Tim Challies hits an inside-the-park home run with his post on the possible evils of technology and what they mean for believers. As someone who’s becoming more and more of a neo-Luddite as time goes on, I think his assessment is dead-on righteous.Can’t really add much more. Loyal readers of Cerulean Sanctum know that I’m a quasi-agrarian besides my affinity for flipping off technology’s switch. Yes, I realize the hypocrisy of blogging about these things, but the fact remains; I don’t think we’re better off as human beings for all our wondrous tech inventions. Something has gone wrong with our disconnected society. I see social networks decaying faster than you can say “neighbor.”
Oengus Moonbones, a regular reader with a keen sense of discernment, has labeled me “Dismal Dan” whenever I get on these kinds of topics, so rather than continuing to fuel that appellation, I’ll just point you all to two good books on this topic:
by Eric Brende
by John Locke
(that other John Locke)
16 thoughts on “Tim on the Terrors of Tech”
I think you’re right, the constant pressure for people to accumulate and upgrade to the next best computer, i-pod or whatever is unhelpful.
As a ‘quasi’ agrarian, do you grow any of your own fruit and veg?
I don’t recall Tim mentioning anything on the gadgetry for kids and teenagers. So I ask, why do many parents choose to have the kids in front of the tv watching cartoons that tell them it is ok to rebel against paternal authority? Also, what about the latest ps1, ps2, ps3, psX, nintendo, xbox, etc? Not only the new gadgetry for kids separates families more but also anesthetize their neurons and then we blame on the Emergents who have just harvested on what our Space Invaders generation sowed -ok, this may sound simplistic, I know maybe more reasons add into that, but hasn’t this generation been told that it is sinful to think?
Oh, how I miss my childhood times playing with my lego set…and the enciclopedias too.
I don’t mean to be a contrarian, but I appreciate the technology that enables me to stay in touch with my daughter, who’s away at college. With our cell phones, we can call each other any time, anywhere. She can chat with me while she’s walking back to the dorm after class. And I can send her an e-mail if it’s something that can wait, or I want to call her attention to something on the Web. (example: I sent her a link to an article about the contact lens solution she uses being taken off store shelves because it’s linked to eye infections.) For me, technology helps to keep us connected.
We have a small orchard we planted last year consisting of apple, cherry, and pear trees. They should be fruit bearing in five years.
Not all children’s TV is bad. My son has gotten quite a bit out of watching shows like Reading Rainbow and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, for instance. Reading Rainbow ran a show last week on optical illusions and my son’s been fascinated by them ever since.
Wise choices make all the difference.
With every issue like this, there are underlying assumptions that we make without thinking about them. One decision creates a cascade of others that lead us to a certain position of depending on something. Sometimes we must ask if the thing we depend on can be eliminated by eliminating the cascade of events that create our dependency on that thing.
Don’t think I’m picking on you, but I’ll use your example.
1. Why must our children go to college? Is there another alternative? Should Christians be offering alternatives? My son may be facing a $250,000 bill for four years of college by the time he’s ready to go. How many families will be able to afford that? If we can’t afford that, what will we do? We need to start examining alternatives.
2. Why must our children go to a college that’s out of town? Why can’t they stay in town at home?
3. Are we creating unforeseen societal issues by sending our daughters to college?
4. Studies have shown that almost 80% of Christian kids who go off to college graduate from college no longer believing that Christianity is true. Almost 80%! See #1 above.
5. I know a phone is a tech item, but what’s wrong with a phone call? It’s cheaper than all that other tech and is at least a little more personal. When we have to rely on expensive computers and cell phones, those things cost money which forces us to work harder, which takes us away from our family time, which compromises our relationships, and so on.
If we Christians are going to be truly counterculture, then we have to start thinking that way. Otherwise, we’re on the treadmill just like everyone else, sharing in the same diminished quality of life.
Dan — I’m not sure why you’d say that a landline phone is cheaper than a cell phone. Especially for long-distance calls, a cellphone is way cheaper than a landline phone, especially with free nights and weekends, which is standard for most baseline cell phone plans now.
My other comment w/r/t your comment is: What do you mean when you talk about “unforeseen societal issues” caused by “sending our daughters to college”? Am I to understand you disapprove of women going to college even less than you approve of men going? And if so, why?
Let me turn that around and ask you what the negative ramifications might be of sending your daughter to college? Can you list five? I know I could list at least ten and perhaps twenty given where society is today.
Not trying to be anti-women here at all. Just pondering the results of some of the “forward progress” we’ve supposedly made in the last sixty years.
Tough issue in so many ways. It’s hard to be consistant across the board. We have no TV. We do, however, allow our little girls to occasionally watch a carefully selected movie on the computer. My husband I rarely watch movies at all (maybe 2 a year – also carefully selected). And we DO have a computer. I am a freelance writer. I cannot imagine trying to find openings or send all my queries via “snail mail”. I also find that I communicate MUCH more with my daughter and daughter-in-law via email than I would ever dream of calling them.
Another “techy” device we rely heavily on is our answering machine. I can’t stand the thought of being a phone slave! We have a real penchant against owning a cell phone, but wwe don’t hesitate to borrow one when we’e going to be away from the kids for a weekend away.
I guess each one of us has to examine his/her own lifestyle and needs, seek the Lord, and make our own choices in these areas.
Dan, I do not believe that technology is bad, in itself. It is how we use the technology that is bad. The internet is a good example. It enables people to stay in touch, even when thet are on opposite sides of the world, yet it is also a haven for those who are into porn. Neither of them makes it good or bad, it is just a tool that can be used for either. And remember, to reach the lost, we must live in their world, not retreat into hiding. Shunning technology would be doing just that, hiding.
You have to ask yourself this extremely important question:
Is the technology serving me or am I serving the technology?
I would contend that in many cases we are serving the technology.
Look at the sheer costs involved:
1. Family cell phones – $840/yr
2. Cable/Satellite TV – $600/yr
3. Internet Access – $360/yr
4. Computer-related consumables – $500/yr
5. Digital camera prints – $100/yr
6. Videocamera consumables – $150/yr
Just for those very common six things your outlay per year is $2,550. Assuming you make the yearly median household income in the US of about $65,000 a year, you make $32.50/hr. After taxes, that’s $22.75/hr. You would have to work 112 hours, or close to three weeks at 40hrs/wk, to afford to pay for the items I just mentioned. And that’s not factoring in any incidentals like the original purchase price of those items (cell phone, computer, software, printer, cabling, accessories, videocam, digicam, etc.) or the energy to power them. That contributes thousands more spread out over the usable life of those items (and trust me, the usable life on all those is decreasing.
What gets lost in that three weeks of work? Time with friends, family, churchgoers? Now factor in time lost maintaining and servicing those items. Ever have a wrong cell phone bill? Videocam break? Computer glitch causes you to lose all your files? And the hours roll on. If time is money, then we’re losing more of both….
Again, is technology serving us or are we serving technology? It seems pretty clear to me that we serve it.
Thanks for the complimentary mention, my dear dire Dan.
It is strangely the case that I am something of a paradox. My job title at work is officially “software engineer”, and I also run a blog, but at the same time I am something of a Luddite myself. For example, I refuse to own a cell phone, and my wife and I just recently dropped our cable television connection. It just wasn’t worth the time to bother with. (About the only thing I ever watched even occasionally was Alton Brown’s “Good Eats”.) It does seem that with age I have grown increasingly skeptical about modern technology and how much real good it’s doing for people. And that complicated phone in my office with zillions of buttons on it, well, I mostly don’t know what any of those buttons do. My collegues at work often poke fun at me for being vociferiously “Anti-Microsoft”, although I think I am right to be fed up with Microsoft’s shoddy software and its endless Patch-o-rama merrygoround.
I think we already have more technology than we know what to do with. All it’s doing anymore is creating in everybody a permanent state of “social jet lag”.
I think we were separated at birth or something:
1. Charismatic, but very anti-charismania.
2. Neo-Luddite, but with a tech background.
3. Alton Brown is not only the reason that I cook, a framed picture of him hangs over my convection oven.
4. When I was at Apple, I was paid to do one of my favorite things in the world: bash Microsoft and Intel. Now Intel powers Macs, and as of last week you can see that eerie, colored window dancing natively around on an iMac’s screen. Am I a relic or what?
5. Now if you tell me that you’re a drummer, the Twilight Zone music will start playing and I’ll go hide under my bed.
You can spend too much time alone in a garden or among books as well.
I would counter that not all time spent is bad time, especially if an activity grows your soul or calms it down.
My experience in watching people has shown me that tech tends to make people angry and frustrated, especially when it’s not working. Do we need more anger and frustration in our society?
Dan: “Now if you tell me that you’re a drummer, the Twilight Zone music will start playing and I’ll go hide under my bed.”
Well, I’m not a drummer, but if I had stuck to my accordian lessons back when I was very young, then by now I might have been as famous as Weird Al Yankovic, doing things like playing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida set to a polka tune.
But no, really, I gave up on music long, long ago, and I have totally no musical talent.