Technologically Challenged

blogger-336371_960_720    In today’s world, technology is everywhere. Whether it’s the personal computers we use at home, the tablets we use on the go, our mobile phones, or even our automobiles we find technology and connectivity to be a part of our daily lives. Many of our homes have satellite or cable TV capable of being programmed remotely from anywhere in the world. Forget to program your favorite show to record and you’re on a business trip in Japan? Just login from your mobile device and you can setup the recording from there. Even our homes can have alarm systems, light switches, and door locks that can be activated remotely from most anywhere on Earth. Technology has changed the way we live and it is everywhere.

I must confess to being old enough to have grown up before the computer age. Never once in my twelve years of public schooling did I ever touch a computer. I think the school actually may have had a computer during my senior high years, I remember some talk of punch cards and something about a bunch of ones and zeroes, but I never actually saw such a device so I can neither confirm nor deny its existence. And during most of my youth my family was relegated to a single 19” black and white TV which received exactly 4 channels, unless you stood with your hand on the antenna in just the right spot so that channel 2 came in. I think I was 15 or 16 before I realized the Minnesota Vikings wore purple.

I grew up thinking Captain Kirk wore a slightly lighter shade of gray uniform than Scottie or Mr. Spock. Imagine my surprise when I saw Star Trek in living color for the first time. A whole new world was upon me! But even the creators of Star Trek couldn’t anticipate the technology we already have in our world today. The original Enterprise being operated by toggle switches and sliders instead of the touch screens and capacitive switches we are already familiar with. And Kirk’s communicator looks like a vintage flip phone from the 1990’s.

Being as old as I am, I remember in my first professional job using a Smith-Corona typewriter and feeling lucky we had the electric version that could go backwards and correct my copious typos. Of course, it could only do that if you had not yet moved on to the next line. And when I wanted to produce a form that had more than one size font, I was introduced to the art of hand keylining, where we blew the original up in size and pasted the hand-typed text we wanted in the smaller font, then shrunk the whole thing back down. A form I could create and print in about 15 minutes using today’s technology might’ve taken 2-3 days to make back then.

But technology slowly crept up on me. First it was video games in local arcades, then home gaming systems offering such technological triumphs as Pong and Asteroids. Sony’s Walkman let me listen to my music on the go and it wasn’t long before my children were asking for Gameboys for Christmas. VCR’s became affordable and nearly every home had one. Cassette tapes replaced the 8 tracks I grew up with and then along came the compact disc. Somewhere around 1993 I made my first car drive with mobile phone technology, a large bag phone that took up the entire passenger seat of my car. But I was able to stay in touch with the office while I drove to our other facility. It was amazing and it made me feel important.

Not long after that I bought my first home computer. I remember showing my two daughters how to use it; and I have fond memories of the familiar AOL voice telling the three of us: “You’ve got mail!” Five and a quarter floppies gave way to three and a half floppies and kilobytes grew to megabytes and then gigabytes and now terabytes (or maybe more for all I know!). Dial up connections became DSL connections and today we can download faster than our original computer could even process the data. And the pace of technology has become so fast we buy our mobile phones on plans that allow us to exchange them every six months.

We even have wrist watches that perform the tasks of our mobile phones and every time we get in our automobile our phone synchronizes to the car and we can access our phone books and text messages through our car’s Bluetooth connection. While this is fine technology for our passengers, the temptation of staying connected while we drive has led to the unintended consequence of distracted driving, a problem thought to be every bit as dangerous and deadly as drinking and driving.  And while having the Google maps app in our mobile phone give us turn by turn directions through our car’s audio system sure is convenient, when we’re connected like this all the time when do we get time to rest? When do we have time for family and friends and our Creator?

“Be still and know I am God,” declares the Psalmist in Psalm 46:10.  And isn’t this the challenge many of us face today in our connected, technological world?

I recently made a change in my life that I feel is a change for the better. I sold my technologically current, Bluetooth-equipped, mobile hotspot on wheels and have chosen instead to drive my low tech, early 90’s Mazda Miata on a daily basis. The Miata has a stereo, but the CD player doesn’t work and there’s no Bluetooth. It has air conditioning but it has long since stopped working. There are no remote control buttons on the steering wheel and when the top is down you can’t really hear the stereo too well anyway so I tend to leave it off. Just man and machine. The only connectivity is the connection to the road I feel through the steering wheel and the wind that is blowing in my hair (well…I used to have hair).

Rear 3 Quarter View 090214  When I put the top down and hit the road in my Miata, I see, taste, and smell nature in a very experiential way. Just me and my machine and God’s creation. My phone may be ringing but I won’t answer because I can’t hear anyway with all this wind in my face. But I am taking in reality in a way that maybe is lost in today’s technological world and I am feeling God’s presence because there’s nothing else to distract me. I motor on giving praise to the One who created and sustains all that is around me as I unwind from my busy workday.

Maybe a sports car isn’t your way of disconnecting from today’s technological age, but taking the time to disconnect from the world and to connect with Him is vital for each of us. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  So what is your way of turning off the connected world and plugging in to your Lord and Savior?

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