We took part in our “Technology Fast” the week of January 23rd through 29th and I would say it was a success. While I had to use the computer and some other technology at work, the rest of the family did a great job of cutting way back. As a family we only used the computer a few, times to fulfill some obligations, but in general did not use the computer and thus email for the week. We also, except for using the stove, used very little electricity even relying on oil lamps and some battery powered lamps at night.
So how did things go? Well I can tell you we as a family played more games than we ever have and some family members read more than normal. Also, I learned that my face had grown wimpy by using my electric shaver because the first time I used a razor, which I had not used in many years, was somewhat painful. We also found that we, out of habit, just turn on lights as we enter a room and kept finding ourselves having to turn around and turn them off or catch ourselves reaching for the switch. In not using the lights we also found that we had to reschedule what we do as showers needed to be done earlier rather than later as well as getting dishes washed were better done in the morning so you could see what was being cleaned. It was noticeable that due to technology we do much less planning and while that is convenient that is not necessarily the best practice. These are just a few of the things that we learned.
What was most important about this fast was what we learned about technology and our interaction with it and not necessarily the technology itself. When I first wrote about the fast most comments I received were positive but a few people thought that it was a misplaced focus as the issue was not technology but man’s use of it. To that objection I mostly agree but that does not give technology a free pass. We need to look at technology and judge it not just on the benefits it may bring but also the issues it may create and the dependence it may garner. So while technology itself is not the issue we do need to evaluate how we deal with and often gain an over reliance on it.
Due to our comfort with all that is around us we too often think we can take or leave technology but that is not necessarily so. Regardless of how discerning we may think we are, if we are not careful technology will end up owning us and not us it. As an example, while I see that good can come from such things as Facebook I also think that the dangers are downplayed far too often. What we tend to do is look at a technology and find some good and camp on that without asking how things would be without such technology. Would communication be more difficult? Would it be slower and also lead to not meeting some people? The answer to both is yes but that does not mean that is a bad thing. We judge too many things by where we are now rather than where we might be without a particular technology.
Being that I am using technology to question it, I guess I need to be careful how I approach this subject in not wanting to be a hypocrite. The issue truly is that we need to seek to be more discerning with our use of technology and if we were more discerning I probably would not feel the need to use this technology to write this article. I should add that I also am employed in such a manner that I use technology every day, and some quite advanced technology at that, so what would happen if some of the technology I use did not exist. That is easy, God would still be sovereign and I would do something else. Man existed for along time without the technology we have today so, as I already said, we need to be careful when judging technology not to start where were we are but instead look at where we would be and where we can still go with the correct use of technology or lack of it.
We cannot get rid of technology since the clothes we wear, the tools we use to cook, the paper we write on and so much more are technology. No, I am not for becoming a Luddite but I would encourage us to ask many of the questions the Luddites have asked. We could learn from the Amish and others that have taken the simple path by asking questions about the technology around us and by applying biblically derived principles to all that is around us. We may arrive at different answers than others have reached but we would be better off due to the process.
At the heart of all of this is the heart. It is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9) and when faced with using technology our flesh will use it as those at Babel did in the bricks they created, to reach God, or at the heart of it to be as God. So we need to be discerning, critical and wise in our development of technological advances. There may be things that are in and of themselves harmless but when judged as how they will be used, or abused, may be better left undeveloped. For other things we would be wise to minimize their use and develop lives that are not so tied and dependent on any particular technology so that we cannot live without it, which is often not realized until it is too late.
We as a family will be doing this again, even though our date of when will change due an up coming move. As before the goal will be to learn how to live apart from the technology we are so used to if God should lead to a time when we will not have it at our disposal. We all think we can get by without much of the technology we use daily but I can assure you when faced with the actual prospect of not being able to use it if you are like us and many others you will find that it is not as easy as you may have thought.
I would encourage you to have your own technology fast and it can be as big or small as you like. But remember to make sure the focus is not simply to get by but learn what it is we really rely on; the stuff around us or the God that supplies and allows for that stuff to exist.