I just read Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matters In An Age Of Distractions by Arthur Boers (2012). Loved it!!! In it, Boers explains how technological advances in society have actually caused the family, community, and world to grow farther apart. No longer are we a country that sits on the front porch to read a book and drink ice tea in the evening while we converse with our neighbors. Today’s family of four is watching television inside the home on four separate devices.
Now, I’m all about technology…I’m a Design/Technology teacher for crying out loud, but I believe that technology should be assisting the human race in making the world a better place, not driving one another apart. Advancements in technology can take a traditional classroom and turn it into a super-learning center. Technology can help students of all levels excel in ways they never could before. When used as a tool or resource, technology is a beautiful thing. When used as a “get away”…as a substitute for human interaction…technology can become a very bad thing. In other words, we need to make sure we are not abusing the privilege of technology use. From a relational standpoint, advancements in technology can (if we are not careful) cause society to take a step backward with reference to individual ethical and moral foundations. There was a time when Dad or Mom would gather all the children in the living room, and interact with the sole intent of teaching moral principles and building a stronger family. This family time would allow parents to teach concepts such as The Golden Rule, and Love Thy Neighbor, all the while creating a bond that would last a lifetime. These days, Dad is too busy watching the game, Mom is surfing the internet for the latest recipes, little Jimmy is in his room on the X-box, and little Sally is in her room listening to Justin Bieber (unfortunately) while Snapchatting her friends.
When we compare this new high-tech lifestyle to Palmer’s (2004) Circle of Trust theory, we see where there is a major disconnect from the idea of the gathering and sharing of ideas with the end result being a balance of living life and meeting the world’s needs. Instead, we are too busy trying to identify our own needs and keep up with the world’s demands. To this end, the Circle of Trust idea is quickly turning into a Circle of Bust in that we are too focused on the distractions to deal with what is important. I fear that if the Good Samaritan were with us today, he might pass by the wounded Gentile because his nose might be too far buried in his cell phone. Again…not dissing technology, just stating that we need to monitor our tech usage so that we don’t overload on it.
It would appear that we have moved away from the concept of working together as a family or community to meet the needs of our fellow man, and entered the realm of individual satisfaction is our first priority. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1995) writes that this Suum Cuique, or to each his own, idea is unethical in that it obviously does not take into account the rights and needs of others. When we take our focus off of unity and point it only to what makes us happy as individuals, we quickly depart from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (Borgmann, 2006 p. 39).
Boers pleads for a call to remain focused on what is right and what is God’s will for our lives and the lives of the people we come into contact each day. Likewise, I call for us to remain focused on the people around us and how best to utilize technology in our relationships as we strive to grow them and make the bonds stronger.
“We have choices. Many of them. And there is always grace. Lots of it. All things considered…even in the face of burdens and barriers, I need not be shaped, determined, or formed by them” (Boers, 2012).
In other words, we should not let the distractions that come with technological advances define who we are. We should hold steadfast to the lessons we learned as children, while listening to the wisdom being passed on to us by Mom and Dad. We should pass that wisdom on to others as well…in other words…work on building relationships. And technology can help us do just that.
Like I said, I love technology. I am constantly amazed at the awesome things it can help us achieve. Technology has been a blessing from God. But like any blessing, we need to make sure we are using it as it was intended…to help us better our lives…not separate out lives.
Keep up the good fight and always look for ways to use technology to better your life and the lives of others.
‘til next time…Tech It!!!
Boers, A. (2012). Living into focus: Choosing what matters in an age of distraction. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
Palmer, P. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness: the journey towards an undivided life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Bonhoeffer, D. (1995). Ethics. (N.H. Smith,Trans.). New York, NY: Touchstone
Borgmann, A. (2006) Real American ethics: Taking responsibility for our country. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago press.
Mitchell Collin Fairchild