With all the “stuff” that information technology offers us, are we really coming out on top? We are constantly wired into things that can give us constant anxiety. When we are too thickly immersed in information technology there are certain skills that we fail to develop. It’s not as simple as just counting on the promise of technology to deliver.
So, what do we do with technology? The particulars of technology aren’t addressed in the Bible. There are a lot of decisions that we have to make with technology, that need to be put into the framework, and principles that the scripture does give us direction in. Understanding technology through the lens of discernment.
Ephesians 5:17, Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 5:14 – this is a gift, but it is also a faculty, something that we exercise. Our ability here to discriminate and make choices is commanded by God. It needs to be practiced and developed. It is something that we need to do together.
We hope to accept some of the benefits of technology without the problems. We do this like putting our computers in public spaces. We may have a smart phone, but perhaps we have expectations about what age is acceptable to have one.
There are major benefits, but there are also major pitfalls related to information technology.
Let’s explore some liabilities while connecting them to a purpose.
A Fool With a Tool is Still a Fool
A tool is something that extends the kind of ability and skill and character that is already available to the user of the tool. A “force multiplier” takes a small input and makes the resulting force many multiples more.
The usefulness of a tool are not its features. It is in the character of the person who is using the tool. If you give a fool a tool you’ve only made a dangerous fool. It is a mistake to assume that a tool is a substitute for ability.
When we mistake tools for ability and character and skill, life becomes mired down in all kinds of upgrades and technological tool grabbing. Let us marry the tool to its use, evaluate a tool by what you’re going to do with it.
A limitation isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can inspire creativity. It is a mistake to imagine that technology will improve our character. Technology has closed the gap between our impulses and their satisfaction. It has extended the consequences of our actions.
Matthew 7:18 – If technology is providing us with an identity we’ve taken a major misstep.
Don’t Give Whiskey to the Alcoholic
Tools like alcohol change us into certain kinds of people. An alcoholic has a low resistance to the false promises of alcohol. Because of this low resistance he will partake frequently. If you want to help this person out, don’t give him whiskey, that won’t be helpful.
We all have a similar composition, this helps us to understand each other. At some level we do have similar needs, urges, longings, impulses, etc. This is what makes us people.
We all have a need to belong, an urge to escape, and a longing to make an impact. We use technology for each of these. There is a tradeoff that happens here. Technology does help us in these things, but it also affects us and changes us.
Technology promises to aid us, it sparks our imaginations and giving us an idea of what we could become. We imagine within the confines that are encouraged by our technology. Tools have formational capacity. When we bring our needs and hopes to technology they will form themselves around it.
We all have this need to belong. When we use social media this is a way of quickly and efficiently sharing our needs and the things we are enjoying. Social media and messaging can compliment in person connections, but it cannot replace it.
Most of us, whether we realize it or not, are living for an audience and applause of someone. What do we see when we look out at the world? What technology gives us in this quest to belong is to bring potential for applause into everything we do.
Technology brings into reach the audience of many. This can cause us to look in the word with multiplied, unfocused, simplified eyes. We can very easily begin to live as though that applause of many is what is ultimately going to matter.
Technology and our desire to escape. The plot line of digital media that we consume and the devices we have with us compete with the value of the everyday lives we live. We are often awkwardly straddled between plot lines in our real lives.
Are we going to live in the world which is around us? The lack of glamour. The normalcy. Etc. Or will we take up the plot that is suggested by media and escape the boring lives we have?
When Christ tells us that the Kingdom of God is at hand He is telling us that we don’t need to escape the world to see His Kingdom at hand. The Kingdom of God is here and now, it isn’t just over the hill.
We all want to make an impact in the world. Imagine a world where everyone has their little soapbox to stand on and rage and pontificate and lament. The craving that we all have to make a difference may be satisfied, but the actual change that is made is often very small. Something more has to happen if we actually are going to say that a difference was made.