Friday, January 13, 2012
Technology does not come without a price tag...
This is first of all a measure of our wealth that we spend more on technology than utility bills (gas, electric, water and sewer). Second it tells us where our priorities are as people. Third it suggests that if we are convinced of the need, we will find the funds to cover the cost of our addictions.
I was amazed at the interviews of those who stood in line for the I-Phone 5 and was shocked to hear that several of those who were ditching their 4s in favor of the % were unemployed, one a late twenty-something who was living in his parents' basement without a job for more than 9 months. He said he had pretty much given up looking. But... that did not dissuade him from finding the dollars for the latest and greatest in technological toys.
The Church is not immune from the pressure to spend more on technology that may enhance but does not necessarily support or extend the work of ministry. My email box and mail box is stuffed full of tech catalogs telling me what I cannot afford to be without as a Pastor or church leader. Most of the stuff is good and it might be usable but most of it does not substantially impact what we do. It certainly would create more work -- to make use of all this technology means that we have to spend time on it -- time that we might spend elsewhere.
Believe you me I know this tension. I spend about 20-30 minutes a day on this blog and reading other blogs. Usually from 6:30 am to about 7 am each morning, I limit myself to the time I spend on the internet. I had a computer failure and still have not put an email program into service (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc, I have used in the past). One of the reasons for this is because I get my mail off the internet, I get it twice a day and do not live enslaved to the little icon that tells me "you've got mail." It is not a burden but real freedom to get and send my email less often. It is a good discipline.
One of the utility folks I know said that though our appliances are increasingly energy efficient, the number of things plugged in at the average household has multiplied exponentially. That happens in the Church as well. Though our most recent addition was built 12 years ago, we find ourselves constantly complaining about the lack of outlets all around the building. Now I see that you can replace your regular outlets and put in receptacles that have USB ports right in them to charge up all your electronics.
The price tag of our technology addition is not merely paid in dollars and cents. It is paid in the time spent on these devices and away from other things. We have to constantly work to make sure that we are not doing these things because we can and make sure that we are using technology wisely at home and in the Church.