Technological Youth

This begins a series of posts based on a TED talk delivered MIT professor Dr. Sherry Turkle that was posted on Scott Elliot’s blog, Resurrected Living. For the full video, go here.

We begin this series with a look at the relative youth of our technology:

I love the way the crowd chuckles when Dr. Turkle references a time when we wondered if we could keep computers busy. It seems so silly now, but we are not so far removed from those days. Although many of us lived in those times, the memory fades like vapor quickly dissipating . We know it’s true, but the recollection of details or feelings is elusive. It’s why we often say things like, “I don’t know how we did this before cell phones.

The speed at which technology advances dizzies the mind. By the time our hands are on the newest gadget, television advertisements tease the coming of the next generation that will render your gadget obsolete. Our eyes are always set forward on the future — the next big thing that will inevitably, certainly change our lives forever.

Because of this pace, it is easy to forget that most of this is relatively new. Technological advancement has been the norm since the dawn of man, but it has never moved this quickly. We had centuries to ponder the implications of the printing press; decades to explore the impact of the radio or the telephone. But the internet, social networks, and our mobile devices? We barely have time to think before we’re on to the next big thing.

It reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park. After the scientists explore the park for the first time, they sit at lunch discussing the implications of what they have seen. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldbloom) worries that they will be literally devoured by their technology. He warns:

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

We are often so focused on what a new technology will allow us to do that we can fail to see the implications of doing so.

What effect does owning a cell phone have on the ways our children relate to one another? Do e-readers affect the way our brains retain information? How is the popularity of Bible apps affecting Christians’ relationship to Scripture?

I don’t have the answers to these types of questions, but they are ones we should be talking about in our communities. Thinking deeply about implications takes time and conversation. It requires the seeking of wisdom greater than ourselves.

Because these technologies are still very young. And the wave of technology isn’t slowing down. If we simply ride the wave, we risk being devoured by it.

Do you ever feel like you are simply riding the technological wave without asking about the consequences?

How can we begin to explore the implications of our ever-shifting technology and begin asking the deeper questions together?

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