13 January 2017

Relationships and Technology

by David Cooper
(Final year Bachelor of Theology student, Manukau campus)

I have been thinking about technology and how it affects our lives, especially our relationships.

I am in my early fifties so I know what it was like growing up without cell phones and computers, but I also have learnt to benefit personally from the use of popular hardware and software to accomplish tasks quicker, and keep in touch with family and friends for free. Email and Facebook have been a godsend in many ways, but not all technology is good.

I, like others, have noticed alarming trends that associate these technologies with increases in things such as, communication difficulties within families, isolation from “the real world”, less time spent together doing physical activities, and more susceptibility to online manipulation. I have not read or studied about these things – these are my own observations over a number of years.

Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. All these new technologies are not bad within themselves, and indeed have many positive benefits. However, I believe we could all benefit by taking stock of our time and making sure that we use these technologies in a way that is both balanced and beneficial, not just personally but also to those we love and care about.

Here are some challenges I propose for 2017:

  • Spend some quality time regularly together with your family without any distractions from cellphones, Facebook, etc. This will help build “real connections” rather than surface ones.
  • Remember that friends are not “virtual” but real people with feelings. They connect with you by hugs and kisses, by looking in each other’s eyes and talking face to face. This will make you feel great inside and also help you grow in self-confidence and in real world communication skills.
  • Monitor the amount of time you spend on social media. It is good as long as it is balanced and not inappropriate. You might find it a blessing to spend a little less time on social media and more time with the Lord in prayer or reading a good book on theology!
  • When you come to study or work why not talk face to face with others you don’t know? Or strengthen relationships with those you know by talking and listening to them face to face? Avoid the temptation to consume every spare moment by checking Facebook or your cell phone.

These are only suggestions. They are not criticisms. We are in this together. We all face the same challenges and trends in our society. I hope as Christians we can take full advantage of the technologies that we have and use them for the glory of God
(1 Cor 10:30-32). But I also hope and pray that we don’t lose the personal, human, tangible ways of communication that makes people aware that they are truly loved and not alone in our busy, high-tech, consumer orientated-culture.

I’d love your feedback and your suggestions for how we use technology without it consuming us!