3 Problems With Technology
Why do we say things online that we would never say to someone’s face? Why do we make unkind comments about restaurants, hotels, athletes, coaches, teachers, classmates, teammates, or friends? It’s because technology and social media allow us to hide behind a façade of anonymity.
Have you seen talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘mean tweets?’ During this segment, celebrities read mean things people have said about them on Twitter. Here are some mean tweets about me:
- Ed Young, in your case 140 characters is about 137 too many.
- Ed Young has a fake head. (I know my head is huge, but why would someone say that?)
- Oh, brother, more Ed Young kookiness. I guess this is better than sex sermons. (I think they’re referring to The Sexperiment, the book Lisa and I wrote.)
These are things people would never say to my face, yet online they’re emboldened.
Theology or Technology
In theology, we talk about God’s omniscience. That means he knows everything. He’s also omnipresent. That means he’s everywhere. In addition, he’s omnipotent or all-powerful.
But many of us treat technology like theology. Technology is omnipresent. You can’t go anywhere in the world without seeing some form of social media. Technology is omnipotent. And it’s powerful. Knowledge is power, and power is knowledge. It has the power to tear us down or build us up.
Technology can cause us to become prideful. Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, two researchers in this field, write:
Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. Permissive parenting, celebrity culture, and the internet are among the causes of the emerging narcissism epidemic.
Narcissism is another word for pride.
3 Ways Technology Destroys Through Pride
You might be asking yourself how your devotion to your little device or the online world can cause you to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Here are three reasons an unhealthy connection to technology can result in prideful thinking:
#1. Pride elevates us. Lucifer, who was one of God’s angels, tried to elevate himself above God. You can read in Genesis how that turned out. James, the half-brother of Jesus, said this about pride in James 4:6: “God is opposed”—see, that means he doesn’t like it, he hates it—“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” When I’m prideful, it’s my power getting out of control. I try to one-up you to put you down.
#2. Pride humiliates others. Am I the only one who will cut people down to build myself up? I’ll scroll through my social media and think, “I would never say that. I would never post that.” I’m putting them down, many times, to exalt myself. I can say in secret what I would never say to your face. I can post something uncomplimentary to make myself look better than you. That’s pride. The moment you say you don't have it is the moment you have it. I would argue maybe the most modest person here could be the most prideful person here.
#3. Pride suffocates the work of God in your life and in mine. You show me someone who’s prideful and I’ll show you someone who’s not drawn to worship. Worship is everything we say, do, touch, and feel. It’s not just what happens here in this building. Reveal to me someone who’s struggling with pride and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a heart for the church, who doesn’t have a heart for worship.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Simon Peter, knew about pride. When Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, Peter boldly said, “I will never betray you!” Yet when the time came, Peter denied Jesus three times.
That’s why he was able to write, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under”—under, get under it; to go up, you’ve gotta get under—“God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6.
Peter had learned how to be humble. When you’re humble, you’re teachable. You’ll be flexible. You’ll be grateful and vulnerable.
But here’s what’s so ironic about technology. It’s secretive. Yet who we are when no one’s looking is who we are. Eventually, it will come out. It’s seductive. We can be under its control if we’re not careful.
We’ve heard of the Lord’s Prayer. It’s the prayer Jesus taught His disciples when they asked Him how they should pray. Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4. It’s sometimes called the “Our Father” prayer.
The Prayer of Technology
But some of us seem to pray what I call “The Prayer of Technology.”
Our technology, who art online, iPhone be thy name. Thy comments come, my will be done, on Facebook as it is on Instagram. Give us this post our daily boast and forgive us our Tweets as we bash those who Tweet against us. Lead our thumbs into textation and deliver us to me-ville, for vines are the kingdom and followers the power and likes the glory forever and ever. #Amen!
How to Pray Against Pride
Instead, we need to take hold of the Spirit of humility and fight against the urge to exalt ourselves. The following acrostic will help you examine your motivations and intentions.
S – Search me.
E – Empty me.
L – Lead me today, in conversations and in situations, to glorify you.
F – Fill me, baptize me, immerse me in your Spirit.
Technology is great. We need to face it and embrace it. However, we also need to understand that there’s a dark side. It’s a huge mirror that reflects not only the exterior but the interior of your heart and mind.
We’re voyeuristic. We love to see what other people are doing. Granted, we can learn from other people, we can connect with other people, and we can ask questions to people, as never before in the history of the world. However, we have to be careful because social media can pull us away from God.
How to Use Technology Without It Using You
So how can you use technology without it using you?
- Edit your social media posts. What are your posts saying about you? Are they showing a false you?
- Technology is a tool. Use it wisely. Use it to advance God’s kingdom.
- Identify your trigger points. Do some people’s posts cause you envy?
- Spend time with people face to face.
- Collect technology every day. If you have kids, make them put their devices away during dinner.
Allow God to guide the amount of time you spend on social media and for what purposes the internet is used. Be self-controlled and place parameters on screen time. Use your time wisely.
Most of all, examine your heart when sharing online. Take a moment to pause and ask the Holy Spirit to filter your thoughts and words before you publish things that may not be glorifying to God. Keep in mind your speech and actions are what non-believers think of those who follow Jesus Christ.
For more self-examination and practical teaching on applying God’s Word in your own life, visit us at Fellowship Church. We’d love to welcome you in person—or, yes, certainly online as well.
Want to learn more? Watch the related sermon.