We have been discussing things that can distract us from God and spiritual things. Here are some thoughts about the use of technology.
We have so many valuable tools at our disposal in our day and age. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to use the internet to connect to virtually everyone on our planet. We can communicate with people around the globe in an instant, inexpensive way. It’s a marvel that we have all of these resources at our fingertips and in our pockets.
A question was once asked on an internet forum “If someone from the 1950’s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today?” The most popular answer was this: “I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.” What an interesting perspective on the common usage of our technological assets.
We can allow our phones and computers to be a distraction from the most important things in life. How many times have you seen a family sitting in a restaurant and while they are together, sharing that experience they all have their phones out and are lost in the screens? Also you can commonly see people who order their food and before they take their first bite, they have to snap a picture of it and post it for strangers to see, “like”, and comment on. What a strange world we live in.
The capabilities of these devices are so wonderful and we want to be good stewards of them and their uses. So how can we protect our focus and ensure it’s placed in the proper place? Here are a few suggestions I have tried which have helped me:
Have a “Screen Sabbath”. This is a day a week where you do not use your computer or phone except for absolute emergencies. This allows you to break the mental dependance on your screened device.
Do you find yourself opening and checking certain apps on your phone almost through auto-pilot? Try this: delete the app on your phone for a week. See how many times in that week you pull out your phone and click where the app used to be. It may surprise you how often you will do that. It sure surprised me.
Make a daily commitment for “no screens after XX o’clock”. I try to ensure that I will not be on my phone any later than 10. It will be different for each person for a variety of reasons, but your family will notice the conscious effort you are putting forth and will be appreciative.
Finally, try to use more analog forms of communication to connect with life before the internet. For example, do you have someone that you are thinking of Facebook messaging to catch up? Send them a letter. Like a real letter. On paper that you have to send through the mail with a stamp and everything. I know that when I receive a letter or a card from someone it means just a little more than someone who sends me an email.
The key to all of this is balance. Technology is a wonderful tool, if we use it as a tool. The moment it is something more to us, we are in danger of being distracted from what’s truly important.