Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Technology has become our oxygen. . .

We all know that you breathe in oxygen and that if you don't you die but we never think about it.  We notice smells more than when the atmosphere has less oxygen in it.  If we go to the doctor and find out the oxygen saturation in our blood is low, we are surprised.  We breathe and we live and, barring any real complications, we know oxygen will always be there.

In one sense, technology has become like oxygen to us.  It is always there.  Smart phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, etc...  We are surrounded by our ever present technological toys, we live on wifi (high speed), and we connect through signal more than any other way to our world, to our wants, to our friends, and to our dreams.   Social media is the center of it all and the internet is the beating pulse of our everyday lives.  We have become native to this culture and if you take it away from us, we suffer (or at least we think we do).

At one point this technology was a means to an end.  We began with a desire to connect with people and get the message out.  Now I wonder if this technology has not become an end and not merely a means.  The media is the message (to borrow from Marshall McLuhan).  We shaped our tools and now our tools shape us.  Now we find ourselves defined by our technology and social media to the point where we struggle to know who we are apart from that technology and social media.

Everyone sees this.  Everyone does this.  We are on our smart phones all the time.  The media tells us where to go when we drive and how to get there quickly and easily.  While we are on that journey, we connect through text, social media, and even old-fashioned email.  When we arrive we take our smart phone with us and we consult it through work and play.  We share what we find meaningful or cute and we define friendship and end it with a swipe of a finger or a click of a mouse.  It has become extremely normal to us -- so normal that we cannot recall a time when our lives were not defined by a device we hold in our hands.

The social media that we frequent have become our family, our friends, our support group, and even our church.  Our experience of God and of one another is mediated through technology and social media.  We may not want to admit it, but we know underneath it all that is the truth.  What we think of this is not merely generational divide, though it might be partly this, but pivotal to how we live the church before the world.

The great challenge for us is not how to deal with today but what to do with those who are small children, whose lives will even more be defined and identified by this technology and whose existence has been and will be even more virtual than folks like you or me reading this article.  I wish I had the answers but I think that this is something we had better be talking about. . . now.


Anonymous said...

A timely post indeed, Pastor! What you write has chilling implications for future generations.

I am going to order this book for myself:

Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on the Technologies that Limit our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency and Freedom

John Joseph Flanagan said...

The technology factor is changing society in ways too numerous to discuss here, but in my view, the aspect of most concern is technological advances in military warfare, drones, robotic devices, high capacity explosives, and of course, nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. Any future world wars could decimate entire countries on a scale we have never seen in human history. I pray such a scenario will not happen, but it is surely possible. Both China and Russia, as well as N Korea and Iran, remain clearly militant countries growing their arsenals every day, and so are the US and NATO. This world has seen more periods of war than times of peace. Technology will bring future conflicts to our shores as well as to foreign locations.

Kirk Skeptic said...

The only people to have mastered technology are the Amish, who consciously reject anything that they perceive to threaten their communities. If we so valued our communities, we wouldn't use e-toys to dodge the obligation of speaking with our neighbors and fellow churchgoers. Our priorites are what we do, and our society's enthrallment with technology says itmall vis-a-vis what we really think about others.

Carl Vehse said...

Silicon-semiconductor-empowered internet-using Luddites, arise!

Glory said...
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