Saturday, November 3, 2012

Control.... or the illusion of control

One of the remarkable changes of modern life is the dazzling array of choices before us.  We are able to tailor more things to our individual taste than any time in history (so far).  We adjust all the preferences on our computers to fit our own personal desires. We have our own list of favorites on our computers.  We have our own personal address books and stylistic set ups for email.  We have preferences and choices for our Facebook pages.  We download rings and ring back tones to personalize our cell phones.  We shop online with preferences and choices already picked out for us (the benefit of a computer that scans our past choices to best predict our future ones from Amazon to Ebay).  We have more car choices than every before and within those brands we specify models, trim levels, and individual options as well.  From techno toys to TV, we have more choice than ever before.  Having recently acquired a Netflix account, I see movie and TV series after movie and TV series all because I ticked off this preference or that.  All of this is simple evidence of our desire to exercise complete control over as much of our lives as possible.  We desire to live out of the box but it seems that our intensive effort to exert control only ends up boxing us in more and more based upon our preferences and our past choices.

As we work to control the content of "my life," we also further isolate us from the very groups that contribute to our sense of identity and contribute to the sense of belonging that is so important to our security and our comfort zones.  It is no accident that people are lonely while having a seemingly endless supply of ways to connect and communicate (above, beyond, or instead of the face to face dialog that is more rarely chosen because it remains less predictable).

After first being enamored of these manifold choices, I am becoming more and more wary of them and what they are doing to us -- and, more importantly, to our children!  While not faulting the technology itself, the way we use it to exercise seeming control over our lives can also be tacit evidence of the curvatus in se character of original sin.  It is also descriptive of how sin works to reject which we desire most of all -- community and fellowship.

Maybe you have seen the commercial for whatever online dating service where the guy meets the gal for the first "get to know you" date and spends the whole time texting and talking on his phone.  Perhaps that should be the symbol of what we have done to our technology and how we have used this technology in less than salutary ways.  The guy cannot let go of any and every diversion because of the fear that doing so might cede control to someone else.  So he goes on a date because he feels lonely only to end up giving the girl a distant second to that dad-blamed cell phone and its choices (text, photo, email, internet, ect.).

It is the illusion of control, the delightful lie that we are in charge or in control, that tempts us most of all.  Even if we cannot actually be in control, we so delight in the illusion and enjoy the manipulation of every resource available to us -- until the constant personalization of things and the pursuit of choices ends up  overwhelming us and leaving us dry and empty.

One of the most helpful thing God does is to reveal how our constant pursuit of control, our ever present urge to define and detail all the choices before us. is the most cruel bondage of all.  Strip away the layers of technology and our incessant need to personalize everything in our lives and you find a sinner captive to his or her fears and impotent to do anything but acquiesce.  It is to this that Christ was incarnate and for this that He has come -- to set the captive free.  May God help us confront this addiction to choice and release it finally and fully from its cruel taskmaster or we will never find any sense of contentment, peace, or joy!

1 comment:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

May we also come to terms with real amd meaningful choice. Escaping choice, and the consequences of choice. Cannot be evaluated properly without an affinity and participation with the social world. The technocracy will turn man to machine...automated. As scientists are now finding; that many individuals brain is being re-worked. Let this not be the future of man dear Triune. I ask this Lord in your glorious name.