So yesterday my wife started a new 2 year lockdown with Sprint by getting a new phone. She has now joined me in the land of iPhone. It seemed like a logical step considering her love affair with her iPad. Anyway...we really only intended to "look" at new phone options in the midst of a walk past our neighborhood Sprint portal. We were going to look, leave, consider, return, purchase. However, in communicating her desire to spend literally nearly nothing on this exchange due to the near mortgage cost of her current but disappointing EVO, the customer service rep made a brilliantly calculated move. He offered her the iPhone (remember the iPad ) for free. Since I'm the only one alive who would jump at that quicker than she, needless to say, he had her at free. Remember that I have already stated that we were not prepared to actually grab a new phone...we were on a walk after all... And if you realized my age, you'd appreciate how important that it was to continue on it. So we did.... And we left the discarded EVO to have its worth transferred to the new phone. We came back almost an hour later and it was still in transfer mode. I fact it still had 30 minutes to go. So I'm fairly technical and I noticed, upon spying on the transfer setup that the delay was being caused by the incredibly bizarre amount of images being transferred. I add bizarre because she rarely uses the phone for any sort of images. She rarely takes photos, even more rarely takes video, and has practically never downloaded anything. Imagine my surprise when, upon finally receiving and examining the phone, we discovered nearly 2000 images. Only about 150 of them originated with her efforts. The rest were a phone version of spam. Her phone was nearly overrun with it. For months she has been getting low or no available space warnings. Somewhere along the course of the past two years, various sources have felt the right to dump crap into her source of life and communication.
So it occurred to me that, ultimately, people are somewhere behind the spam in technological circles, just as they are in relational circles. Nearly every day we are exposed to others "spamming" of our lives...intentional or not. People, especially hurting people, have a way and or need to dump on others lives. It is just the way it is. All of us have done it, all of us have had it done to us. Some of us, short of a supernatural spiritual intervention are never going to stop. Seem of us, short of the same intervention, are not going to be able to take anymore. It acts the same within us as it does on our technical devices. It clogs our life, it slows us down, it takes up all available resources. We could choose drastic relational choices. Many people have. We can run away. We can self medicate. We can lash out. Or just maybe we can learn from the tech companies in their battles to neutralize spam. We can set filters. We can set limits. They would look different in every life certainly. Here are some that I have found helpful in a profession where spam can indeed be a hazard:
"Limit your exposure" ... You know what and who can tend to clog your life...set boundaries to how much and how many you can be exposed to and keep a reasonable level of sanity. You may need to literally stay away from some sources during certain rhythms of your life...or at least literally schedule the blocks of exposure...and I do mean appointment style, and not open ended appointments.
"Watch your energy (storage) capacity". Make sure that your personal life has a balance between people who give and people who take. This will give you what you need to listen and be present in the lives of people who need you to be there.
"Do not open". Be aware of the relationships that you have and the hot buttons that cause a spam dump. Listen more than you speak. Relational spammers tend to thrive on open channels and will turn every conversation that you initiate or elaborate on into their issue (read ... Never ending)
"Engage a professional" when necessary... Either for yourself or the spammer. I am pretty tech knowledgeable but even had I known the extent of the crap in my wife's phone, I would have gone right into the store to have a tech deal with the issue. Ironically, the longer that I've been a pastor, the more aware I am that I don't know a great deal about "pastoring" people in a great deal of their situations. I am very quick to refer to the professionals. It is best for those I am pastoring, and its best for me. It leaves me with the energy to deal with the things I can and need to deal with.