Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mia Freedman on the temptations of technology

This week, I'll be chatting about technology idolatry. It's a constant temptation for me to neglect relationships while I sit at the computer, writing a blog post, reading and responding to emails, or working on a Bible study or seminar.

I laughed as I read this piece by Mia Freedman, one of my favourite columnists, because I recognised myself in it only too well:

Technology ate my holiday. ...

I know I'm not the first to notice how laptops, mobiles and BlackBerries have blurred the line between work and every other aspect of life. ... During my not holiday, I spent several hours working every day. ... Just snatches of time. Three minutes here, 10 minutes there. A phone call. Some social texts. A few emails. Some blogging. ...

I consider myself an accomplished multitasker but trying to work and play simultaneously is a mental shift that's often uncomfortably jarring for me and my loved ones, especially when we're trying to holiday. You see, whenever I'm on my phone or laptop, I lose the ability to hear and all peripheral vision. You can ask me a question repeatedly and I will not hear it or see you because I am in The Technology Tunnel.

This is why I don't have a BlackBerry. During the five minutes I worked on television, I had one. ... "It frees you from your computer!" exhorted Black Berry devotees. ... What they neglected to mention, however, was that a BlackBerry chains your desk to you. ...

Initially, I imposed strict rules governing the use of my BlackBerry. ... I had to limit the number of times I checked it at home.

Like any addict, flimsy mental rules were not enough to keep me clean; I needed razor wire and an electric fence. Since neither came with my BlackBerry, it wasn't long before I was checking my emails IN THE SHOWER. And yes, this is possible if you hold your arms out far enough in front of your body. Needless to say, I was delighted to return my BlackBerry ...

Technology aside, my expectations for holidays are already low due to the face I'm a parent, which means doing your relaxing in relay form. This is interspersed with terse exchanges about whose turn it is for a break. ...

Now I just need to find a holiday destination with no mobile reception or broadband.*

Now, I don't take a laptop or use my mobile phone on holidays (heaven forbid!), I only learned how to SMS a year ago, and I've never had any interest in Twitter or a BlackBerry, although I do love my iPod. But I'm all too familiar with the way technology cuts into rest and relationships.

Like Mia, I don't hear or see anything when I'm working, and I'll sit down for "5 minutes" and find myself still at the computer half an hour later, sometimes to the soundtrack of squabbling children. So this is a constant battle for me!

How do you try to be self-disciplined in your use of technology? I'd welcome any suggestions!

* Mia Freedman's column in The Sunday Age M magazine, May 3, 2009.

image is from stock.xchng


mattnbec said...

I'm not sure that I have stunning ideas about disciplining myself with technology apart from simply getting off it. My kids will sometimes try to shut the laptop or tell me 'No more computer, Mummy!' though - that helps!

Perhaps not directly related but maybe of interest in terms of the temptations of technology...our senior pastor, Andy Gemmill, is currently doing a series if talks called "iWise : Gospel perspectives on the virtual world". So far he's discussed about the primacy of real world relationships over online ones and some of the dangers of facebook. I'm not sure of what he's planning to tackle next, but these first two talks have been really good applications of biblical truth to some issues of technology.

If you're interested, they're available at:


Jean said...

Good advice, and aren't kids great?!

The talks sound interesting.