This week I’ve been thinking about technology. On a recent beach trip, I witnessed a father and teenage daughter fighting about her phone usage. He yelled in frustration that she was at the beach and just focused on her phone. She yelled back that she was posting cute pictures to share with her friends, come ON! He ended up taking her phone. But I’m not judging them (honestly.) When I’ve forgotten my phone at the parsonage after arriving at the church office, I have walked back to get it because I feel disconnected when my phone’s not with me. I know it must be a struggle for parents to figure out how to strike a balance with their children and technology—how many hours a day to be on social media, play video games, watch YouTube, text friends, etc. And Lord knows I am not going to sit here and give any parenting tips or tell you what to do with technology in your life.
Sometimes technology can be a real blessing. Because I don’t live in the same state as any family members, technology is a life saver for keeping us connected. Let’s face it, social media can connect us when we’re in different parts of the world! People share life’s milestones on digital platforms and it can provide a way to share news (both good and bad) with a large number of people in one’s social network. You are even reading this reflection right now because of technology! So, when technology is used in a way to connect us to one another, that can be helpful and even powerful.
Though there’s a shadow side. People can text and drive, causing accidents. Or be so focused on taking pictures that they put themselves in dangerous (or even deadly) situations. People can be especially cruel on social media or over email, writing something that they would never say to someone’s face. Hiding behind a keyboard can empower people in negative ways. People can also betray confidences easily, forwarding an email or doing a screen shot of a private message. Not to mention that we’re not able to read each other’s facial expressions or tones of voice to clarify what someone’s sharing. So we make assumptions, we misunderstand, and the whole thing could have been avoided by picking up the phone or speaking to that person face to face. And people aren’t always authentic on social media, sharing only the highlights of life and not always getting real about the hard days we all deal with sometimes.
Technology may not be inherently good or bad. It’s about how we use it–are we using it to build up one another or tear one another down? Maybe we contemplate the words of James before we text, email, post, comment, tweet, etc: “But no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.” (James 3:8-10)
(This Week’s Thoughts 7.18.19)