How not to be a slave to technology

I don’t know that I’m necessarily the right person to write this. I spend far too many of my waking hours sitting in front of a screen. I am a learner though, actively engaged in figuring out what technology is, how it shapes us and how we can live well with it. So with those goals in mind, here are four simple steps to stop being a slave to technology:

Step One: Stop Acting Like Technology Holds You Hostage

Here’s Trevin Wax:

So enough with the silly idea that every technological advance is set in stone and that cultural changes are irresistible, especially if certain habits prove detrimental to the life we want for ourselves! We can make choices in line with the vision of what we want our world to be like, or at least, we can make choices in line with the vision of what we want to be like in our world.

If we don’t want our homes held hostage by glowing rectangles, we can limit our time on devices, or we can do away with smartphones altogether. What king or queen has invaded your house and demanded you hand your fifth grader a smartphone? Mom and Dad, you are the authority in your castle. You are responsible for the culture you create. If a phone helps accomplish the vision of what you want your home to be, then have at it! If it doesn’t, toss it out. But don’t abdicate your kingdom and fall helplessly before the throne of Apple or Samsung.

Step Two: Know how to Interpret the signs of the times

Brett McCracken says:

In the age of Google, information is everywhere but wisdom is nowhere. How do we know what is true or believable amidst the digital avalanche of information? For churches, an increased skepticism toward truth/authority will certainly be a challenge.

There are other trends in technology we must prepare for: The “status anxiety” of our social media age that leads to narcissism, depression and addiction to “likes”; the ethical and existential questions posed by artificial intelligence; the compartmentalizing trajectory of technology that leads to unintegrated, fragmentary lives; the crisis of work in the post-industrial and automated age; the way online living erodes local community and inflates national and international politics to the extent that they become sources of ultimate meaning and identity.

Step 3: Don’t bow before the throne of social likes

Trevin Wax again:

If you feel the downward pull of the social game, talk to others. Take time away from the online world. Monitor your online habits. Soak in the Scriptures instead of scrolling through a timeline. Resist the urge to practice your righteousness online, in order to be seen by others.

This all may seem trivial, but remember, we’re talking about some of the deepest issues of the heart: whose approval we value and whose judgment we fear. God is not glorified, and we are not truly satisfied, with the shallow affirmation of more likes, follows, and shares.

Being faithful in our day means giving up our pursuit of likes and living as the people pursued by Love.

Step 4: Put things in their proper place

Liam Thatcher:

The proper place will look different for each family, and for each season of life. But essentially, technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with each other; when it helps us have great conversations, rather than stifles them; when it helps us acquire new skills – creating rather than simply consuming; when it cultivates awe for this wonderful world, rather than keeping us from engaging with the real world.

Jen Oshman:

In order to reduce connectivity gluttony and in order to be a good steward of the people, gifts,  skills, and hours in a day that God has given me, I need to get some distance between my phone and me.

To pursue single-mindedness I am now planning to leave my phone in a separate room during the following times:

  • When I’m reading my Bible
  • When I’m reading a book
  • When I’m homeschooling
  • When I’m writing
  • When I’m sharing a meal with my family
  • When we have guests
  • When we’re playing a game or having other miscellaneous family time
  • When I’m sleeping
  • When it’s Sunday

My phone should serve me, not the other way around.

Interestingly both Liam & Jen made some changes in response to reading Andy Crouch’s The Tech-wise Family: Everyday steps for putting technology in its proper place. I’ve read it, recommend it and hopefully review coming soon.

*In families the fault often lies with the parents and not the children which is something I wrote about here.

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