I just got a new cell phone. It's not the newest and the best, but in comparison to the one I had, it's way better. The battery actually lasted all day. My app updates don't fail because of lack of storage. I like it a lot. Technology is amazing! I cannot believe what my phone is capable of, and that's just what I know. It probably does way more than that. For the couple years I have it, I hope it serves me well.
That last phrase is really the big question: Will it serve me or will I serve it? Technology has a dark side. The problem comes when our technology starts to control us, instead of us controlling it. Really, it's not the phone or tablet's fault. It is just metal, plastic, glass and whatever else it's made of. There is nothing evil or dark about these things.
In many regards it reminds me of the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Timothy 6:10 when he talks about money, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Sometimes people will say that money is evil. Money is not evil, it's just paper (I guess polymer if you live in Canada) and metal. It's the love of money that makes it the root of evil. So, getting back to technology, it is not evil but its misuse can be extremely detrimental.
It can be dangerously distracting. I'm glad I live in Ontario and the government has made it illegal to use a phone while driving, but the problem is many continue to do so. I love this commercial that Volkswagen has put out, it shows very clearly the danger.
I have heard of people walking in to manholes, crashing bicycles, walking into walls, falling downstairs, falling into fountains and having to have surgery or physiotherapy because of physical ailments due to over use. We are also just beginning to get the stats on the long term physical affects of phones on people. But they can also easily move from being a dangerous distraction to just being a huge waste of time.
A 2009 study conducted by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence and by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CRE) concluded that the average person spends twenty-eight hours in front of their television each week. This is in addition to the sixteen hours a week, on average, that we spend in front of our computers.
Okay, I'm not a mathematician. Actually, I failed grade 11 academic/advanced math. But according to my calculations, if they are even close to being true, we spend 4.8 hours daily in front of a screen. Some of that time is work related. I am sitting on my computer right now. It's a part of my job. But a lot of times we end up wasting tons of time.
I love games, and I could waste my whole day playing Candy Crush, Trivia Crack, Battle Cats, Angry Birds, Scrabble and whatever other games are out there. I could watch sports or movies all the time. These things aren't necessarily bad, but when they waste so much of our time, they can become a great detriment.
Again the Apostle Paul has some great thoughts on this in Ephesians 5:15-18, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit.”
Paul warns them about the wasting of time and he picks an addictive behaviour as the thing that needs to be avoided. The addiction he chooses is the misuse of alcohol, but the new addiction seems to be technology. I have seen teens weep and grief over broken technology and compare it to the loss of a child. I have seen them have symptoms of withdrawal without their devices. Paul says addictions are unwise and keep us from understanding God's will. He says there is a better alternative… be filled with the spirit.
I found this prayer in a blog by Scotty Smith, the Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, called a “Prayer for a Fresh Stirring and Filling of the Holy Spirit.” I was greatly moved by it and would encourage you to make it your prayer.
One other problem that technology and just busyness in general does, is that it can rob you of the moment that you are in. Almost all of us have experienced a time when they have seen someone so engaged with their technology that they were not even there. I remember the first time I saw this. I was at a restaurant and two people were having lunch, but instead of talking to each other they were on their phones while they ate. They were not fully-present. We need to try and live in the moment – be where we are. How do you do that? Let me give you three suggestions:
- Turn it off. Have technology free parts of your day.
- Tune in. Actively listen to what the person you are talking is saying.
- Don't be in a hurry. Many times we rush, because we think we should be doing something else.
Let your technology serve you, not the other way around.