Glowing Faces

Last year, we went camping for a weekend in Tennessee. It was beautiful and warm and our campsite was right beside a nice creek. It had an awesome fire pit, picnic table and even a shade tree. After we got all our tents up, I sat down to relax for a bit and was looking around… taking in the beauty and listening to the water roll by. As I looked around, I noticed there was something strange on top of the post where the power box was mounted… an antenna. I wondered about that and asked my wife why that was there. She looked at it for a second and then remembered something they told her. It was a WiFi antenna. That’s right… at this rural state park camp ground… they had internet available… 

That night, as the crickets began chirping, I started a fire in the fire pit. The four of us sat around it with our dog and talked and laughed as we enjoyed the warm glow. As I looked around at the other campers, something was really weird to me… all over the campground from where I could see, there were people sitting outside of their campers or tents and I could see them plainly. It wasn’t that they had fires going or that there were lights everywhere. It was that their faces were glowing… only, this isn’t one of those stories where I’m trying to convince you that something paranormal happened. Their faces weren’t glowing in some supernatural way. They were glowing because they were all looking at their phones or tablets and the light from the devices was making them glow.

As strange as it sounds, my heart broke a little in that moment. Here we were in one of the most beautiful settings around with the most relaxing of atmospheres, and people couldn’t unplug from the internet. I thought about it with judgmental disgust and then pulled my phone from my pocket to take a picture… Then the irony hit me… and instead I simply used it to jot down a note from which I would eventually write this post. I shook my head and went back about my business… but not before checking my Facebook feed and news and all of that…

A bit later, my wife said, “Could you put your phone away please…” and I realized that it had been several minutes now… and my face was glowing, too.

When I was a kid, I remember being curious about the pictures in the large illustrated Bible we had on the coffee table (as most southern families had). In the New Testament section, there were pictures of Jesus and He had a halo or a glow around His head. This was the artists interpretation of what His divine presence looked like, I guess. (I always wondered at that time if His head glowed like that at night and such… and if so wasn’t that a little strange…) Now I wonder if future generations will see artistic or even real life representations of us and see our glowing faces. Except if they do, it won’t be a divine presence… it will be our mobile devices…

We look to these things for entertainment and to pass the time and that’s not wrong. It’s actually quite handy. I love to keep up with scores, news, weather, and friends/family with it. But the problem is that we miss the true entertainment of the existence right around us… the organic world… the place to which we are physically connected.

I have an app on my phone that produces white noise. You can choose static, or rain, or water rushing by (like a creek or river), or the sounds of nature, etc. You can even choose a busy city street. I was out on a run recently and I put in my earbuds which is somewhat habitual. I decided I would like to mix a creek with the sounds of nature. So that’s what I did. I realized a few minutes into the run that I was running beside a creek in a rural area… so I took out my earbuds… and the sounds I heard were so therapeutic.

Don’t hear me saying that technology is bad. That would be quite hypocritical of me to say from this platform. What’s bad is that we don’t often unplug from it all and just take in the world around us… live in the moment. Laugh and cut up with each other and communicate without texting. I’ve found that my stress level actually decreases when I spend less time on my phone… interesting….

This summer, perhaps let your face glow by a backyard fire pit… pay attention to the glorious beauty around you. It will only make you feel better.