Professional life requires that one live with the tension of using technology and remembering to distrust it. ― Sherry Turkle

U.K. study released yesterday opens with the observation that media consumed on phone, laptop, and television screens, “can now occupy every waking hour of people’s lives.” This is not shocking to most, as the technological requirements of the modern world have us creating and consuming more data than ever before.

We turn to our devices to stay connected with loved ones, keep up with work, and sometimes to hedge ourselves away from boredom. The problem is that our devices let us down. The U.K. study revealed that a teenager engaging in social-networking for one to three hours a day is half as likely to report themselves as happy compared to teens who engage for less than one hour per day. (This isn’t the first study to link social media or TV to depressive behaviors.)
The problem lies not in the devices, but in what technology replaces, according to Sherry Turkle, the author of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.

When we orient our attention toward another person’s projection of themselves through texts, chatting and social media, “It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self,” Turkle says. “We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we’re at risk, because actually it’s the opposite that’s true.”

Technology offers the promise of never being alone — a world of friends and followers perpetually streams just taps away. As a result, it’s becoming almost impossible to sit alone. A University of Virginia study reveals most people would rather self-administer electric shocks than sit in silence for 6 minutes. An inability to distinguish the destructive nature of isolation from the value of solitude keeps us from experiencing the fullness of living in God’s image.
Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. Although, in daily life, we do not always distinguish these words, we should do so consistently and thus deepen our understanding of our human predicament. — Paul Tillich
The spiritual discipline of solitude will slowly fade from modern practice without intentional assessment of technology’s effects on our daily rhythms. What we hear from the Spirit in silence guides our words, shapes our posture toward the world, and informs our understanding of scripture in ways that cannot be replaced by technology.

Bible study, prayer and church attendance, among the most commonly prescribed activities in Christian circles, generally have little effect for soul transformation, as is obvious to any observer. If all the people doing them were transformed to health and righteousness by it, the world would be vastly changed. Their failure to bring about the change is precisely because the body and soul are so exhausted, fragmented and conflicted that the prescribed activities cannot be appropriately engaged, and by and large degenerate into legalistic and ineffectual rituals. Lengthy solitude and silence, including rest, can make them very powerful.

But we must choose these disciplines. God will, generally speaking, not compete for our attention. If we will not withdraw from the things that obsess and exhaust us into solitude and silence, he will usually leave us to our own devices. — Dallas Willard
Today’s Reading
1 Kings 19 (Listen – 3:53)
1 Thessalonians 2 (Listen – 2:53)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 20 (Listen – 7:03) 1 Thessalonians 3 (Listen – 1:44)
1 Kings 21 (Listen – 4:19) 1 Thessalonians 4 (Listen – 2:24)

The Weekend Reading List