Christina Fox received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ helps Friendships to Flourish. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and www.Facebook.com/
It's like a distant memory, shrouded in mist and legend. When people speak of it, we almost don't understand what they are saying. But believe it or not, there was a time when our lives did not revolve around technology. We used to write notes with pen and paper. We had wall calendars and daily planners. We kept our contact information in a physical address book. And we went to the store to leave our film to be developed, waiting a week before we could pick it up, never knowing how the images would turn out until we opened the envelope.
Do you remember those days?
Technology is our everyday reality now. It governs our time and controls our information. We trust it to keep our phone numbers and addresses. Our most precious memories are stored somewhere in a place called "The Cloud." Newspapers are almost relegated to a place in history, along with cassette tapes and stationary. Most of us prefer to read our books and news on a device rather than flip an actual page. Highlighters have been replaced with the swipe of a finger. Relationships are made and ended with the click of key.
I enjoy the benefits of technology as much as everyone else. I've come to rely on the calendar on my phone and the digital scrapbooks I make each year for my children are a treasure we all enjoy. But like all good things, it's easy for us to twist and distort technology into something that is not good. It's important that we are aware of what is happening in our mind and heart when we use technology. In fact, we need to be aware that sometimes we believe things that just are not true about technology.
Are you familiar with any of these lies?
1. It will satisfy your what's missing in your life: Anything good can quickly become of utmost importance to us. As John Calvin noted, our hearts are idol making factories. Even something as innate as technology can be shaped into an idol that we worship and place as more important in our affections above God. When we are struggling in our lives we can think that technology can fill the void and ease the pain of living in this sin-stained world. We can try to dull the ache in our heart by pinning things we think will make our lives better. We can take meaningless surveys, read one status update after another, play countless games or watch one season after another of our favorite show and never have to see one commercial--all in the hopes that it will satisfy what's missing in our lives.
But it's all a lie. Technology cannot satisfy nor fill any void in our life. Nothing can meet our deepest longings but the One who made us. Only God can fill that hole in our heart. As Augustine wrote, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
2. You are missing something when you are not there: Another fallacy we can believe about technology is that when we are not online, we are missing something. We've become accustomed to receiving and responding to messages right away. If we don't regularly check our phones for an email or a text message or a social media notification, we think we are missing out on something important. That's because we get a rush when we hear the ping of an incoming message. Just like a gambling addict, we keep coming back for more. The truth is, being away from our computer or phone for a few minutes or even longer will not hurt us. Our world will not come crashing down if we don't read and respond to a message the moment it arrives.
3. What happens in social media is the same as reality: Here's a big lie that's easy to fall prey to. We think that the interactions we have with people online is the same as relationships we have in real life. The truth is, most of the people we talk with online we will never meet in person. They are not the ones who will come over to our house with a pot of soup when we are sick. They are not the ones who will watch our kids when we have to go to the doctor. They are not the ones who will invest their lives in ours. Instead, online relationships are more likely to interfere with real life relationships. Such relationships keep our eyes fixed on the phone in our hand rather than the people seated across from us at the dinner table. Flesh and blood is real; an avatar on a screen is not. While there are connections made in the virtual world with people across the world that is good and beneficial, such relationships should never be a replacement for those IRL (in real life).
4. Every minute must be filled: Because we have access to immediate entertainment, we don't know how to be bored. We don't know how to just stare off into space and think. For every minute of our day, we can fill it by looking at social media updates, playing a game, or scrolling through pins. Here's the truth: not every minute has to be filled. It's okay to sit at a traffic light and just wait for it to change colors without glancing to see if you've received a text. It's okay to wait for an appointment without responding to emails. It's okay to have time to just simply be.
5. You can learn all you need to know from a screen: There is a big difference between studying about something and experiencing something. Technology often makes it easier to access information quickly. That's helpful. But it also means that we think we can learn all we need to know from technology. But experience is important too. Entering the real world and breathing fresh air and smelling a real flower and engaging a real person and experiencing life up close and personal teaches lessons we could never learn from Google.
Technology is here to stay and will most likely continue to change the way we live. Even as we embrace and utilize technology, may we also be on guard to not believe any of it's lies.