no app for that

I’m aware that I risk sounding like a ranting curmudgeon, but I think this entry for Our Daily Journey says something that I need to hear. I’d be interested if anyone thinks it’s too harsh. The target audience for ODJ is a 30 year old who might live anywhere in the world.

         When I was a child I knew people who did nothing but watch television. They sat in their recliner and snuffed their lives in continuous loops of game shows, sitcoms, and sporting events. The television was always on, even during meals.

        I noticed something strange about these people. They watched television because it was fun. Its newscasts, dramas, and soap operas seemed more interesting than whatever was happening in their lives. Yet the more they watched its exciting shows the more boring they became. The same television that connected them to the outside world also shrunk them. They became television zombies, unable to hold their end of a conversation because they had nothing to talk about.

        Something similar is occurring today. I know people who are always plugged in. They live their days online, surfing the Internet, checking email, and thumbing out texts. They rarely speak to the person beside them, for they’re absorbed in whatever news or video is streaming on their digital device. Their cell phone is always on, even during meals.

        This technology is more active than watching television, but it is no less draining. We go online because it’s exciting, and yet the more time we spend there the less interesting we become. Try holding a conversation with someone who is tethered to their cell phone. There isn’t much to say, and you’re about to be interrupted anyway.

        Broadband is producing shallow people, which is a problem for the gospel. Jesus said He came “to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10), but what does this mean to people who seldom think beyond their next text?

        This problem eludes easy solutions. We don’t want to eliminate technology, but we must control it. Jesus can’t save our lives unless we have one. So let’s get a life:  it’s a necessary foundation for salvation.

11 Comments

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  1. I apologize for the link on the term “checking,” which leads to an advertisement for a checking account. I can’t delete it, so I suspect it’s a way for wordpress to earn some additional money. Sorry!

  2. Harsh? No. Truthful? Yes. I am 30 but I don’t even like my cell phone. My generation needs to hear this message. Instead of curling up with a mobile device we need to curl up with a good book….maybe even the Bible:)

  3. I do not see this as harsh. I see it in line with Postman’s Amusing ourselves to Death. We think we are living, and we we are lured into a false life, and away from true life. We like to think that reality is on a device, not in the world. I like this reflection.

  4. I want to add that as a budding scholar, I fall into a similiar fallacy. That if it is not written in a peer-reviewed journal or reputable book. It is easy to live in a book as much as a technological device.

  5. You might be right about sounding like a curmudgeon, but sometimes that’s what we need. I don’t think you are doing this, but I hope we are careful in not blaming the technology itself, but rather people who abuse it. Apps, smartphones, facebook, twitter, etc. is not different from any other potential distraction that mankind has faced over the years. You can replace modern day “distractions” with watching gameshows (as you pointed out), patriotism, taking care of the house, putting a roof over your family’s head, etc. Both list are different in their own way; at the sametime they are exactly the same.They are not bad things, but they can become that. Funny how few things are in themselves bad.But anything that distracts you from the life of Christ, community with fellow Christians and non-Christians, genuinely loving friends and enemies, etc. do become objects that maybe we need to consider removing in order to fully embrace Christ.

  6. A few years ago, I told my cell phone that I’m it’s ruler and it doesn’t rule me. It didn’t have anything to say…

  7. I read this on my phone. I don’t know if I should feel edified or guilty… Sigh..

  8. Jonathan Shelley April 25, 2012 — 7:05 pm

    Mike,
    As long as you don’t refer to “those darn whippersnappers” I don’t think you qualify as a curmudgeon.

  9. I think your thoughts are needed. Not harsh to me or harsh in general. One of Francis Schaeffer’s prophetic statements is that one of the lines that will blur when we face a disjointed view of reality (he called the disjointed views the upper story and the lower story) is the one between fantasy and reality. Digital vs. Reality. What is reality if we live digitally 24/7?

  10. “Broadband is producing shallow people” This is distorted. Shallow people often use broadband, but it is wrong to blame the technology. The technology is useful. But technology is morally and spiritually neutral. If we are shallow people, we will use in the service of shallowness. But there are many constructive, edifying uses of it as well.

    There were many shallow people long before broadband. Shallowness is not a new phenomenon in today’s technological age.

    As we grow spiritually, we should be using technology in more carefully and edifying ways. It doesn’t force us to be a slave. We choose how we use it. There is probably a need for more spiritual teaching on the right use of technology.

  11. Bill: I agonized over that sentence for the reasons you gave. Then I thought that the Internet is shaping our characters, so I concluded it was okay to say. But I hear and agree with your point.

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