(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
Ten years ago I was at a church meeting. I was old friends with some of the ministers. I am not sure what the meeting was, but I think it might have been a Synod meeting in Toronto in late fall of 2007. The iPhone and Blackberry were in competition at that time. I did not have any device. I used paper.
When we showed each other pictures of our children, I had an old one paper photo in my wallet. (It was taken five years before and they looked much different.) One of my colleagues had an iPhone. One had a Blackberry. The iPhone accessed the pictures instantly and showed the beautiful pictures of children full-screen in colour. The one with the Blackberry, kept searching the device to locate the pictures of his beloved children. He found a picture, but it took a long time and it was not full screen.
I recall thinking that Blackberry might be in trouble. I was loyal to Blackberry and proud of their “Made in Waterloo-Region” accomplishments. I began to worry about their viability. If techno-illiterates like ministers could find things on an iPhone, then there was going to be disruption.
When I finally had to get a mobile phone (it was now expected of ministers to be accessible at all times) I got an iPhone 5. It was the world in my hands, and when I had to turn it off, I felt anxious and alone. Like most relationships we plunge into with hearts aflutter, our love affair with digital technology promised us the world: more friends, money and democracy! shipping of products! A laugh a minute, and a constant party at our fingertips. It was something to do while we wait in a room.
Today, when my phone is on, and I am expecting a text or call, I feel anxious. I can and do use hands free technology while driving. I often hang up by accident. I am not very good at this. Now, I spend a lot more time with the device turned off . That is when I truly relax. The love affair I once enjoyed with digital technology is over — and I know I’m not alone.
After years of a love affair with technology, I now have a growing mistrust of digital technology. There are headlines noting how Facebook and Twitter are eroding democratic values. Allegations of election tampering by foreign interests are alarming.
Last month we learned that the Canadian government is “really worried” about cyber-attacks that have targeted critical infrastructure.
Nearly half of millennials worry about the negative effects of social media on their mental and physical health, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
The church is about innovation. Embodying God’s new hope, new life, and community for the world. It is time to reclaim this identity in a digital world, not with gadgetry, but with values.
There are values that last. Relationships can be life-giving and redemptive. We can use digital technology to enhance our lives, but I hope we never stop touching each other with kindness, love, and affection.
I rejoice that we livestream our worship each week and get marvelous messages from people who find great hope in what we do here at Knox Waterloo. Technology is a tool.
I Corinthians 13 says: Some things last. Some things are worth investing in. “Faith, hope and love” are worthy of our finest investment. Thanks be to God.