Maybe I really am a 65 year old in a 38 year old’s body, an “old soul.” And maybe I’m also a hypocrite…because I rely heavily on my smartphone for every day living and I’m not just a Twitter account holder, I really like Twitter. It is both really funny to me and legitimately helpful when I use it strategically. But I have major concerns about the effect of modern technology on people. It seems many are unknowingly coming under the power of technology much like people come under the power of money.
Here are some of the big red flags I see regularly as a pastor:
Parents seek help over serious children matters via text messages. Spouses in marital mess want to discuss their issues through text messages. People separated from their smartphone display the same emotions of substance abuse addicts in need of a “hit” and at times as victims in real crisis. I do not say that with any intention of being funny. When smartphones ring or buzz or beep, not a few people have a sincere and uncontrollable need to immediate see who and what it is. It is no secret that social media companies employ psychologists who strategize how to get clients addicted to their product. Just google it and you’ll see there are public newspaper articles about it. Your social media account is designed to hook you with an addiction. That alone should tell us to engage with extreme caution.
Here are some helpful reminders for us:
Life issues are larger than micro-text and thus unsolvable without a more full discussion than can be had in text messages and instant messages. You can neither fully seek help nor fully give proper counsel via text messaging and other abbreviated micro-texting.
Micro-text technology diminishes critical thinking skills and can lead to less than “best” decisions. Your brain is not designed to know so many meaningless details about the people around you. It literally clouds the mind and dumbs the brain. The human mind requires uninterrupted time and space to think and process clearly. This is a much bigger issue than people realize. If you get off social media for seven days, you will see a noticeable difference in your critical thinking skills, your peace of mind, and even your sleep patterns.
Technology takes you captive and can become a powerful addiction. A lesser form of the addiction is when you still wait for others to tell you the information they want you to know, but you are at their mercy as to when they tell you. For example, if when your smartphone rings or buzzes or beeps, you have a real and uncontrollable need to check it, you are in captivity. The shift can be subtle, but the effects are radical, when you move from ownership of your life to others taking ownership of you. Have you forgotten that a ringing phone or a buzzing text message is a request for your attention at your next convenient moment, not a demand from another person to immediately stop what you are doing and meet their needs? A graver form of the addiction is when you can’t even wait for them to tell you the information they want you to know, you are constantly prowling for their information. I am convinced the craving some people have to check social media is the same craving crack addicts have for a hit of cocaine or porn addicts have for a hit of pornography. Again, I do not say that with any intention of being funny. Bondage to anything but Christ is sin.
Technology can hurt your primary relationships and focus. In any meeting or gathering in which you are checking your smartphone, you believe (consciously or unconsciously) that the time you are spending with the people present is of the same value and importance that you can bring every person in your contact list and every follower on social media. You are bringing them all to the meeting with you and they can interrupt and talk to you at any time they want.