Ministerial message: Technology needs to be put in its place

I seem to have trouble keeping a cell phone intact and in one piece.

A little more than a year ago, I dropped my phone in a parking lot. The case flipped open as it fell and cell phone met pavement. Pavement won.

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More recently I drove my cell phone off my car. Hands full, I set it down on the hood of the car to hold some papers in place and then simply forgot about it, until I drove away. Cell phone met pavement. And pavement won, again!

All of which got me wondering if my cell phone mishaps were a sign it was time to take a “technology sabbatical”. So I thought seriously about giving up cell phones and going without one.

When I realized the cost of replacing a second cell phone in a year I thought even more seriously about it. But how does one even do that, go without a cell phone, in this day and age? Remembering that there are no pay phones if you have problems on the road; that all those paper maps I wore out and threw away are now contained in one small “app”; and that I no longer own a “regular” camera; I relented, paid the price and got another cell phone, this time fortified with every non-shatter accessory available. But as I did, it crossed my mind more than once; when exactly, and how, did having a cell phone become this necessary?

Yuval Noah Harari, in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, contends we are headed towards a future where technology controls more and more of our lives when he writes, “already today we are becoming tiny chips inside a giant data processing system that nobody really understands.

“Every day I absorb countless data bits through emails, tweets and articles, process the data, and transmit back new bits through more emails, tweets and articles.

“I don’t really know where I fit into the great scheme of things, or how my bits of data connect with the bits produced by billions of other humans and computers. And I don’t have time to find out, because I am too busy answering all these emails.”

Growing up, we were led to believe that technology was going to make everything easier thus freeing up time for the important things in life. What I see now however, is that it has had almost the opposite effect.

Although I have another cell phone to support the work I do and the lifestyle I live, I’ve decided this new phone is going to be put in its proper place both literally and figuratively. My family and friends, my faith and community are what define who I am.

So step aside technology, I’m signing up for “unlimited access” to the important things; the things that bring meaning to life.

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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