Delete your social media. Get rid of your streaming services. Don’t let your kids have tablets and spend time watching youtube videos. That’s crazy talk, I know. What are we supposed to make of the fact that those actions are unconscionable?
Technology has enslaved you. You probably even know it. We will make comments about being too dependent upon our phones, the television frying kids’ brains, or notice that we close a website only to open a new tab and go straight to that same website. Yet nothing changes, and if people suggest that you really should change your technology habits, that certainly won’t be taken seriously.
So what is technology for? To even ask the question can help us to get on the right track. For if someone suggests a reduction in your use of technology, you will wax eloquently about the great things technology has brought us. We can now save lives by preserving organs. We can read scholarly literature through a web search. We can write posts like this for a wide audience.
Not too long ago one of my friends went on a mission trip to India. If you read in Christian missions history, you will know that sending mail back and forth used to take months. In order to communicate with my friend, however, all he would need to do is have a wifi connection so we could talk over snapchat.
Technology has brought many benefits, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We must recognize the dangers too. We need to ask what technology is for so we can use technology properly. We started using technology and now it’s using us. So let’s start by asking what technology is for.
Technology should help us become more, not less, human. As people created in God’s image we are meant to flourish in right relationship with God, others, and creation. Modern technology, though, has a propensity to make us less human. Technology that does not support the material basis of our lives will only be enslaving.
In an unnerving quote, Craig M. Gay refers to a facebook engineer who says, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”  While not all of the best minds are working on this, the fact that so many are should cause us to worry. Is this really what humanity should look like?
Then Gay recounts some of the work of Nicholas Carr. Carr shows that technology that comes between us and the world then our neurobiology is short-circuited. The gadgets that are meant to bring us promise reduce our growth in learning. Or, as George Dyson put it, “What if the cost of machines that think is people who don’t?” 
The ideological basis of our devotion to technology is not hard to come by: our ideas of incessant human progress, the needed exponential growth of modern capitalism, a division between using things for some purpose and thinking that our use does not shape us, and so on. Because we see nature–including human nature–as a vast and elaborate mechanism, “automatic machine technology” only differs in scale and intricacy, not kind.  This leads us to push the boundaries farther and farther. After all, if the world including ourselves is simply a machine, we can continually remake and remold it in whatever ways we see fit. The ease that modern technology brings us taps into every insidious desire for ease and laziness. This makes resistance extremely difficult.
So if technology should help us and the world as created creatures flourish, then why can we not resist? Gay suggests that it is an “inability to imagine any other way of being-in-the-world beyond that of problem-solving inventiveness.” 
In case you thought this had nothing to do with Christian apologetics, it certainly does. As Martin Buber wrote over 60 years ago, “Whoever knows the world as something to be utilized knows God in the same way.”  Our use of technology shapes our ways of being-in-the-world. We begin to conceptualize differently because of our praxis. Being steeped in a society that buys into this social matrix produces obstacles to responding to the Gospel. So where do we go from here?
Painting a Different Picture
Gay situates our lives in the biblical storyline of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. We are created and embodied beings meant to be in the world. While we have been alienated from God, others, and creation by sin, redemption has come in Jesus Christ. It will come fully and finally when Jesus returns and gives us new resurrected bodies in the new heavens and new earth. There we will dwell in union and communion with God and others. Ordinary life, then, must be affirmed. We cannot see ease and convenience as the most fundamental goals. We have something to learn through difficulties and suffering.
While this might be obvious to any Christian, it is not reflected in our actual lives. After all, this story is a fundamentally different one than endlessly moldable machine nature that makes an enslavement to technology so easy. And yet, Christians actual use of technology probably looks no different than non-Christians. But, comes the objection, technology isn’t the problem but what we do with it. And yet…here we are. While the objection might be technically true, clearly something different lies beneath the surface. After all, technology is a Principality and Power that demands your soul. It will ask for nothing less.
Gay also draws on Wendell Berry’s diagnostic questions for upgrading our technology.  Will these technologies really fulfill the things they promise? Is this new tool actually cheaper than what it replaces? It is as small in scale? Does it use less energy? Is it reparable by a person of moderate intelligent with the necessary tools (that also aren’t exorbitant)? Does the new tool replace or disrupt other goods, including family and communal ties? Albert Borgmann asks whether our technologies are developing the disciplines, habits, and skills that lead to an enriched engagement with reality?  Are our technologies really helping us to become more human? Are they enhancing embodied relationships with others and the world? 
We must re-examine our ends/goals.  What are genuinely human purposes? How are these most judiciously obtained? What are the costs associated with the modern technological system? We must see that personal ends cannot be obtained through merely impersonal means.
Behind all of this, the best way to fight against our technological enslavement is by participating in the Christian community and taking the body and blood of Jesus together.
Seriously, delete your social media. Get rid of the streaming services. And please, please, please stop letting your young kids have exposure to youtube, gaming apps, and more. If you made it this far, you probably think I’m a Luddite who thinks there is no benefit to technology. While being a Luddite in our current cultural moment is probably a good thing, the fact that our technology cannot be criticized without us defending it should set off alarm bells. I mean, what do you think about others who cannot speak forthrightly about flaws in their politicians, significant others, children, and themselves? They aren’t exactly thinking rationally, are they? Are we?
The other real danger is that you nod your head in agreement. “Oh yes, I really am too enslaved to technology. This all really is worrisome. I’m glad I can see that clearly.” And then we enter the next website’s address in order to see the newest stuff while pretty pictures on the screen flash in the background. Wait, did my phone buzz? No, I must have imagined it. Funny how technology does that to us.
If you still aren’t convinced you are enslaved, find a quiet room. Sit in it by yourself for an hour. No books, no phone, no background music, nothing. Simply be alone with your thoughts. See what that is like. Even though I read a ton and thus have formed reading habits in myself, I still find myself torn away from by books in order to, what?, refresh that website one more time?
Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Our master, technology, has accomplished its goal. We cannot get away from technology because it has become part of us. The parasite has found a host, and we have been a willing participant. Only in dying can we live. Practice resurrection.
Notes Craig M. Gay, Modern Technology and the Human Future, 37. He is citing Andrew Keen’s The Internet is Not the Answer, p. 60.
 Cited in ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 95.
 Ibid., 97.
 Cited in ibid., 124.
 Ibid., 179.
 Ibid., 180.
 Ibid., 184.
 Ibid., 188.