How often do we take technology for granted and just accepted it? How often do we look past the moment and truly contemplate the impact technology will have in the future? Do we own technology or does it own us? These, and more, are questions we need to ask when faced with any new, or for that matter, current, technology. This is not a matter of seeking to avoid all forms of technology or simply calling all technology bad as we need to realize technology comes in many forms. The clothes we wear, the utensils we use and many other things that we utilize in everyday life are all a result of some form of technology. No, what we need to do is look at all technology with an eye to its impact on us and the world that God has called us to steward and to do so from a Biblical perspective.
While the Bible does not necessarily speak directly to a particular technology we can ask ourselves how any particular technology will affect our lives in light of how God would have us live and glorify Him. For example; when we see a technology that will work to divide a family we can know that whatever the technology is it needs to be seriously scrutinized and either minimize in its use or avoided all together. Also, if a technology will take over ones life, as so many tend to do, and leave little time for God then we need to deal with that so as to avoid its impact of our walk with God.
One book I highly recommend with regards to getting one to think about technology and our interaction with it is Michael Bunker’s book Surviving Off Off-Grid. Even if you feel you have no desire to live off grid or do not think that society will crumble Bunker asks some probing questions that will make one think about their relationship with technology. The world puts forth that to question technological advances is somehow being backward and ignorant. However, the issue is not just about whether one accepts a certain technology or not but whether we have thought through the implications of its use. These implications are not to be limited to the present but also to its impact on future generations as well.
If we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that with all the promises of technology saving us time and effort we are as busy as ever, maybe busier. We have been duped by the allure of what we are told technology can offer and bought into the lie. A lie that says leisure is just around the next technological corner but what we will find around the corner is another corner and another marvel to buy and consume our time and affections.
We live in a consumer based economy and thus technology needs to be in a constant state of change so as to always be creating the possibility of selling one more item, one more gadget. Thus, we need to be vigilant so as not to get caught up in this trap of consumerism and keeping up with technology which will never happen since as soon as you buy the latest wonder it will be obsolete and you will need to buy the next one.
When it comes to any technology what we need to do is to stop, take a breath, and ask if technology is being used by us or are we being used by it. If tomorrow the Internet was to go down many would be lost. If we had no electricity for a day, weeks or even months what would we do? I am not even talking about survival here but what would be our mindset. Would we sit in front of our TVs or computers pining away for it come back online? Would we be lost since all our “friends” are on Facebook, Google+ or some other social network and we realize we have no personal contact with “actual” people? What would we do with all our free time, would we remember how to read, how to talk to family or could we even find the kitchen?
Let me confess; I have made connections with people on Facebook that I do consider friends and I have corresponded with people via my blog and other connections on the Internet. But in truth it was so much more meaningful when I could actually meet these people face to face or at a minimum was able to at least talk on the phone with them. Technology has allowed me to learn and share insights that would have taken longer and been more difficult if it had not existed. I can see the good that has come via technology. However, I have to admit I have not been as discerning as I should be in monitoring my use of technology as I have, as many of us, been sucked up into the black hole of “technological acceptance.”
As I write this article on my laptop to be posted over the Internet I wonder if I am a hypocrite in questioning technology. I would say that I would be if I was saying all technology, at anytime, was wrong. What I want to stress is that we need to seriously ask questions about the technology we use and how we use it. As I have already said we need to ask what the consequences of any technology could be. We need to be constantly aware of our reliance, and often total dependence, on technology and work to avoid such dependence. Of course if you are like me and live in the city or have a job that is technology driven it is difficult. We do need to ask if we have a plan for what to do if for some reason God decides to pull the plug? What will we do when He moves to show us that we need to rely more on Him than Microsoft, Mac or Dell. Most of us do not have any plans and until recently I had not even contemplated such a scenario. Michael Bunker’s book, and a few others I have read recently, have made me begin to think about these things more deeply.
One example of technology, and its associated mindset, being blindly accepted without much reservation was the Industrial Revolution. When we entered the Industrial Revolution Christians did not ask the questions they should have and we have thus paid a heavy price. We as believers did not ask what God would have us do by looking at the affect the Industrial Revolution would have on His people. The following articles make some very good observations with regards to the impact of technology on mankind:
Reforming the Family – Rev. Brian M. Abshire
Machines and Family (Pt 1 of Series) – Howard king
Industrialism: Rooted in Greed (Pt. 2 of Series) – Howard king
The Efficiency Invasion: How Industrialism Destroyed the Traditional Family (Pt. 3 of Series) – Howard king
Efficiency vs the Family – Scott Terry
This all said what should we do, and thus the reason for the name of this post. Throughout this article I have mentioned questions we need to ask but we need to go further. We need to take action so that we do not become more dependent on technology than on God. To do this my family has decided to challenge ourselves and go on a technology fast for a week, once every 2 months. During that time we will work to minimize our use of the technology we have come to so rely on. Apart from work, as I do have to make a living and am sure my employer would not want to go along, there will be no computers, thus no internet. I think Facebook can live without me. We will only use our phones for emergencies and with regards to cooking be limited to our stove. Of course if we lived in a different environment we might be able to limit our use of technology even further, but this is a start. Actually even making a decision to do this showed some of our over reliance and desire for technology in our family. There were some in the family that balked a little since until we talk about curtailing our use of technology we did not realize how dependent we had become on it.
In taking part in this “technology fast’ we hope to grow closer to God. Not necessarily because of the lack of technology but because of the time we will have that is no longer absorbed by the technology we use. I am hoping and praying that our time in family devotions will grow and our interacting as a family will flourish. Let me say, if this is done purely to simply say we have avoided technology I think we would miss the point. No, we want to do this so that we can realize how dependent we have become on technology, often at the cost of our dependence on God, and work by God’s strength to rely on Him as we should.
I encourage you to join us as we seek to set technology aside, as best you can, for a week. Our first Technology Fast will take place from January 23nd to January 29th. If you need to start on a different week that is great since it is not the dates that matter but that we seek to do something. I encourage you to share your thoughts on joining us and after the week, whether it be the same as us or another week, share what God did in the life of your family during the week.
This, as with all things needs to be done for His glory and that needs to be at the forefront of our minds. Let us grow closer to Him as we remove those things that often are seemingly good but end up impinging on time with Him, with family and with ones church.
Previous Posts in this Series:
GMOs: An Agricultural Tower of Babel?