I was reading in Leadership Journal and this statement was made by 29 year old Jonathan Merritt in an article entitle ‘Outlooks on Outreach’: “… racism was a blind spot for my dad's generation. But at least now they do see it, and people like my dad have confessed it as a sin. I'm not sure my generation even sees our blind spots yet. For instance, my generation is addicted to our technology, but we don't have a clue how this is affecting our spiritual lives.”
I don’t think it’s just a younger generation that is addicted to technology and I believe that most of us haven’t figured out whether or not technology is good or bad for our soul. And for those who believe soul care care benefits from technology I wonder if some thinking has to be done as to when enough is enough.
My own experience with technology lends me to believe that it has the ability to consume me. I am hugely wired compared to many. I have four email accounts, I tweet occasionally, and I blog, Facebook is a must see every day (often every day). I have a Kindle, an ipod, iphone and an ipad. I love my Apple TV. And I don’t like to check into a hotel that doesn’t have internet access. So, is all this good for my soul or not?
My admission. At first blush technology takes me further from God and doesn’t bring me closer to Him. It has often kept me from eye to eye contact with people I care about. The time I spend randomly accessing random things could be better spent in some rather old-fashioned things like prayer, reading Scripture, helping others, and face to face conversation.
So, am I ready to go back to a rotary phone, an abacus, and a typewriter? Hardly. A second look at my technology habit makes me realize that all too often it controls me instead of my controlling it. When I control it, technology is a great tool. A really great tool. When it controls me then it becomes my priority instead of being the means to a greater end.
Dallas Willard talks about having a Vision, Intention, and Means for our life (VIM). My vision for my spiritual and relational life is not to have it consumed by technology. Instead, it is to cultivate the habits necessary to grow my soul and my friendships. I want to expand my potential in each area and not limit it.. Deciding how to use technology wisely and in appropriate time constraints can help me in my soul cultivation and relational connectivity.
If I don’t have the proper intentionality I will be guided by the tyranny of the urgent. And one thing technology is adept at delivering is the notion that everything is urgent and important. It’s not. Much of what I do with technology has no importance whatsoever.
Could I live without technology? Certainly. But I do love some of the simple pleasures it brings to my life. I love carrying a huge library of books and music in a tiny package. I don’t miss pay phones. And typing on a laptop beats that old typewriter any day of the year. So, getting rid of technology is not something I’m yearning to do.
But hear me. Technology is problematic for me. Maybe for you too. It’s not just some kind of neutral force. It has an ability to snatch our time and energy. It’s use gives the appearance of productivity. It becomes, all too often, the means and the end. It defines our vision instead of serving it. It can become a god of sorts. That should concern us.