On Friday, March 2nd author and speaker Andy Crouch will be in Richmond to speak about his latest book, The Tech Wise Family, in a free event hosted by Third Church. He will also be the keynote speaker for Common Good RVA on Saturday morning. I would like to encourage you all to come join us for what looks to be a profoundly helpful evening—even if you aren’t a parent!
For better or worse, all of us have a relationship with technology. Perhaps that relationship is a healthy one where you can be present with those around you, focus on the important parts of life, and use technology as a tool to help you along the way. But if you are like me, then in some way, shape, or form technology has crept from the category of helpful to that of intrusive and even destructive.
“Technology is only very good…” Andy Crouch writes, “…if it can help us become the persons we were meant to be.” How has technology encroached upon your own life and the lives of your children, roommates, friends, and coworkers? Is it helping you to become the person you were meant to be? That is the hope, or at least it is my hope though not my experience.
My daughter Hannah, who is only two years old, has already learned that sometimes the black rectangle that daddy holds in his hand is a rival to and in competition with her for my attention. Technology doesn’t only impact the parent/child relationship, but also those relationships we have with each other as adults. Recent work by Sherry Turkle, a professor and author at M.I.T., has also highlighted the fact that technology can cost us. In a piece for the NY Times she writes: “One college junior tried to capture what is wrong about life in his generation. ‘Our texts are fine,’ he said. ‘It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.’”
We are now in observing Lent—a time in the Church calendar where we meditate upon the final weeks of Jesus’ life, our own lives, and focus upon themes of repentance. It is a period of disruption, where we can refuse and fast from those things which prevent spiritual growth and embrace what is good and true and beautiful. It is common for people to talk about giving something up for Lent. But it really is about making room to embrace something much better. We clear away the wreckage in order to move forward and towards others. Might I suggest reassessing your relationship with technology this Lenten season? Pick up Andy’s book; register for the event on March 2nd at Third Church; put the phone down; and connect with your roommate, spouse, or child. I’ll join you along the way, as well as share stories of our inevitable failures and attempts.