YOU WON’T FIND THIS AMUSING
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
I’ve been thinking. We now live in a world that treasures amusement. We once lived in a world that treasured musing. I do not begrudge anyone who enjoys being amused. After all, amusement can take our minds off of our troubles. Amusement can humour and cheer us. However, it is these same benefits of amusement that can also mislead us into believing that we are meant to be happy and occupied all the time. We perhaps shouldn’t be surprised by this because many now spend the greater proportion of their time in a digital world where they are unwittingly tricked at every turn. In what some see as a metaphor of our age, this digital world invites us to take a front row seat not just in front of our computer screen, but in the Director’s Seat of the ‘Stage of Life’. Author of, ‘Screens And Teens‘, Dr. Kathy Koch, warns that young people in particular, especially Christian teens, are at risk of being unable to think because of their addictive involvement in the digital world. Let’s think about this…
¶ But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
Because the digital world is so vastly different from reality, it can be very difficult for digital natives to adjust back into reality. Dr. Kathy Koch (pronounced, “Cook”) says that when digital natives surf the web, they are in control. But when they interact in the world of reality they often struggle with the reality that they are not in control of their circumstances – the real God is. In the digital world they can get an abundance of information on virtually any subject which can lead them to think that they don’t need the education which their teachers provide. But there is a world of difference between information and education. Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that students are far better able to retain taught knowledge when it is delivered to them by a person, rather than a screen. Dr. Koch also states that digital natives have greatly diminished attention spans which makes worshipful reading of Scripture virtually impossible. She pointed out that the research is clear about the difference between comprehension and retention levels between those who read from a screen, and those who read a physical book. People who read books on a screen retain less than those who read a hardcopy book. Digital natives are more likely to get ‘bored’ in the world of reality. Parents who use electronic tablets or smart-phones to occupy their children – so that they won’t get bored or need their parents attention – are retarding their children’s creativity and ability to learn, interact with others, and be patient.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
“To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click ‘I agree’.”
― Bill Maher, American TV Talkshow Host
DIGITAL INDUCED DEPRESSION
In the digital world, the native is always presented with alternatives to their present experience. ‘Drop Down Menus’ present a digital native with alternate/optional browsing experiences. In the world of reality, the power to change ones present experience doesn’t always exist. The world of reality doesn’t offer us a ‘delete button’ for the negative experiences we go through.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Second Corinthians 12:8-9
We live in a world of reality where bad things happen to good people. In the digital world we can airbrush away wrinkles. In the actual world we must face reality and accept it, especially the following-
- We are not sitting in the Director’s Chair of life – God is.
- We are not the central character in the story of life – God is.
- We are not the hero of either our life or the story unfolding around us – God is.
- We are not going to be happy and occupied all of the time. This reality causes us to rest in God’s love and guidance while enjoying the peace He gives despite our emotional state or circumstances. There is a world of difference between doing nothing and being still (Psalm 46:10).
- We have a better chance of getting what we want if we serve others and help them get what they want. God incarnate is the greatest example of what it means to serve others.
- We are note always going to get what we want when we want. The world of reality is designed by God to accommodate our patience.
- We may acquire information digitally, but not necessarily attain knowledge presented with wisdom by a God-gifted teacher. God has ordained that genuine knowledge can only be received when we demonstrate true humility which enables us to learn from a teacher.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
For those who know me, you will know that I am a digital missionary. I am not a digital native. Much to the surprise of many people, I use a pen to write in my spiral-bound notebook organiser. I tell people that this is my “think pad”. I write out by hand these weekly Pastoral articles, then type them up. I am currently producing a series of thinking radio spots which I script by hand. My current reading project is a 450 page (actual pages of paper) book on philosophy which I plan to finish this weekend. Although I do my daily Bible reading with my iPad, I still use a leather-bound printed Bible each day as well. Within my Bible I place hundreds of sticky notes which contain thoughts, comments, lists, outlines, that I have written. My Bible is highlighted and underlined. When I come to our family dinner table, I leave my phone in the other room. We never have the TV on during dinner. All of these enables me to interact better with a book; more deeply with the Sacred Text; more meaningfully with those I eat with. My great fear is that we, followers of Christ, are becoming dual citizens of two worlds – the digital and the actual – instead of being a Kingdom citizen of the real world where Christ is the Lord who then sends us as His ambassadors into a digital world of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr…) not become overcome by it, but to be a light to it. By doing this, I think we will be better equipped to think, contemplate, ponder, muse, be creative, still, patient, and caring of others. In addition to this, we are less likely to be susceptible to certain mental disorders which being increasingly induced by the consequences of digital addiction.
¶ So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 THE MESSAGE