The invention of the LCD screen has revolutionized almost all of life. Art, entertainment, communication, business, advertising, and endlessly more pockets of life have been filled with them. Everyone carries one around in their pocket, they are displayed in the corners of stores, on top of desks at work, and in our living rooms at home. Each one is like a window into a different world. These screens have brought so much into our world, but even though they may provide many great things are they actually stealing something even more important? Robbing us of our very souls?
What has happened?
May that sounds a little dramatic, but this thought struck me today as I was reading a book. Books are unique in the way they present story. I look upon a piece of paper with ink on it. The ink forms letters, which come together to form words, which clump into phrases, which make up sentences, which form ideas and pictures. This entire process is all inside of my brain. Books rely almost entirely on the reader for the story to work. While screens broadcast spoon-fed sound bytes, the book simply sits their and invites me to explore. And once I have read it, the images my mind creates, though written by the author, are uniquely mine. No one else who has read the same book will behold the same picture in their mind’s eye.
How about games? Children used to wonder the halls of their home as a prince paraded through his domain. They went outside where trees became castles and sandboxes became mountain ranges. Today, the PlayStation dreams up entertainment for children. The tree outside is only a tree, the castle lives in a screen on the wall.
So is this destroying our souls? The screen which promises constant connection seems to be disconnecting us from both God and other people — the very ones which we are told to love (Mk 12:29-31).
We were created in the image of the creator God. One of the ways we identify with our own creator is to also create. This is why art is almost always found pouring from a heart that has experience God’s love. God gives Eve to Adam and Adam bursts into poetry; Jacob has an encounter with the Lord and he builds an altar; the nation of Israel makes is safely across the Red Sea and they sing and dance; King David is forgiven, so he writes poetry; the prophets see a vision so they begin preaching and speaking. All of these are art forms. Creation is a natural response to God, because God is a creator. As he makes us into a new creation our hearts pour out new creations.
But the LCD screen has robbed us of creativity. We watch movies instead of reading books. With books the reader creates his own pictures, with movies they images are all served up and ready to go, no creativity required for the movie-goer. When children used to dream up tree-castles and sand-mountains they were taking part in creation; they were identifying with God. Now entertainment is created for them. No creativity required.
We were also called to love others. Here’s the thing about love. It “always perseveres” (1 Cor 13:7). That means that love doesn’t stand still. Persevering is continuing forward, even in the face of difficulty. Love isn’t something that merely responds in a kind way, love actually pursues. Remember what I said about that book I was reading? How it sat there, inviting me to explore? This invitation has been lost in the LCD screen. We’re so used to everything pursuing us. We no longer seek things out. The television delivers the current state of things to us. Facebook hooks us up with a “news feed” telling us about our friends. We no longer need to pursue others because the screen is pursuing us.
This has lead to a break down in relationships. We don’t communicate with each other. We don’t seek to serve others. We simply expect life to be served up on an LCD platter and then spoon-fed to us by sound-bytes. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t forget that you are real. You are a person made of flesh longing for love. So is everyone else. Be love. Pursue others. Seek to serve.
Shut down your computer. Turn off the TV. Disconnect from the LCD screen so that you can connect with God and with community.