016: Three Pieces of Glass
On the Mortification of Spin podcast there was an interview with Eric Jacobsen about his book Three Pieces of Glass, a book that seeks to address the loneliness crisis and the importance of belonging – the right kind of belonging.
What stood out in the interview was the explanation of the book’s title Three Pieces of Glass. What are these three pieces of glass and how have they each contributed to loneliness?
The three pieces are 1) the car windscreen, 2) the TV, and 3) the smartphone.
The impact of each is that though making life easier they stop human interaction.
The car has meant that people no longer walk to places or take public transport. It actually goes further than this, changing the configuration of living space (houses have garages and driveways), as well as the distance we live from places we work and shop.
The TV has meant that we get to know people (TV friends) who make no demands on us and with whom communication is only one way (from them to us).
The smartphone has meant that those places where the possibility of engaging with others remained like queues in shop, school pick ups, are now occupied by scrolling through social media feeds. The result is that our human interactions have shifted from face to face to virtual, from in-front of you to anywhere in the world.
Listening to the interview a two thoughts came to mind:
First, I think there is a real benefit to local churches having members who actually live in the community the churches is based. Obviously this isn’t always possible, but it does help if possible a local church is a local church.
Second, I need to remember the disadvantages of these screens are still there even though in this COVID season, they have been shown to have benefits. Prayer meetings on Zoom have worked well and have made them accessible to more of the members and congregation. Services live-streamed on YouTube has worked well as a good alternative when live in-person not possible. WhatsApp can be used to send out daily encouragements to a large number in the church.
(Photo: Julia Joppien)