So for today, I post a few thoughts (fewer than I had hoped) on keeping technology from tyrannizing us. Several things of late have triggered these thoughts, including the carpal tunnel issue (I use my Macbook Air a lot!) and an article on how teens are being tyrannized by texting.
First, how is it that technology so easily becomes a tyrant? Others have probably written better thoughts about this, but it occurs to me that with texting, for example, we have broken into a strange new world where everyone who has our number has access to us 24/7 if we allow it. Indeed, with much of technology of late instant and constant access to one another seems to be the theme. This can't possibly be healthy, and I will make a few suggestions as to how to deal with this new reality in the paragraphs below. But another way that technology has tyrannized us is by its seductive ability to pull us away from others into our own self-centered, entertainment-overloaded world. We live in a time when children from a young age are learning to isolate and fixate! Ironic, isn't it, that these two tyrants are polar opposites! What can we do to ensure that we don't fall under such tyranny? Here are a few thoughts.
- Above all else, keeping technology in its proper place is a matter of personal maturity and healthy discipline. If you have never been able to set boundaries for yourself and others, you will not be able to do so in the realm of technology. So if you need healing and maturing, find a healthy loving community who can help you mature in Jesus!
- But assuming that you have a measure of health, the way to prevent texting or instant messaging from tyrannizing you is simply to set boundaries for those who have access for you. In my last blog entry, I jokingly referred to DFN (Done For Now!) as a new texting abbreviation, but I was only 1/2 joking. Healthy relationships always require healthy boundaries and "tech relationships" are no exception. So come up with your own list of ways to set boundaries, but set them. I personally choose not to respond to texts, etc., unless I feel it's appropriate. And if necessary, I will who text me that I am not available 24/7 and feel no compulsion to answer. This is especially true when I am in my Papa time (it has to be an emergency) or at times when others deserve my undivided attention. It is also true when I simply need space. Remember, it ain't natural for human beings to have instant 24/7 access to one another, and when some of those who do have access are broken people, it can set up some very unhealthy situations. Bottom line, set boundaries without feeling guilty about doing it.
- In a similar vein, feel free to educate your friends and family about healthy boundaries and what that looks like. And on your end, give thought to whether you need instant response to everything. And if you really want to be healthy, consider a call or set up a Face Time connection, etc.
- Regarding the seductive tendencies of technology, it is again boundaries that save us from tyranny. My sons remember (I trust) that there were limits to electronic game times, TV times, etc. I place those same limits on myself in conversation with the Holy Spirit. I choose not to be tyrannized by something that is supposed to be my servant by asking the Holy Spirit to help me value that which has eternal value. And no, I don't do this perfectly, but it's amazing how much progress one can make with this if he/she is serious. Remembering that every minute wasted is lost forever helps to motivate me in this--maybe it will for you, too.
- Consider, too, reviewing your values and how they are expressed. If we value our children and grandchildren we will be sparing in how we use games and media to babysit them. We will monitor whether or not they are being drawn away from healthy social interaction by the Siren's song of the latest addictive game or by the constant stream the latest new video. And if we value others, we will weigh how helpful it is to disengage from one another by watching too much of this or that. (Be warned here, though, that the watching of TV is just a symptom, not the cause! It takes some intentionality to engage with other people, some effort as well. Think about it!)
I am sure there is much more to write here, but perhaps this will stir up your own thoughts and ignite an inquiry in you as to what role the wonderful world of technology plays in your life and the lives of those you influence. My prayer is that you will find Tool, not Tyrant, stamped on your devices! :-)
Living free from tyranny...
Tom, one of Abba's children