The Cost of Distraction

by Jill Schmidt

Jill Schmidt is a member of Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s Dialogue Resource Team. She lives in Denver. This piece originally rain in MSMC’s Zing newsletter.

One of the biggest changes we face as people of faith is the society-wide impact of rapidly evolving technology and distractions.

This past month, I spent a weekend retreat with a group of First Mennonite of Denver youth. We intentionally relinquished our cellphones for 24 hours as we explored the meaning of Sabbath in our lives.

Through this process, I came upon a prayer in the 2010 winter edition of Seasoned with Peace, a daily meditation book compiled by Susan Mark Landis, Lisa J. Amstutz, and Cindy Snider. These lines from the January 5 prayer contributed by Don Clymer stand out to me in particular, “I confess that I too often plunge myself into busyness to distract myself from the pain of the losses I have experienced personally or from the brokenness of the world I see around me….Help me not to deviate from your paths because of the distractions around me.”

As I observed the responses of our youth varying from boredom and distress to relief and comfort, I found myself wondering how times have changed so quickly.

I am considered by many to still be a young adult and yet cell phones were not an active part of my life until my 20s and the internet was just catching speed in high school. And here we are, so dependent and connected to others and information at all times, and yet simultaneously Continue reading