With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life. (Prov 4:23, NABRE)
While the subject matter in today’s comicstrip has been addressed before, “Herman Nootks” portrays it a little differently so as to invite readers to consider what’s really happening. Let’s talk …
THE SUBJECT MATTER …
The cartoon is about “screen time.” It probes the impact that a life of virtual friends can have on real life. It also invites the reader to consider the impact of a “social media society” on a new generation, including anger, depression, intolerance, and other trends.
IN THIS CARTOON …
We’re telling a little story in these four cartoon panels. The first panel depicts two mice (Herman and Whitey). They are together. We don’t know where they’ve been. We don’t know what they’ve been doing. But we know that they have arrived together at a storefront. The store has a deliciously enticing display window. In the window are fantastic, new screens of all sizes. They are especially for mice — just like Herman and Whitey!
Herman and Whitey do what any other mouse would do. They go into the store, and each buys a new screen. Then they take their new screens to their respective homes and connect with each other. Don’t miss the obvious — they are no longer together! They are “connected,” but each is now alone. We see this in the second and third panels.
In the final panel, there is a glimmer of sanity and hope. While Herman recognizes the potential these new screens offer and the excitement they’ve added to his and Whitey’s lives, he also senses there is something sad and pathetic about the way they have actually isolated these friends from each other. Ironically, he and his friend are now alone together.
FROM THE BIBLE …
The Bible warns that we are to protect our hearts against anything that will take life away from us. It is not speaking of social media, of course. It’s talking about ANYTHING! We are to protect ourselves from anything that might get between us and God, or between us and our family and friends.
Is this happening? You be the judge.
- Visit a mall. Watch how many people move through the crowd with phones in front of their faces. Be sure to count the ones with earphones too. The earphone folks know that proper protocol prevents you from interrupting them while those things are on their ears. What they all have in common is that, even though they’re surrounded by people, they are isolated.
- Sit in a restaurant. See how many people come in with their spouses, family, or friends. Then watch how many put their phones in front of their faces soon after sitting down in the booth or at the table. At that point, they are isolated — and the isolate the ones who came in with them too!
- Attend a family gathering. See for yourself if a large portion of the people sitting around the living room don’t disengage by putting a screen in front of their faces.
Isolation has an impact! In prisons, everyone knows that solitary confinement is cruel and harsh. Isolation impacts how people cope and function.
- Is this the cause of the rise in teen suicide? Maybe.
- Is this the cause of the rise in bullying? Maybe not.
- Is there a connection between this and school shootings? We don’t know.
What we do know is that these and other similarly bad behaviors are on the rise at a time when people are being isolated by screens. Whether there is a connection or just a coincidence, it is worth thinking about and praying over.
GOING FORWARD …
We’re not condemning anybody or anything. We are, however, reminding readers that each of us was made for God (Jer 29:11). And we were all made for each other.
When you displace God and the people around you from your life, it makes your heart more vulnerable to spiritual and emotional attacks. And when your heart is attacked, the source of your life is in danger.
The next step is yours … take it!