Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Phone and Internet but not Communication

At times I wonder at the ways technology affects our lives. We have the ability to communicate nearly instantaneously, yet little is truly communicated. Living in Uganda where mobile phones and internet were practically dropped into the middle of their lives, I have noticed that people do not often use these tools to communicate changes in plans. Yesterday I accompanied Rev. Jacob to a home prayer fellowship. When we arrived the house was closed tight, but a young woman finally came from the back to tell us that the homeowner was sick and had gone to the clinic. Therefore the fellowship was cancelled! But no one had notified the church office of this and so we arrived to learn of this in person. This also happened last week when I accompanied the lay reader to another home and found no one there. When someone is late, they just come late. There is no need to notify people of that change. As you might imagine, this has been one of my struggles with life in Uganda. But in their worldview, the concept of time is so different. They are more concerned with what is happening with them in the present time knowing that they will eventually get to the next event - even if it's hours late. They know it's time for dinner when dinner is ready! And what is more amazing to me is that there is rarely any sense of stress over the delay - something I could learn much more about.

At the same time, in a culture where 10 years ago few people had phones, and where phones are now not just in each home, but in the hands of every man, woman and teenager, personal conversations and even meetings are stopped when the phone rings. I have been in shops making a purchase and had to wait while the shopkeeper received a phone call from home. People leading meetings take phone calls in the middle of their speech. And ... if you don't take a call, people are annoyed!

Thank God for technology, but may we learn to use it respectfully.

Blessings on your day.

1 comment: