On my cell, online, on the web, on instant messaging—these phrases suggest a new place for the situation of a tethered self.” She goes on to suggest that the relationships we believe really matter are determined by how accessible people are through media rather than face-to-face conversation. For example, we’ve all seen people in a park ignore each other while texting with heads down.

Are you so tethered that you can’t connect with people nearby? Do media distract you from meaningful friendships with people and God? Are you so tethered that you can’t live without being on the grid?

Dear God, help me be less digitally connected so I may commune with family and friends. Untether me so I can better love and care for people closest to me. Amen.

By Dr. Bill Strom

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