I resisted buying a cell phone. The car was one of my last refuges from people.
I bought one, and moved to a “smart” phone soon after.
Now I have to decide when to leave it in the truck when I get home so I won’t answer it. I leave it in the charger so that the battery will last when I go to bed at night. It is no different from when I was a student. If I chose a table in the main part of the library to study, I knew I was open to socializing. It was the code. I have spend plenty of non-productive hours in the library.
I then learned to find great hiding places where I worked when I chose to focus, and amazing things followed. The only difference is that the “preserve” around solitude used to be much greater, if that makes sense. With a phone in your pocket, bike pack, back pack or purse, the “preserve” is as small as your personal interaction zone. Small.
WITH that I have noticed an image coming in through sci-fi and other sources: the hive or interconnected mentality where one participates in the inmost thoughts of thousands. It was in the Borg in Star Trek, it will come again in Card’s vision for the enemy in Ender’s Game.
Think about it. We have this desire (many of us) to share intimacy, to share ourselves with others (Facebook, Pinterest, all the new sites) and we think it may be possible somewhere out there.
Christians found something as close as humanly possible in the beginning of Christianity and coined a word for it — koinonia — the concept of fellowship that is intimate and powerful.
So how do you balance the two? The thirst for some solitude and some sense of belonging to others and possibly to something big? I don’t know a lot, but I know that both take work. Both demand time.
Both are worth it. And my saying that may be an almost unconscionable grace. I am grateful if it is.