Thursday, July 25, 2013

The future and digital media

Another week into our reading of The Next Story and I’m surprised by how much it resonates with me as I go about daily life. I wonder if you’re finding that too. There’s a number of different ideas that I could comment on at this point, but I thought I’d keep it to the ideas that have hit me the hardest to this point.

I was particularly struck by the idea that every new technology holds within itself not just advantages, but also disadvantages, and that initially, the advantages are often all we notice. The internet (and to some extent the smartphone) is certainly like that for me - I constantly find myself marvelling at the things I can do “on the go” which I couldn’t have done ten years ago. I can pay bills online, in hardly any time at all; I can check my email while I’m waiting in line at the supermarket; I can be reached anywhere, and at any time.

What have been the disadvantages, I’ve found myself wondering this week? Well - I don’t really like the idea that anyone should be able to contact me anytime, and I don’t like the indignation which sometimes greets my decision not to answer the phone. In some ways, I’ve lost the ability to be out of touch. I also wonder whether the new ease with which I feel I should be able to get everything done has led me to be unrealistic about what I can achieve in a day, and then to feel a lingering sense of guilt when I don’t hit my lofty goals. I love the convenience and fun of our iPad - but I hate the constant wrangling with my children about how much they can play on it. I need to realise a bit more that those are all problems which I’ve allowed into my life along with the positives that come with them.

I touched last week on the idea of “mythic” technology - Challies’ statement that it is now impossible to imagine life without the technologies we now rely on - and the feeling that we will have to change ourselves and our way of life instead. As I’ve reflected this week on the pervasive nature of technology (and particularly the internet) in our society, and how it is only likely to increase in the future, I have to admit, I’ve felt more uneasy about it than ever before. I fear the unknown, and I particularly fear a future for my kids that I don’t really know about yet. How will it be a different world for them, because of digital media? What will they encounter that is out of my control, and how will it affect and change them?

It’s been good for me to remember in all this that although there are many things I cannot control or potentially even understand, the God we serve is the God of the past, and the present, and the future - and nothing is beyond his understanding or control.

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