My giant, rambling family has dinner at my parents’ house almost every Sunday. And every Sunday, all of us, nerds and gadgeteers to the core, sit in my mother’s living room with our noses pointed at our phones, Nintendo DS’s, Kindles, laptops, tablets, iPads, iPods…you name it.

We love our cool toys.  We love to talk about them, and share them, and talk about why ours is so interesting and what it does that others don’t do.  We get really excited about technology.  But there is a dark side to all this nerd-love.

One Sunday, not too long ago, Mom came out into the living room and announced that dinner was ready and no one moved.  Mom had spent more than two hours cooking for the 30 of us, so she was a little miffed, to say the least.

“All right, you guys! Step away from the technology and no one gets hurt!”


And so it was decreed that Thanksgiving would be a Technology-Free Day.  And even though she didn’t make everyone comply completely, there were a lot fewer foreheads forward and a lot more mouths moving.

In our technology-saturated world it is easy to let the ease of surface-level communication take over. 

Using Facebook makes it easy to see what someone miles away is up to today and it becomes a curiosity to see what they are doing rather than listen to Aunt Helga tell you about the time she stepped on the ping pong ball during the Girls Table Tennis Finals in 1938, because you’re bored.  Sure, it looks like you’re listening, but believe me, Aunt Helga knows you’re on Facebook.

Personal connection is the way that we build and maintain real, living relationships.  Just like encountering the Living God in the Blessed Sacrament, we need to encounter the image and likeness of Him in the people around us.  To ignore them in favor of our cool toys is to ignore God’s call to be united as one in Him.

On Christmas, many people gave (and received) nifty toys and gadgets to their kids and spouses. The inevitable draw of the sleek packaging and feel of a well-crafted new tool in your hand is a hard thing to break away from.  But it would be a mistake to ignore Christ’s presence in our very homes, within our very families on His Birthday and throughout this special season.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2012 Katie O'Keefe