Let us then never fall into the sleep that stupefies the rest of the world: let us keep awake, with our wits about us. (1 Thessalonians 5:6 PHILLIPS)
Technology can be our friend. It created the laptop on which I am writing this, the Internet on which I posted it, the social media whereupon I distributed it, and the device upon which you are reading it, among many other more beneficial things.
This same technology, however, can also be our enemy, as it robs our productive time, pushes our dopamine buttons relentlessly, decimates our attention spans and erodes our ability to relate to one another outside of cyberspace. It seems that the more tech savvy we become, the less aware we are of the real world around us.
This phenomenon can affect any generation, of course, but kids today have never known a world without this technology. Texting is as natural to them as breathing. When new tech becomes available that might make the head of someone my age blow up, kids adapt to it instantly, as though they were part machine.
What concerns me is that with all this information at the touch of a button (or a voice command—who needs buttons anymore?), an entire generation may be losing its ability to think critically. Anyone can retrieve copious amounts of information off the interwebs, but do they know what to do with it? It’s bad enough when kids fall for the clickbait, but when the generation that’s supposed to be teaching them how to make sense of it all is caught up with the rest of the sheeple in the fake news maelstrom, then the kids don’t stand a chance.
The 21st-century paradox of technology is to be totally connected, yet totally oblivious. This needs to stop. It needs to stop because there is a real world out here with real people in it that have real needs that we were uniquely designed to meet. God can’t draw our attention to these people and these needs if we’re busy taking selfies instead of looking for signs.
Yes, technology is fun. There is a 99% chance that if you’re reading this, you found it by a link on social media. And obviously I spend a fair amount of time on there as well, or I wouldn’t have known where and how to post this.
The main issue is where, and how intently, we are focusing our attention. We can’t teach our children to be more aware of the world around them if we aren’t, because as every parent knows, kids will do what they see us doing before they’ll do what they hear us saying.
It all comes down to self-control, really. Any intelligent adult is capable of prioritizing his or her activities and determining which of them should receive the most time devoted to them. But be honest now. Are you better at planning your work or working your plan? To an unfocused person, even the planning process becomes busywork, until the planning becomes an end in itself. I’m done planning my week, so . . . TIME FOR FACEBOOK!
Staying awake and alert over the long term requires having a driving purpose or mission. Without something like that to focus on, your mind will drift, and your body will follow (since that is where your mind is located). Before long, you’ll get to a place where you stop to look at your life and wonder, “What happened to me? How did I end up here?”
And if you can’t figure out how your own life got off track, then how could you expect your kids, who have never had a chance to get their lives ON track, to have any kind of motivation to wake up, rise above the masses and make a difference in the world?
We have to be on our guard at all times against anything that would deter us from our main mission. For our own sakes, and for the sakes of the kids who are watching us and trying to make sense of their own lives. They’ll never even understand the concept of trying to find their calling if they don’t first observe what it looks like to seek after it. And they’ll never be prepared to rise to the occasion if they are unaware that an occasion is even taking place right in front of them.
Therefore it falls to us be more intentional about being awake and aware. We can’t guarantee that our children will employ self-control just because we model it, but it’s for certain that they won’t if we don’t.