People who have lost friends because of how something said that technology is too risky when it comes to lovingly and intimately sharing the Gospel with others.
So much can be taken the wrong way on websites and social media, they say, because readers do not always put the same emphasis where the writer intended, or maybe because readers tend to place a stronger emphasis where only a small amount was intended. .. and this is just the beginning. Do not get them started on film and radio, they say, because these are even worse. Watching a person on screen move around and speak may overcome this emphasis issue, but these mediums are scattering a virtual net over a sea of people, and not appropriately on the individual in his or her living room. There is still too much distance between the medium and the individual, they say. Above all, they say, technology is bad because it keeps those “youngins'” noses out of the good book and apart from life and godliness!
These people may be right. Still, as an educator, my job is to question the traditional structure in order to understand how it works, and sometimes, the answers to these questions stand in direct opposition to what “the experts” have been telling me. So far, my questions have shown that what I've been hearing is a myth-in actuality: people are able to learn the truth through the various media outlets around us simply because virtual communication has all but replaced face-to-face communication. This is diagnosed in five principles:
1. How does technology affect the masses? – Principle 1: Multiple Imports
God has blessed man with the ability to think, and as such-create. Think about it, how much time would it take you to just sit down, gather some spare parts of material, and build something like a camera from scratch? What about a car? A skyscraper? Man has created multiple devices through which we frequently communicate and gather information. The telephone is deemed a necessity in today's society, and every 8-year-old has two TVs in their bedroom unless they just turn on Netflix from their laptops.
The lesson is that we have no escape from being bombarded with information. Likewise we have no excuse for not getting pertinent information, especially the Gospel, out to the world.
2. Who uses this technology? – Principle 2: Usage Frequency
Although the number of short wave radio and television users is slowly diminishing as a result of digital broadcasting, the combined total is still calculated in terms of bills. Also, with the introduction of OTT devices promoting industry transformation in less than five years, these numbers will grow before radio and TV are made obolete, should that happen. In terms of Internet and cell phone use, many reports say that there are around 2.3 billion Internet users and more than 6 billion cell phone users!
I vividly recall going into Outback Steakhouse one time and looking at the waiting area in the lobby of the restaurant. Learning that a party of ten was waiting to be seated, I stood in amazement as I noticed that none of them were speaking to the others, and that each person was tinkering with his / her smartphone.
The lesson is that if people are not interacting face-to-face, they are definitely likely to be on a machine that allows them to receive input from outside sources.
3. Why do people really so heavily on this technology? – Principle 3: Research Convenience
You can probably remember a time when you were in a group at a restaurant and the discussion led to an interesting question, and someone pulled out their smartphone to either search Google's wisdom or to consult Siri, the expert. Likewise, many mothers will suspend going to a doctor for their sick child if, for the sake of mere convenience, they can just ask for medicinal advice from a Facebook friend who just had a similar experience.
The lesson is that people are becoming their own best reference. They are the ones who will do the searching and concluding. Whether they admit to their reliance on others to make this possible, or not, is another story-but the fact remains that people are not going to take the time to go research in a library or schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist if they can find answers more swiftly on their own.
4. Why is this technology so engaging for so many? – Principle 4: Aesthetic Pleasure
I've never read the book Preaching to a Programmed People, but I know that Timothy Turner's basic tenet is that preachers need to better understand how to communicate to people who are so conditioned to television.
The lesson is that people are just not going to watch a video, let alone listen to a recording, that is even slightly unappetizing. When the Gospel is presented in a way that fits the programmed condition to which most people are accredited, people will pay attention long enough to the message they so needately need to hear.
5. What does technology do from afar that I can not do in person? – Principle 5: Content Presence
For countries like China, where the government has effectively blocked websites such as YouTube from the general public, radio broadcasting becomes an important tool for going across its borders. For Muslim-controlled societies in the Middle East, where the government has effectively pretended outside missionaries from “infiltrating” the public, radio broadcasting becomes an important tool for going across these borders.
The lesson is that technology can push the Gospel into areas that might not otherwise receive the saving message. Digital form, in such cases, is better than no form at all.
In conclusion …
All of this is not to take away from the fact that our noses do need to be in the greatest book, gaining all of that which pertains to life and godliness. Technology should not replace a hearty meal on the meat of God's Word, but we must not be so hasty to say that it has absolutely no place on the table.