The influence of technology in our culture is absolutely astounding. In a recent conversation with friends, we talked about the advances that have been made just in our lifetimes. It’s really unbelievable. And when I contemplate it all, I often think to myself, “There’s nothing left to invent. We have it all.” And that’s just when the latest announcement arrives, and the people begin lining up in Times Square. Between televisions, computers, and cell phones, the average American spends an enormous amount of time staring at an electronic screen. And most of us never really stop to question the habit. If anything, we marvel at how much we are able to accomplish. But are we really accomplishing that much?
If I think realistically about my own life, I would have to admit that electronic media doesn’t really increase my output in productivity. If anything it provides more of a distraction. Think about your time on the internet. Are you really getting important things done? Probably not. And the countless text messages you send everyday? And the time you spend status-checking on facebook and twitter?
I’m certainly not advocating a full-scale dismissal of all electronic media from our lives. These things really do help us, providing communication channels, access to information, and a host of other benefits. But as Christians we are called to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). We are part of a kingdom that is breaking in, and every moment is precious. Every moment carries eternal weight. Life and death is always at stake.
The brain is a unique organ. And scientists and doctors still really don’t understand all that much about it. But study after study shows that over-stimulation to technology does have consequences. Take Kord Campbell for example. He lives with a computer on 24 hours a day. His iPad accompanies him to breakfast, and he falls asleep with it on his chest at night. Has this affected him? Ask his wife. “It seems like he can no longer be fully in the moment.” The article goes on to quote his 8-year-old daughter playfully telling her father that he loves technology more than family. Is this what we’re coming to? Sure this is an extreme case. But how much does your use of technology affect the relationships you have? Do you want your child one day saying this about you?
The Bible has a word it uses for things we can’t get enough of. Things that we allow to control us. Things that we just can’t live without. It calls these things “idols.” And I’ve always been fascinated by the description given in Scripture of how an idol can completely take over someone’s life: “Those who make [idols] become like them; so do all who trust in them” (Ps. 115:8). Are we recreating ourselves in the image of electronic media? Are we cultivating heart habits of distraction and superficiality as a result of the constant barrage of images and meaningless information.
I thinks it’s time for a soul check…