I am totally frustrated with technology. With all our advancements, we are going backwards. With progress, comes regress. There was a time when our grandparents had to speak on party lines and there was no such thing as an area code. If you needed to talk to someone, you got an operator and they connected you. Not any longer.
Okay, you get an operator, but you don’t know if they are in the same town or Taiwan. And before you can give them the complete information, they cut you off and you get a recording of the number you are requesting. Then, they tell you they will automatically connect you – meanwhile they are advertising in your ear while you are trying to remember the number (knowing you’re going to get cut off at some point). Frustrating!
During Hurricane Francis, I lost power and cable. Others lost power, cable or satellite. No matter what you do, you can’t talk to someone local. You can’t find a local number in the phone book. No wonder people go postal these days. It’s frustrating when you have a problem and they tell you to call an 800 number. Who am I talking to? A recording. I have to give them my phone number and then a pre-recorded voice tells me there is a problem in my area. But what problem? Where is it? When can I expect it to be fixed? Is anyone even working on Labor day?
Five hours later, the power came on. I guess it was a miracle. The power never went off at the houses down the street. Was I targeted by terrorist? Was it a demonic attack on my day off? I don’t know, I couldn’t find anyone who could answer my question.
Twenty four hours later, I still have no TV reception. I called an 800 number twice. I got a recorded message. Am I the only one affected? When can I expect to be able to watch the weather channel and find out what’s going on? I don’t know, I can’t get anyone on the phone?
I’m wondering when my pizza place is going to require me to call in my delivery to an 800 number if China? Will my plumber require me to enter a sixteen digit number into a recorder so he can verify that I’m actually one of his customers? Will trash pick up resort to an 800 number to call if you need something cleared off my property?
There was a day when I could call my Bank branch and actually speak to the officer who handled my accounts. Now, I look in the phone book and there’s one number for twenty branches. Can’t I just call my branch? Please?
Where’s the opportunity to give feedback? Where’s the opportunity to say the service is unacceptable? Where’s a real live human being I can talk to? It may not be any better, but I’d feel a whole lot better about it. At least I would know someone was listening. At this point, I’m afraid my phone calls are floating in cyberspace. What happened to the good old days when the phone company, TV company, actually had real live people answering the phone. Have we gotten so sophisticated we can’t be personal?
I was trying to order something on-line the other day and kept getting this message that I wasn’t providing the proper information. I would have called and placed the order if they had given me a phone number. I send an email inquiry regarding the issue, I got an answer three days later. Apparently, they didn’t want my business. Oh, and by the way, they told me to do what I had been doing. I did it, and it still didn’t work. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box but I do know how to fill out a form. They lost the sale.
Yes, we have an automated answering system at the church but we also have a real life receptionist at the desk as well. The only time you’ll get the automated answer is after hours or if she’s tied up on another line. An expense we incur to make sure we are connected with our membership.
Every staff member has a cell phone so that he can stay in touch with those he works with. This is an expense, but it also allows people to get the staff member on call if there is an emergency or crisis. We list the deacon of the week in the Communicator so you can get to a deacon if you have a need or emergency during their week.
Progress? I’m not sure. We have more technology than ever before. We have Instant Message, Voice Mail, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Speed Dial, Caller ID, Email, Computers, wireless connections, palm pilots and a dozen other gadgets but we are less connected than we’ve ever been.
I’m holding out hope that it will get better. Surely my TV signal doesn’t have to go out every time there’s a ten mile per hour breeze? Surely the signal doesn’t have to be grainy when broadcasts are now in HDTV. Surely my cell phone will start working and keep a signal inside the city limits. Surely, they can figure out how to run the power lines underground in a city of pine trees.
There is one constant that I can count on. I have a straight line to the throne of heaven. No party lines, although my Lord is talking to billions of people at the same time. No call waiting, He is there when I call. No call forwarding, He doesn’t have angels listening on the line, He takes His own calls. My Father never puts me on hold while another call is coming in. I never get a busy signal. It never has to ring a dozen times before He picks up.
He ever lives to make intercession for me. He has told me to call on Him so He can show me great and mighty things. There are no 800 numbers in heaven. There are no voice recordings. There’s no waiting. You really can reach out and touch Him when you take it to the Lord in prayer. I’m thankful He doesn’t forward me to someone in Taiwan. I get to go straight to the throne of grace.
© Michael Catt, 2005.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.