In the previous post, I offered observations about the nature of technology and how the biblical storyline (Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation) helps us think about technology. In essence, technology is using things created by God to amplify our abilities, but such abilities also come with a cost (on this side of the fall into sin); thus we should be not afraid or absorbed by technology, but adopt it and adapt it to help technology as a way to love God and love others. In this post, I want to give seven practical principles that emerged in my thinking about technology after reflecting on its nature and the biblical storyline.
1. Be Slow
There is a rush in our world to always get the most updated piece of technology, and most technology is based on the principle that you should be able to get this – NOW! However, I think there is a great value in waiting a bit. I say that because the new technology that emerges does not come with instructions about its possible glitches – in part because people aren’t aware of them (yet!). While medicines go through trials to determine whether they are effective and if there are any risks (or side effects), technology does not go through that same kind of testing. There might be some safety tests (will this cause a fire, etc.), but the societal, mental, and emotional impacts are rarely considered by those making and marketing new technology. Of course, there is a need for some “early-adopters,” but if you are an early-adopter, you functionally are in the clinical trial. As you use the new technology, don’t just think about what it does, but also what else might be happening inside of you or your relationships with others. What are the “side effects?” A benefitt of waiting to get the most recent technology is that it often goes down in price….and by the time you get it, those who purchased it right away will be able to help you use it!
2. Be Selective
You don’t have to have it all! While we might be afraid of “missing out” if we don’t have the latest and greatest piece of technology, we need to know that such a fear is manufactured – by those who are seeking to sell these things to us! Because we can’t possibly master all of the latest and greatest updates or utilize it to its fullest degree, we need to realize that joy can be found in contentment and simplicity. This does not mean rejecting all technology, but thinking through what will really benefit us.
3. Be Real
When it comes to technology, I think it is important for us to be real about what problem this piece of technology is promised to solve. Is it really resolving a problem or limitation that you feel is hurting your life or hindering you from loving God and loving others well, or is it creating a problem so that it can then solve it? If technology really does solve a problem, is it the best or only way to solve the problem? Are there other means of doing so that may not have the same sort of side effects, impact, or cost? When it comes to technology, are you purchasing the one that is most cost effective? This might not necessarily mean the cheapest one (as you may need to replace it because it breaks more easily or becomes obsolete sooner due to system updates), but if technology is about amplifying our abilities, our focus should be on solving the problems and not simply having the latest and greatest to impress others.
4. Be Reflective (on your priorities)
What is most important in your life? Is technology (in general or types of technology in particular) helping or hindering you from pursuing your priorities? If you are a Christian, your priorities should be to love God and love others. Does technology help you do these things? Of course, the technology might not directly connect you with God or others, but rather may save time and energy to create more space with others. Having some technology that helps in terms of leisure and entertainment is not wrong, as there is value in helping us recharge to serve others. An interesting element of Tony Reinke’s God, Technology, and the Christian Life was his discussion of the Amish and how they think through technology. While we might come to different conclusions, the questions they ask in terms of whether technology will help us love God more and care for our neighbors (or become enthralled with this world and alienated from other neighbors) are ones that I think most of us don’t ask. We wonder if we can afford it or figure it out, not whether or not we should have it (does it help me become who I want to be)?
5. Be Mindful of Others
This is somewhat related to what was mentioned above, but with a little twist. Not only should we ask if technology is helping us love others, but also what our use of technology says and speaks to those around us. This is particularly true for those who are married or parents. Do we want our spouse or kids to have the same habits that we have when it comes to technology? How do they feel about our use of technology? Do they see it helping me become the person I say I want to be?
6. Be Honest (with Yourself)
We have a way of deceiving ourselves. We try to convince ourselves that we need something, that we can handle something, or that we can stop or go without something – if we wanted to. But we need to be honest with ourselves about our dependence on technology, especially in the internet/smartphone age. Could you go a day without using certain pieces of technology? Do you spend more time thinking about technology or God? Are you being shaped more by technology than by the Word of God? Do you trust technology more than you trust God? One of the best skills to check your dependency is to try to go without, to really show that you can function without something for a time. That might be a good check to see if you are dependent on technology or if you are being used by technology.
7. Be Human
My wife recently attended a conference in which this was the theme, and I liked the idea and thought it connected with technology. We need to remember that we are humans, we are body and soul and meant to rest and relate to others. We will never overcome the limits of our humanity. We will die. We will get tired. We need rest. And we were designed to be in relationships. Therefore, don’t let technology get in the way of being in relationship with people and connected to the physical world. Be with flesh and blood. Use technology to serve and help relationships, not to replace them.
Questions about the Bible or theology? Email them to Pastor Brian at Theology@WeAreFaith.org. You can also request to receive weekly emails with our blog posts by filling out the information on the right side.