I just got my first iPhone late last year. Seven years after the first iPhone was introduced. From the bag phone, to the flip phone, and now, late to the game with my iPhone 5, I am probably in the early- or late-majority on the diffusion of innovation scale, technologically speaking. My kids would probably consider me a "laggard" on this scale. It's not that I don't trust technology or can't appreciate the wow-factor of the latest gizmo or gadget. I'm just reluctant to spend my money on something that I'm not convinced I need or will improve my life. Case in point: I still don't know why we need a microwave when I can heat everything on the stove, so we don't have one.
All that said, I like my iPhone very much. I can record interviews and shoot video on the fly. I can get help navigating my way to off-site meetings. I can check my work e-mail all day every day. My phone has become a handy tool for doing business. I'm not quite to the point of sleeping with my phone (most nights), but I see why Millennials are prone to this. And I'll admit, taking selfies is just plain fun.
Author Aimee Cottle, herself a Millennial, helps sort out the differences in the way young adults use and view technology versus older adults. Key to bridging our understanding of how Millennials navigate the world compared to women like me (I'm at the tail end of the Boomers), Aimee reminds us, "I don't just 'prefer' to text or to keep notes on my phone and not on paper. I do it because that's the technology I had growing up."
Whether you're a digital native or the chief elder of your generational tribe, TCW regular contributor Kelli B. Trujillo takes a critical look at whether our use of technology is good for our souls. She offers some important questions to ask about the role technology plays in our lives, and whether we're mastering it, or it's mastering us.
When the recent story about World Vision's hiring practices broke on our flagship site, ChristianityToday.com, I deplored technology. No, strike that. I deplored the way Christians were abusing technology. More specifically, I was horrified by the vitriolic way in which Christians aired their views in the comments sections following the story. Within 12 hours of the story breaking, tens of thousands of readers had seen the story, and hundreds had commented on it. Today as I write this, there are more than 68,000 shares on Facebook, and well over 1,000 comments, and this only represents a portion of the traffic the story generated. The world is watching, and if all it knew of Christians was the exchange on CT's site, I doubt we'd have many new subscribers to the faith, a faith that is supposed to be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Laura Turner, regular contributor to our sister site, Her.meneutics, offers five steps to consider before engaging with others online. This is a must-read for every Christian—every human, really—who uses technology.
For all of the benefits technology offers us, it also allows us the freedom to be our worst selves. As Christians, the anonymity of online engagement doesn't give us license to say and do what we want. How we act and what we say and do online matters. In a sense, the World Vision comments are like a stream of selfies—a series of snapshots of the church at her worst.
We can do better. The articles in this week's issue of TCW are designed to help. Please (kindly) comment after the articles and let us know what you think.
Marian V. Liautaud