We live in an unprecedented age of digital connectivity. In this strange new world, we are electronically linked to endless numbers of people and places as well as a flood of information. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets connect us to just about everyone and everything. We are connected all the time and everywhere.
It has all happened so fast. Personal computers have only been in homes since the late 1970s. And the ubiquitous smartphone —now in the pockets and purses of more than 2.5 billion people—was only unveiled in 2007. Tim Challies writes: “Over the past three decades, digital technologies have powerfully changed our lives. They are woven into the very way we understand and relate to the world around us. We are now a digital culture. We are no longer who and what we were just a few decades ago.”
Indeed, we are the first generation to experience this brave new culture of digital connectivity, and those who are under fifteen years of age have never known anything different. While many of us are immigrants to this new digital age, our children and grandchildren are natives. It’s all they’ve ever known. It’s all they will know.
Our culture is a swelling sea of digital connectedness. But are we, as Christians, becoming spiritually untethered in the midst of it? Are we being careful and wise with our technology? Are we losing our spiritual moorings in this vast and growing ocean of digital technology and omni-connectedness? Has the endless connectedness of our modern age actually made us less connected to the things that really matter, things that have ultimate significance? For instance, has it made us less connected to God and to our families? Could it be that our gadgets and gizmos that guarantee so much are actually fostering a new level of spiritual and relational superficiality in our lives? Isn’t it time to stop and ask, Do I own my technology or does my technology own me? God’s Word states, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15; see also Rom. 12:2).
More than a directive to improve time management, this is a divine command to live circumspectly—to walk with God carefully, purposefully, and wisely. Christians should never live passively, allowing the culture to shape and mold them into its image. Indeed, if we are not careful, the tools of digital technology that we have shaped will soon be shaping us. Social scientists have demonstrated that this is already happening in our culture. Indeed, millions are addicted to their screens because of social media, video games, news, sports, and entertainment. Dear Christian, this will happen to you if you let the flood of new digital technology roll over you without any serious reflection about how best to harness it for good. Therefore, take some time to evaluate your use of digital technology. And may your most solid and growing connection be to Christ.