Is technology isolating us from each other, and a higher truth?

Loren Yadon, Idaho Statesman religion columnist
Loren Yadon, Idaho Statesman religion columnist

As I cross the bridge of time between 2017 and 2018, I am often overcome with the sense that the gap between me and the generation of my grandchildren is hopelessly widening.

The speed and method of communication has changed so drastically that I cannot keep pace. My technological attempts at keeping pace with the world are archaic before I leave the cellphone store. I thought I was being relevant by learning how to email, text message and shop online until I see the condescending looks from school children. I am being left in the proverbial dust in this fast-paced world.

I suppose an older generation should be allowed some caution born from history, so I think it is proper to voice some of my concerns about the modern trends of an increasing technological world.

First, I am worried about the lack of humility that would encourage the wholesome discipline of prayer desperately needed in a such an uncertain world. Perhaps those who rely on the accuracy of the internet as their primary source of truth might not be inclined to ask for help from anyone else, even God. Because they don’t have the wisdom of life experiences to draw upon, I don’t think a lot of young people are prepared to face the crises that will inevitably take place.

Secondly, I am concerned about the lack of wholesome relationships in an increasing technological world where social media gives the false impression of friendship. One of the phenomena that sociologists are seeing today is that a lot of teens are not “hanging out together” like past generations. Families are relying on texting one another, even while in the same room. In my opinion and experience, nothing will replace co-present relationships where people converse face to face; where facial expressions matter; and a personal touch communicates. Facebook will never replace two friends sharing coffee at a downtown café. On-line learning has its advantages, but nothing will replace the student-teacher relationship. The more we seek friends online, studies have shown, the more isolated we become.

The vitriol of social media has led to a rise of bullying, rancor and outrageous expressions. People will say things from a safe distance they would never express to your face. Technology can become the safe haven for cowards and perverts.

My third concern is that our reliance on technology has become so addictive that we’ve reached a point where we cannot live without it. The gravest crisis someone can experience today is to either lose or break their phone, because their whole life is registered on that device. And what if the power grid goes down? Technology can become as addictive as any drug that dominates someone’s life. In fact, it is so addictive that many who read this column might dismiss my concerns as the illogical grumblings of an old man.

The heart of the Christian faith is the development of personal relationships with God and other people. While technology can aid those relationships, it will never replace them. It is my observation that the more one relies on technology, the less they will be involved in biblical Christianity.

Worship music will change; the way the Gospel message is communicated might alter; but the Bible, its message, and the need of a Savior will always be necessary. Everyone will always need a new heart (or spiritual hub) that can only come through a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So, hear my attempt at reaching across the widening gap between the generations, and reach for my extended hand of fellowship. You might be surprised how much we might enjoy one another.

Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise.

The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.