Today I want to begin with a confession. Hi, my name is Lance and I am a technology addict. In the next three articles, I want to talk to you about technology and your soul.
And yes, there is a certain irony that you are reading this article on one of your technology devices.
I love living in the age of technology. I love gadgets. I love being able to communicate by e-mail. I love being able to FaceTime my granddaughters. I love apps that help me organize my world. I love being able to bank online. I love being able to use google maps to get where I want to go. But not all uses of technology are so noble or beneficial.
The implications of technology and having a healthy soul are staggering. Having a soul that is at peace and in deep union with Jesus requires space and quiet and stillness and “presence” and PAUSE. And all of our gadgets fight to consume every morsel of time and attention in our lives.
I know I don’t need to talk to pastors about the benefits of technology, and there are many. In terms of extending the reach of the gospel, or making our ministries more accessible, technology has been an incredible gift.
We are experts at maximizing technology, but not so good at managing it. We are good at leveraging technology, not so good at limiting it.
Technology is overtaking every area of life and the speed of advancement is mind blowing.
In 1958, a scientist at Texas Instruments developed the first-ever integrated circuit. It had two transistors (the more, the better) with a "gate process length" (the smaller, the better) of about ½ inch.
Fast forward to 1971 The Intel 4004 had 2,300 transistors with a gate length of 10,000 nanometers, and computer power of about 740 KHz. By the way, a nanometer is one billionth of one inch.
In 2012, Nvidia released a new graphical processor unit (GPU) with 7.1 billion transistors, a gate length of 28 nanometers, and processing power of 7GHz.
We are using better and faster tools to design and build better and faster tools.
An article I recently talked about the advance of technology and concluded "We won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.”
In human history, the dawn of the internet was a total game changer. The advent of technology brought a tectonic shift in our culture. We will not turn back the clock to a quieter, simpler, slower, more “unplugged” time. The blessings and burdens of technology continue to work their way into every nook and cranny in our lives. It is no wonder that Americans spend an average of eight hours every day staring at some kind of screen.
Of those 18-24, 75% said they check their phone before they get out of bed.
Once out of bed, we check our phones once every 4.3 minutes, or 221 times a day.
It is hard to believe that the internet has been around 50 years.
So, how do we appropriately manage technology so that it doesn’t damage our souls?
I think a good place to start the discussion is Proverbs 22:3 (NIV).
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
I love the message paraphrase of Proverbs 22:3:
A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
According to this verse, two qualities qualify you as smart. First, you look down the road and see trouble coming. Smart people are not naïve. Smart people don’t go looking for trouble, but they are able to see it coming down the road.
In contrast, the simpleton walks in blindly. They are not evil or sinful or immoral. they are just foolish and lack good judgment. I don’t think Solomon is talking about being blindsided by an unforeseen problem. I think he is talking about walking into a situation that could have been and should have been avoided. Smart people are on the lookout for danger.
Secondly, the smart person not only discerns trouble, they DUCK! They make the necessary adjustment to get out of the way of trouble. You don’t get points for only seeing the trouble coming. In fact, you are worse than a simpleton if you see the trouble coming and don’t get out of the way.
In these three articles I want to share with you how we can “duck” some of the trouble that technology can bring. We all know the dark side of technology...sexual predators, pornography, scam artists, and identity theft. But there are a growing list of subtle downsides that are more socially acceptable.
When it comes to the topic of technology, the wise person is not naïve to the more subtle, shadow side of technology.
Since I have been studying this issue and becoming more aware of it, I have begun to “feel” the impact of technology on my life and soul.
I feel it when I try to read my Bible. I have a hard time focusing on what I am reading. I feel it when I reflexively reach for my phone any time I have a few spare seconds. I feel it when I am supposed to be having a conversation with my wife. I feel it when I am distracted by every new text message.
The truth is I am finding it increasingly difficult to focus, pay attention for very long, be present in a conversation, have undistracted thoughts, pray, read deeply, enjoy a quiet drive, or be alone with my thoughts. In many respects, I don’t like what constant engagement with technology does to me.
In next week’s article we will talk about some of the more specific ways that technology impacts the health of our soul and in the third article we will talk about some practical steps we can take to manage technology.
This week, try to pay attention to how much you are plugged into your technology.
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