The Negative Effects of Digital Technology

How does digital technology have a negative impact on our lives? (Written from a Christian perspective.)

By Erin Kim

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Distractions in our surroundings, like technology, can have an effect on our daily lives, and change who we are. Although our phones may be beneficial to our lives, it can also be a distracting portion that takes up most of our time. With such advanced technology, people do everything with their phones, whether it is to text, facetime, read, or do homework. Most importantly, the use of modern technology draws us away from the real society and away from God, into our virtual minds. Tony Reinke, the author of Six Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, discusses how the phone is changing us, by stating that we are becoming of what we behold, we are ignoring our finiteness, we are multitasking what should be unitasked, we are forgetting the joy of embodiment, we are losing interest in the gathered church, and that we are growing careless with our words.

We as humans tend to spend most of our time with what we love, and become what we behold or worship. “To worship an idol is to become like the idol, and what we love to behold is what we worship,” says Christian writer Tony Reinke. We might not “pray” to our phones, but we may spend the most time with it, put it as our first priority, and grasp it for dear life. This is a sense of idol worship. We will unintentionally isolate ourselves from our surroundings, to find distractions pleasing to the eye, which can affect who we are. “When you begin to become shallow in your interactions with people, you can become habituated to that,” states Tony Reinke. Habits are created only by repetition, and constant action of something. When we start to use our phones to converse with someone, we won’t see the need to meet them in person. Because we spend the most time on our phones, we forget about our relationship with God and turn to our phones in times of struggle.

We forget that we are finite beings on Earth, and look for things in our virtual life that we can make us seem that we are immortal. “We are finite human beings, and our phones offer everything,” claims Tony Reinke. We own smartphones because of the fear we have of being left behind in what is happening in the world. We as humans tend to lose a sense of our limitations, and dwell on our phones to “become like God.” We are thirsty for more knowledge, and want to know whatever we can get our hands on. “We need to embrace our finitude. If we really own up to our finitude and the fact that a life well lived is a life lived carefully.” This quote by Tony Reinke states a strong point on owning up to life that we have limits, and that we should live life to its fullest without exceeding our limitations. We should know our limits, and do what we can to use our limits in a beneficial way for the time we have on Earth. Our finiteness should be kept in mind, and we should life to its fullest without going over our limits.

Everyone gets distracted in all matters, and ends up multitasking what should be unitasked. “The scripture calls us to a mind of self- reflection often getting thwarted by multitasking.” This quote explains that we as humans get distracted easily, and will do multiple things at once. If it is important, then it is worth being unitasked. We should show importance to something by unitasking it, and solely focusing on it without any distractions. Self control should be upon ourselves from the distractions around us, that are pulling us away from what needs to be done. “I think we are a very distracted culture, and are trying to multitask what shouldn’t be multitasked,” says Groothuis. For example, the majority of the freshman attending New Covenant Academy use their phones and text each other while doing their homework. We get distracted easily by Facebook notifications, or other trivial matter. Just one look at a notification adds up to several hours that the students have wasted, where they could have finished more homework. Humans always get distracted, and mostly multitasks what shouldn’t be multitasked.

Above: Even in social settings, people are glued to their phones.

Due to the advancement of modern technology, we take shortcuts in life which results in forgetting the joy of embodiment with one another.”Fullness of joy comes with one personality interacting with other personalities.” This quote is quite true. What’s life with living with the same surroundings, meeting the same people? The joy of embodiment is lost because we are always glued to our phones. We think of texting, facetiming, or calling when we want to talk to someone, and emoticons to show our expressions. We get lazy of meeting each other face to face, which can slowly deteriorate one’s relationships. “Social media can be a useful extension of our embodied relationships, but not as a replacement.” Yes, we are holistic creatures created by God, and are meant to express our feelings, thoughts, and imagination. For example, how many times have you sent a text to your friends as a joke, but they took it seriously? This is a step to ruining a relationship. When talking face- to- face, you are understood more clearly because of your facial expressions, gestures, and tone of your voice. We are leaving behind the importance of face- to- face conversations, and replacing it with the “ghost- to- ghost” conversation.

We put our distractions such as our phone as our first priority, and slowly lose interest in the gathered church. “We’re to worship together, confess our sins, have communion, embrace people, and show our love,” says Tony Reinke. Even if our bodies are present in the church, the majority of our minds are absent in the church. We fiddle with our phones, and look for things that are more promising, entertaining, and more disembodied than the joy of God in the embodied fellowship. We try to get closer to what pleases our eye in the present time, without thinking what will please us in the future. “When people come and worship in spirit and in truth there is the presence and dynamic of the Holy Spirit,” mentions Tom Reinke. Worshipping, praising, and listening to His words are far more effective with others that have the same purpose and goal in their Christian life. Some forget this, and think that a skype call or video will be the same. With our phones, we think that we can do anything and everything. But essentially, some things are far more effective and realistic when physically done. Without knowing, many of us are not thinking of church as an interest, but as a duty of the Christian religion.

Because of social media and our phones, we don’t think before we talk, but instead just throw our words out without knowing that our word choices might affect others. “We are told to be careful how we speak and let our words be few,” is constantly mentioned in Proverbs. Our technologies allow us to talk endlessly, and say things that should not have been said. But once we take it back, it is too late. Someone on the other end has already been affected by what you have sent. “Technology may not be the physical voice, but it’s some kind of message.” We need to keep in mind of integrity when online, and choose what we need to say and don’t need to say. If we can’t say something face- to- face, then it also shouldn’t be sent through text. We need to think of our phones as tools to connect, but not to mindlessly say what we want, not caring about how others are going to feel. Our words should be carefully thought of before saying, and should keep in mind that we still need to have integrity whether we are online or offline.

Everyone is becoming what we behold, ignoring our finiteness, multitasking what should be unitasked, forgetting the joy of embodiment, losing interest in the gathered church, and growing careless with our words. We may separate from our important relationships with family and friends, and dwell on what is pleasant to our eyes. Unintentionally, distractions from our phones are used as an excuse in many thing. But importantly, we isolate ourselves from God, walking away from the purpose in life that God has created us with.

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