I Love Technology

“I love technology, but not as much as you, you see, always and forever.” These are words sung by the enigmatic Kip Dynamite (fictional silver screen character from the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite) to his wife on their wedding day. Technology dominates life in the west and increasingly on every square inch of our globe. In the middle of Africa, where there was no running water, indoor toilets, or electricity, phone cards (for mobile phones) were on sale at the local market. 

However, even with advances around the globe, I still spent a week with virtually no technology (or, at least, no ability to use it) and it can really open the eyes. At the same time, I’m reading a book by Eugene Peterson in which he identifies “attentiveness to God” as the most important reality in life. To illustrate the reason for our ineptness in this area, he retells the story of the mythical Greek god Prometheus. In the early days of mankind, man knew the day he would die and it provided a sobriety and groundedness to life. Because of some cosmic squabble, Prometheus became upset with Zeus and decided that he would reverse man’s awareness of his mortality and also introduce fire. The result was that man no longer saw his life as finite, but now limitless opportunities appeared in front of him. In addition, with fire (technology), man now had the illusion of being able to accomplish the limitless possibilities. Peterson makes the comment that man no longer sees himself as human, but as a god who is able to control life and death (or, at least dull the effects of a life/world that is aging).

I had a friend last week comment on how much of our lives are centered anesthetizing us from the reality that life is dying. Anti-aging drugs, remodeling our homes, and eating “organic foods” can all be technologies that we use to give us a sense of control and movement toward limitless possibilities. The idea that pervades is “if I can just get a little faster computer or a nicer car or a better cell phone plan, then …” We are so wooed and wowed by the promise of technology. And, at its core, the insidious nature of technology is that the use of it, in and of itself, can keep us so busy that we never have to think and engage and consider reality. And this is where we find ourselves today … worshipping technology because it can give us a sense of control and dominance over our lives — or, at the very least, something to dull the pain of an empty, dying life.

For me, the idea of “worshipping technology” (of it being an idol) seemed difficult until I realized that my phone or my email or TV or the internet is where my mind goes most often when it is idol. What I worship is where my mind goes when there is nothing to distract or occupy it … so, what do I do? I know that technology is not inherently evil or worthy of complete abandonment – it is an issue of my heart and how I choose to interact. So, I’m choosing to look at my heart throughout the day and consider how I’m interacting with things. Before my trip to Africa, my wife gave me a rock to put in my pocket as a reminder to think about her when I was gone (not that I needed a reminder, but it was a kind gift). So, I’m keeping that rock in my pocket to remind me that listening to God/being attentive to him to more important than being attentive to my email or who won American Idol or what song is number one on iTunes.

In Jeremiah 2:13, God says that we have committed two evils: 1. we forsake Him (we quit being attentive and believing that He alone can satisfy), and 2. we dig broken cisterns that cannot hold water. The great truth that I need to remember is that nothing else can promise what God can. There is only one creator – only one who is worthy – only one who can satisfy my soul – only one for whom I was made.

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~ by Ted Wueste on June 4, 2008.

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