The Year Technology Replaced Talking

February 26, 2011


Is there a difference between the connection fostered by technology and that of physical presence? (cc image courtesy digitpedia via flickr)

USA Today called 2010 “The year that technology replaced talking.”  Whether or not you agree with the newspaper’s punchy headline, it is certain that technology and the sort of instant “connection” that it provides is an increasing trend in our society. USA Today:

Americans are connected at unprecedented levels — 93% now use cellphones or wireless devices; one-third of those are “smartphones” that allow users to browse the Web and check e-mail, among other things. The benefits are obvious: checking messages on the road, staying in touch with friends and family, efficiently using time once spent waiting around.

The downside: Often, we’re effectively disconnecting from those in the same room. Read the rest of “The Year Technology Replaced Talking.”

That last point is the key one, and as a church we must have an answer for the question posed in it: Is technological connection as good as physical presence?

It is not a question of dividing the world into neat black and white categories and assigning all technology to one or the other. Everything was good when God made it; now it lies under the curse. Technology is no different. It is shot through with both good and evil, both glory and brokenness. The challenge is to learn to use technology to promote human community rather than subvert it.

We can look to the pattern of Jesus’ life for an example. Jesus did not write a message in the clouds. He did not shout from heaven. He took on our infirmities and shared our experience of life. He walked, he ate, he slept. He had friends and shared meals with them. He gathered 12 people near him to make a special connection—the kind of connection that could only be had after long, intensive time spent living the warp and woof of life together. He gave them his real presence.

Modern technology is a powerful tool. As with all powerful tools, it can be used either for great good or great evil. And we must always be aware of the danger of, as Susan Maushart, mother of three, puts it in the USA Today article, “connecting to everything but one another.”

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