Technology! There is nothing like it. It used to be so simple and waiting rooms used to be quite things where the only sound was the occasional flip of a magazine page, a muffled cough and perhaps a murmured conversation. Then came the beepers. I still recall having to pull to the side of the road in the pouring rain to answer a page from my boss and that allowed him to add another appointment to my Friday calls. Then comes the car phone age... Thankfully, I avoided those big black phone bags!
Then... my doctor called while I’m forking chimmychunga into my mouth. So I talk to him about my blood work and my medication while there are... oh... about 40 people within hearing distance. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say anything personal, or have to talk too loud.
Then, I get caught in the middle of Walmart right between the T-shirts and capri pants and this would have been a for real, honest to goodness JOB interview, if I’d been at home in front of my trusty laptop. But, no, I’m standing there watching my Mom rummage through T-shirts with her magnifying glass to find the right size while I’m trying to talk about government contracts. I felt totally displaced and inadequate.
How can anyone talk business like that? God did not intend for us to do business like that. If He had, He would have invented cell phones along with Man.
“Adam...this is God. Adam… ?”
“The party you are trying to reach is out of the service area. Please try your call again at a later time.”
On second thought... maybe that is exactly what happened.
I took a technology break... vacation... tech fast, what ever term you would like to use. I did not totally unplug, but I did unplug enough to have an eye-opening experience. Other people have taken Facebook breaks too...
I felt all of these “symptoms” (except for Lent) as technology crept into my life several years ago. As I developed habits with technology (mainly my computer for school, and my online Bible study group where we discussed and studied all parts of the Bible), I noticed other things falling apart in my life. Dust built up on furniture, beds remained unmade, cooking consisted of anything I could throw in the crockpot. I didn’t exercise as much. My life circle was warped.
Big Ideas I took away from my tech fast:
1. I must make time for more physical activity. Instead of a balanced wheel, I was bumping along with work and spiritual parts poking out like arrows and the physical and social part of my life was deflated to almost flat. These past few days taught me I have slipped back into those old ways without even realizing it. Although, I prided myself on minimizing, pride goeth before destruction I've read.
2. Priorities: God has given me a gift of time so I must be a good steward of it. My favorite quote from Understanding Evangelical Media is what I posted in class chat last night in that “The ultimate test of Christians’ use of media is applied faithfulness” (Schultze & Woods, 2008, p. 28). This will be part of my technology plan. I will always try to please God with my use of media and technology. I have tried to do that with nixing certain TV shows and movies because of content, but it isn’t enough when I should be making sure my Wheel of Life rolls smoothly rather than bumpily.
3. Habits: I have heard since high school the “bad” effects of watching too much television, and McKibben points out McLuhan’s point that we watch TV out of habit rather than to see something specific. Over the years I have cut out of TV watching that kind of habit, but I’ve noticed this week that I have a habit of watching TV to wind down so that I can sleep. I have not yet decided if that is bad or good. A friend pointed out that “technology could be a good ‘break’ and used to refresh and relax” (Amber Ellsworth, personal communication, March 7, 2013). I do commit to praying about this over the next few weeks for God to give me insight in what He would have me do about my technology habits.
4. Nicholas Carr (“Google Makes Us Stupid”, and The Shallows) designed an innovation of technology which I have found interesting (posted above). The pyramid shape is like Maslow’s needs pyramid. I think the Technologies of the Self should go right above Technologies of Social Organization and add in work skills to support self. Then Technologies of Leisure should go on top which would include Internet, television, radio, sports technologies, etc. if we are to have a well-ordered and balanced life.
Here's the key: If we are worldly, then self does become priority. When we are Believers in Christ, we get our identity from Him. What do you think?
McKibben, B. (2006). The age of missing information. New York: Random House.
Schultze, Q. J. & Woods, R. H. (2008). Understanding Evangelical Media. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.