On my day off recently, I was on the first tee at Copper Creek Golf Course, getting ready to play a round with my friend. As we were waiting for the fairway to clear, a group of three young men – they couldn’t have been older than 20, maybe younger – pulled up behind us to wait their turn.
My friend and I looked at each other and said the same thing at almost the same time: “How sad.”
Here were three guys, presumably friends, about to play a round of golf, a highly social activity – and they were absolutely and utterly disconnected from each other. We waited about five minutes to tee off, and none of them said a word. They weren’t joking with each other, talking about golf, or enjoying each other’s company in any way. They never looked up from their smartphones. To be perfectly honest, they looked miserable, like their parents had forced them to “go out and play,” even though they really just wanted to do video stuff. And as we looked behind us as they played their round, it was obvious that they were not engaged with each other in the least.
Of course, the irony of all this is that you may very well be reading this blog post on your smartphone or tablet device, and I certainly wrote it knowing that’s how you’d receive it. But it’s legitimate to ask the question: Have we become consumed by our gadgets?
Take a look at this video:
Obviously, this paints a pretty dim picture of where smartphones seem to be taking us. But is it all bad? Does it have to be that way? Take a look at this:
Wow. Really a different perspective, wouldn’t you say? These two videos are each constructed to tell us a story. One makes an important point about the dangers of technology, while the other reminds us of the benefits. Both videos present a slightly exaggerated but authentic view of the smartphone’s possibilities.
Of course, smartphones leave us asking ourselves a million questions. Are they a detriment to our families and friendships? Are they a way we can capture special moments and make them last forever? How should we, as Christians, view these gadgets?
From where I sit, it’s all about who (or what) has dominion over whom.
Technology is a thing, created by humans. In and of itself, technology is neither good nor evil. But it is meant to be used – ruled over, if you will – by man. With that dominion comes responsibility. In Genesis 1:28, the Word says:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule overthe fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God has tasked us with establishing dominion over creation. This includes dominion over the things that humans have produced as much as it does the natural order of creation. The smartphone is a perfect example. It can enrich our lives, but like any creation, it also has the power to enslave and dominate the very center of our lives. It can, in fact, become an idol.
So what are we supposed to do? I’m no expert, but here are a few ideas.
1. Set realistic limits on gadget use
It’s not absolutely imperative that we be “connected” at all times. So put the phone away for awhile. Heck, turn it off every now and then. Spend time with real people. Love those close to you. Engage in conversation where words are spoken and eye contact is made. Pray – earnestly, humbly, and repeatedly. I guarantee, your life will be richer for it.
2. Don’t be afraid to ignore the gadget
The fact that someone has texted you DOES NOT mean you’re required to respond immediately. If you’re in a position to respond without being rude or putting yourself or someone else at danger, by all means do it. But remember, any friend who would consider your relationship to be a failure because you waited an hour to respond … well, that person really isn’t a friend.
3. Commit your gadget to the glory of God
We have these gadgets that are seemingly capable of taking us to the moon … why not use them to take us closer to God? There are many bible apps you can download for free. You can also read blogs such as this one. Share your thoughts on God with friends. Participate in message boards that talk about Him. Use your device to encourage others.
4. Find a Gadget Accountability Partner
With powerful temptations such as smartphones, it’s easy slip into habits that lead to sinful patterns in our lives. So make yourself accountable. Set an appointment on your calendar to periodically (monthly?) ask yourself how you’re doing with technology. Is it dominating your time? Are you getting into the Word daily? Have you allowed technology to interfere with your personal relationships? It may be helpful to enlist the honesty of someone who spends time around you – that person may be more aware of your habits than you are.
Remember, smartphones are amazing artifacts of human ingenuity. In my own life, I have used my smartphone to show off my children, create lasting memories of amazing adventures, learn of God’s unending grace, get directions to remote locations, and even choose the right club on the golf course. But technology can also become a yoke around our necks, so pervasive that it can open us to distraction and undermine all our relationships. Are you the master of your technology, or has your technology mastered you?by