A week ago at our Biblical Counseling and Discipleship Conference, I gave a presentation on technology addiction. I gave a brief overview the influence of technology (which is far more than the internet, iPhones, and Facebook), and then demonstrated the relationship between technology and sin: technology is not inherently sinful, but technology is created with definite purposes, and those purposes may be (and often are) driven by ungodly motives and desires. Then I examined some possible motives for electronic technological addiction and gave some helps for how to counsel and disciple those enslaved to those lusts, provided a bibliography of resources for battling against electronic addictions in biblical ways, and presented a case study of a young man addicted to electronic media (names and some details changed).
Here is an excerpt from my notes, along with a link to download my teaching notes.
John Dyer —
The English term technology is composed of two Greek words: téchnē, which means “craft, skill, or art,” and logía, which refers to the systematic study of a subject. But unlike the way we have been discussing technology, the Greek term téchnē referred to a person’s skill in making things, not the tools they used to do so.…Over time, as these machines grew larger and more powerful, people started distinguishing between “fine arts” like painting and sculpting and the “mechanical arts” (i.e., machine making). Eventually, they stopped using the word technology to refer to crafting skills, and began using it exclusively in reference to mechanical arts. [From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 936-938).]
“We are therefore able to create a simple, encompassing definition of technology: ‘the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes.’” [From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 1090-1091).]
That means that the book I read is just as much a technology as my Kindle. My car is technology (and so was the horse and buggy a generation ago). And so is my watch (and a sundial). And my washer and dryer (and a scrub board). And my television (and radio and wireless). And iPod (and record player). And email (and mail service and telegraphs and the pony express). And a chainsaw (and an ax, shovel, and handsaw). And Facebook (and email, and Twitter, and the telephone).
When we are talking about technology, we need to be careful not to assume that what the younger generation is doing is technology but what I am doing is not technology. Young people might use texting and I might use a telephone that is connected to a cord, but we are both using technology.
That also means that the battle against technological addiction is not a new phenomena.
For our purposes, when I use the word “technology,” I am going to be using it as short-hand for electronic technology and media (since most of us aren’t addicted to the use of shovels). But do be aware that there is much more at stake with technology than merely the latest iPhone or Facebook.