A note from Jim:
Blake Atwood is an editor, ghostwriter, and wordsmith who helps writers tell better stories, choose the right path to publication, and know how to best market their words. He has a degree in English from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
He tells me that he was once featured in the Wall Street Journal because he used the word albatross in a blog post. (I’m not sure how that happened . . .) He is a gifted editor and communicator; I am sure you’ll appreciate his article today.
Would you shop at Walmart in a “virtual showroom”?
The company recently applied for intellectual property patents that would allow VR headset owners to browse their store shelves via virtual reality. The experience may still be years away, but Walmart is working on this VR experience to woo consumers away from their chief rival, Amazon.
However, as Katelyn Lunt has proven, Amazon has achieved their preferred consumer status by making the shopping experience so simple a six-year-old can order almost $400 worth of toys from her mom’s account.
Of course, Katelyn wasn’t supposed to order that much.
She just wanted to check her mom’s computer for the delivery date of a Barbie her mom had ordered as a reward for doing chores. But how could Katelyn refuse the allure of Amazon presenting dozens of other Barbie-themed items to her?
A few clicks later–including checking the box for two-day shipping–Katelyn had ordered herself a rather large collection of Barbies. The photos accompanying the article, with Katelyn grinning in front of a tower of delivered boxes, speak volumes about her feelings on the outcome.
What really matters
Closer to home, I recently spent time with my Fortnite-playing eleven-year-old nephew. We discussed his interests, which, unsurprising to most any parent with a preteen boy, centered on gaming.
I also spoke with my twin teenage nieces, casually asking them about the rules their parents had set for texting. They were kind enough to answer and didn’t seem too terribly embarrassed that their uncle was inquiring about their texting habits.
During our conversations, I couldn’t help but think how different the world is in which they’re growing up compared even to my generation. (Apparently, I’m a Xennial.)
My interrogations were motivated by my future, namely, how am I going to raise my three-year-old son in a world that longs to steal his attention away from what really matters?
At this point, I’m tempted to quote most of Andy Crouch’s book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, but this should suffice:
“We are continually being nudged by our devices toward a set of choices. The question is whether those choices are leading us to the life we actually want. I want a life of conversation and friendship, not distraction and entertainment; but every day, many times a day, I’m nudged in the wrong direction. One key part of the art of living faithfully with technology is setting up better nudges for ourselves.”
Note how Crouch’s words aren’t about his children; they’re about himself.
If I want to raise my son well in a technology-saturated culture, I don’t have to argue with him about screen time.
I have to put my phone down first.
Set your mind
Whenever I pause to consider what I’m being distracted by, Colossians 3:2 springs to mind: “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Matthew Henry expounds: “As heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, both cannot be followed together; and affection to the one will weaken and abate affection to the other.”
Then I think of C. S. Lewis’ oft-quoted passage from The Weight of Glory: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
And when we are far too easily pleased, we model that for our children.
But we can choose a different path–a different nudge.
The rest of the story
Katelyn’s Amazon-ordering adventure didn’t end on her doorstep.
By the time her mother had canceled a few items, many more had already been shipped. Catherine considered returning the toys, but then she had an idea. She “wanted to use the experience to show her daughter a lesson in generosity.”
So they took the toys to the children’s hospital where Katelyn had been a patient shortly after her birth and donated them all–except for the Barbie Katelyn had been initially promised.
In other words, Katelyn’s mom modeled what it looks like to turn a technological fiasco into something that looks a lot like what happens above.