I’d like to submit a response to “The community killer on our campus” by Pat McNamara, published in the Dec. 6 issue of The Echo. I don’t know Pat, but his well-articulated piece caught my eye.
Inspired by his observation of students’ improved sense of community during a power outage when electronic devices became inoperable, Pat’s article convincingly illustrated what he called a “true addiction to technology as entertainment” which is exactly why we emphasize the “theology of technology” in COS 104. In class, we attempt to encourage healthy evaluation of our interactions with media, social platforms and really, all technology — to be aware and mitigate damage caused if technology is used irresponsibly.
Pat also drew a connection to the LTC, asking “Should it start addressing the epidemic of technology on campus?” and included legitimate expressions of concern from students dealing with the addictive nature of technology. He ends with a call to put “technology as entertainment” in its proper place, which is a very mature reflection of a power outage.
This might be a good time to point out I'd be a complete hypocrite if I claimed to be unaffected by the lure of technology because this issue isn’t limited to the current generation by any means. As an often clumsy Jesus-follower and equally clumsy techie, my own efforts have had mixed results over the years.
I love using technology, as entertainment or otherwise, and I find it a fitting way to reflect the creative nature of The Creator, as long as it’s in its “proper place,” as Pat wrote. Addictive behavior is a pretty good sign that technology isn’t in the right place.
But how can we help each other to avoid or get out of this technology trap that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1)? Sometimes before we can really help others, we have to first look at ourselves. This means redeeming our time, (Ephesians 5:15-16) or reclaiming wasted time lost to the consuming machine of modern technology and entertainment. Daily, I suggest:
1. Make an effort as soon as you wake, before your feet touch the floor, to commit that day and your activities to the Lord.
2. Take at least 15 minutes to engage with God’s Word. Did you know that an average reader can read the entire Bible in one year reading about 15 minutes per day? That’s 91 hours in one year. Compare that to 1,353 hours the average person uses looking at their cell phone each year, according to eMarketer.
After this, you can move on to other practical things that can help you or others. What are those things? They can be different for everyone: turn notifications off so you aren’t distracted by social media, uninstall games from your phone or unplug your TV or console. Without judgment, look to encourage others that might be struggling.
Make a decision to prioritize people instead of technology, especially if you are one to isolate yourself for the sake of your favorite gadget. There can be a real strength in forging relationships over time, and that only happens when you look away from your screen and toward another person. Find a balance — don’t just avoid technology. Embrace technology by engaging it in ways that honor God. Use your smartphone this week to call your mom, dad, sibling or friend and tell them you love them or are thinking of them . . . then find someone here on campus, go get some coffee and start a conversation.