There is no doubt in my mind, and probably none in yours, that our culture and society have been changed, and will continue to change due to technology. Technology, by definition, is simply the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes; it can be found in machinery and equipment like cell phones, computers, cars, video cameras, etc. I think we are all in agreement that technology is something we think we couldn’t live without. Most of us own computers (or have access to one), most of us have cell phones, most of us drive a car, most of us listen to music (with any of the hundreds of music playing devices) and all of us are reading this blog which is communicated through technology (gotcha!). The popularity of technology and its billion-dollar industry in our culture makes me scratch my head and ponder why we are so interested in technology, and what about technology is so appealing to humans. What is it about technology that has got us going nuts over it? I think Mike Pohlman, writer and editor of The Gospel Coalition blog, sums it up nicely in his article on technology and its shortcomings when he says, “Humans don’t do well when not in control.” Technology, among many other enticing features, gives humans the mirage of being in control, and we like that.
Now a disclaimer: I love technology, and I suppose I always will. At its fundamental level, technology is like everything else God has gifted us with: great. As fallen beings we are especially inept at taking something that should, in its essence, glorify God and speak of His amazing creativity and beauty in the world, and turn it into its own god. We take something that is only a shadow of the real true thing (which is God) and worship it, instead of looking for what is creating the shadow, God. Technologies, and the various instruments of it, are easily some of the most worshipped items on our planet – besides ourselves, of course. Why do we love technology so much? Well, I would argue, and Pohlman would probably agree, it’s because technology can give us so much control, and we love that!
Technology is just one of many things in our lives that we can manipulate and control however we want. We can’t change the weather, we can’t change politics, we can’t change how fast our vegetables grow, we can’t change the color of the sky and we can’t change the way meat tastes. These things are just out of our hands, and should be, because if we got ahold of the power to do these things, we would screw it up! Oh, but technology gives us power. It gives us that ability to change our background picture, to decide who our friends really are (thanks, Facebook), to tell the whole world what we are doing (though you only have 78 followers!?), and it gives us the ability to take a picture of the sky and then change the color of it to our liking – lets say red.
I was amazed at the pictures and videos I was seeing on June 24th. I was reading tweets, Facebook messages and statuses, blog posts, newspaper articles, and television news pieces all just raving about the big event of the day: the illustrious release of the iPhone 4. The ultimate tool to control your life, it does everything you want to do and more! Now most of you know I have an iPhone and I love it, and thank God for Steve Jobs because it has been a great tool in many ways, but I think things have gotten a bit out of control. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets everywhere in America to get their hands on this new gadget, the gadget that will make everything easier and rule our lives. I know there are some people out there who can wisely use the new iPhone and other great gadgets, but it seems to me like our culture and society has decided to put technology on a pedestal where it doesn’t belong.
I know that this isn’t new to any of you, you know just as much as I do that there are always going to be things that we misuse and that we idolize, but lets not conform to culture. This becomes an issue of the heart, we no longer take technology for what it is – a great gift from God – but we turn it into something that controls our lives and becomes our God. I just look at people who have all these gadgets, iPod’s, iPhone’s, iPads, laptops, desktops, projectors, blue-ray dvd players, 3D TV’s and wonder if they will ever realize that these gadgets, these plastic and metal devices that were created to aid us in life, not takeover our lives, will never fill them up. We have fallen in love with technology because we can control it, but what we aren’t looking at is how much technology and gadgets are actually controlling our lives.
So what then do we put ourselves in, what then do we focus on, what should be controlling our life? I think that Paul helps us realize what it is we need to be doing, and where we need to be putting our hope and focus.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
(Colossians 3:1-5; ESV)
And be thankful that we don’t have to control and don’t get to control many things. Just look at what we have done already with that control – you don’t have to look far to see what it has done to us (the BP oil spill is just one example of hundreds). If we were in control, mankind as we know it would be in peril, but God has thought this through and thankfully He is in control.