Technological gain and advancement is good. For example: We no longer have to carry an atlas on road trips to navigate ourselves. We no longer have to buy cassettes and CDs in order to listen to music (however, I’m sure there are those hipsters out there who love vinyl). If you like to read, you no longer have to haul books around because we have the luxury of buying digital and audio copies. Paper and pencil? Use your notepad app on your iPhone! Why buy a film or DSLR camera when you have a camera on your phone?
Technological advancement has benefited every human being. Everyone, if they find themselves with a smartphone, has the ability to live a life free from silence, filled with continuous distraction. Even though there are innumerable benefits in light of the advent of technological advancement, there is a real danger creeping at the door. Consider how much time you spend on your phones. Consider how often you feel as if you are actually present with another.
Personally, I’m always using my phone. There is hardly ever a time I do not have it within a couple feet from my grasp. I use my phone to listen to various podcasts, Youtube videos, listen to music, and even to read my Bible. Sometimes, I use the timer on my phone to remind me to pray throughout the day! I can safely say that most of the time I use my phone in positive and productive ways, unless of course I am on an endless scrolling frenzy on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
If you have an iPhone, you can find out how you use it: it logs your “screen time”. It tells you which apps you’ve used the most and the amount of time you’ve spent on those apps. If you want to know if you have a problem with staring at your phone, being distracted, and not paying attention in the social settings you find yourself in, go into your settings and go to the “screen time” tab. There it will tell you a breakdown of how you spend your time on your phone, specifically, how long you have been using your apps in the last 7 days.
In the last 7 days, I’ve averaged 3 hours and 43 minutes per day of “screen time”. I don’t necessarily know where this sits on any given range, but, the fact is that that is a lot of wasted time. What would you do if you had an extra 4 hours a day? Think of the possibilities!
Man Has Dominion Over What?
When God completed His creation, He declared it all good (Gen 1:13). When God made man, he decreed that they should have dominion over all the Earth (Gen 1:26). God, in His grace, made men with the ability to use their God-given, intellectual prowess to discover fire, invent the wheel, the printing press, light, the telephone, the computer, and so on. Technology, the fruit from God’s common grace, is a gift given to humanity.
But, I have a question: has God’s declaration of man’s having dominion over the Earth been reversed? When God declares something, it will never, and cannot ever, be revoked. This is an impossibility. Humankind still have dominion over the Earth, yet, it seems as if, at least in part, technology has dominion over us. I believe humankind has fallen into technological slavery.
We have welcomed the very thing we are to have dominion over to have dominion over us. Do we own our phones and the technology that is supposed to serve us or do they own us? Do we bend at the will of a phone notification or do we respond and interact with our phone on our own terms? As a Christian, and in obedience to God’s decree in Gen 1:26, we must strive to overcome the vice grip of technology. Here is my scriptural basis for this assertion.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” We must be diligent to the ways we carry ourselves in this life. Why? “The days are evil.” A wise reader of this passage will realize that wisdom can be exercised in every area of our lives–even in how we utilize technology.We should seek to be wise Christians who utilize the tools set before us for our benefit, not for our destruction.
1 John 5:21 warns, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Idolatry can creep in from areas we are very much unaware of. Technology has most of us in a vice grip. We must not, and should not, minimize the possible danger technology offers us.
We must realize that technology is a real distraction. It can bind our psyche, giving the devil a foothold to tempt us with various things we might want to buy, look like, live like, or seem like on the internet. Temptations are legion. We should seek to delight in God and meditate on His law day and night, reducing the distraction we have in our daily lives everyday.
Take a Suggestion
All over the internet, you can find ways to “resolve” your technological slavery, but here I will give you 7 brief “suggestions” regarding your daily interaction with technology–but more particularly, your phone.
(1) Use “Airplane mode”. Use it as you see fit, but, as an example, try turning your phone into “airplane mode” an hour or two before you go to bed. This guarantees you will probably fall asleep faster, too.
(2) When doing your Bible reading or prayer time, leave your phone in another room. Don’t let your time with the Lord be filled with distracting notifications.
(3) Call instead of text. It reduces your time on your phone and you will most likely communicate what you mean with much more clarity.
(4) Protect your time with others. Invest deeply into the relationships you are cultivating instead of always looking down at your phone for the latest notification. As we do this, we are literally telling the other person, “you are not enough to keep me interested.”
(5) Have “distraction free” times during your day. This is essential if you seek to unwind from work and the various things that consume our mental life throughout our days.
(6) Create your own rules. All in all, these have been suggestions. At the end of the day, you must do what you think will work for you. But, the point is, do something.
(7) Read some material to educate yourself on the right use of technology. Here are some suggestions:
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
- The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
- The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
- From the Garden to the City by John Dyer and T. David Gordon
In conclusion, as we seek to live a life free from technological distraction while replacing these bad habits with good habits, I believe our efforts will result in a much more positive, deep, and real connections with God in our time of study and prayer, and with the people around us. Technology is good, and despite its danger to distract, it can help us live easier, more fulfilling and practical lives. Run from the technological slavery. My prayer for us is that the gift of technology may not have dominion over us, but, us over it.