By Technology Alone

By John Ballinger

October 19, 2015

There was a great article in the October 7 issue of the Ashland (OH) Times-Gazette that told of the steep learning curve of driving new vehicles with all their safety features; that new car owners actually take classes to learn to drive these technology-laden cars. The article told of people struggling to figure out how to react when certain warning sounds sounded, whether they were supposed to take evasive action or supposed to let the car automatically make the correction for them.


We live in a world of technology. It seems like every month there is some new gadget that is supposed to make our lives easier or faster. The very thought that I can remember “dialing” a phone and waiting my turn on a party-line system makes me feel very old and yet it really wasn’t that long ago. (For those of you who are reading this and don’t know what a party line is, ask someone over 55.)


I found this quote by Arnold Toynbee that addresses the issue of having so many techno-toys: “Man cannot live by technology alone.” Of course, this is a play on the words from Scripture when Jesus was tempted by the devil. After being in the desert for 40 days, Jesus was hungry and so the devil challenged him to turn the rocks into bread to satisfy his hunger. Jesus replied with these words quoted from Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth” (Matthew 4:4, MSG).


Our source of well-being is not to come just from physical things such as the latest gadgets but from having a relationship with God and being in His word. That Toynbee decided to use this Bible verse as the basis for his comment on technology is so appropriate. We can’t live by technology alone. It is not having the latest in gadgetry or being surrounded by the most technology-laden car or house. We are meant to have relationships with one another that are face to face and real with real emotions. Our lives are to be about communicating with each other with laughter, tears, concern, encouragement, and love. The depth of these emotions cannot always be expressed in a cute smiley face emoji at the end of an email or text.


Like it or not, we need each other. We need people in our lives to encourage as well as to challenge us. Encouragement is essential but it is often in the challenging parts of life where we have our most growth as human beings. Jesus told us to love our enemies, which makes the assumption that we will have enemies. It is sometimes those we consider enemies who will teach us the most. It is their challenging our status quo that causes us to look deeper into ourselves and to draw closer to God.


The trouble is that it is so easy to live in our own little worlds of technology and seclude ourselves from the world around us, not getting close to anyone and not letting anyone share the important parts of our lives. When the internet first came into its own, there was an article titled “Online, no one knows you’re a dog.” The point of the story as I remember is that online no one can tell what you look like or how rough or squeaky your voice is or how you are having a very bad hair day. We can remain totally anonymous, secure in our facelessness.


However, we were not created to be unknown. God created each of us to contribute to the world, bad hair days and all. If we are to really live our lives to the fullest, then we have to put ourselves out there. Our hearts can only become more loving and compassionate when they are tested by the world. Our knowledge can only grow larger when we are challenged on what we believe. Our friendships can only become stronger when we have a physical one-on-one relationship with our friends, where we can see each other’s strengths and weaknesses in real life, in real time.


I realize that attacking technology in a blog that is read on the same technology may seem ironic but we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is a place for technology in our lives. The key is to make sure it doesn’t become all of who we are.


Don’t hide your life behind your technology, use it to reach out to someone but—and this is an important part of the sentence—don’t stop there. This week choose to take some time and get to know someone better simply by being together. It might even be your spouse or other family member, but spend some physical time with someone and see who they really are as they discover the same in you.


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