Alone in a room, a cell phone on the desk, and a computer open on the person's lap. This person is talking to four different social networks, living a life as an avatar, and is slowly feeling depressed about their life. But the question is why? In the book Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, she explains why people today are feeling more isolated than ever before. Technology today has made it possible to connect to more people than ever before. Turkle has researched the advancements of all technology and has found a trend that is slowly effecting how humans interact. She starts her book introducing the reader to different robots that have been created. The kids start interacting with the simple machines as toys. These toys are nurtured and become "loved" by the kids and the children believe that this thing "loves" them back. Over time these toys progress into more complex machines that are programed to react to the individual interacting with it. This makes it seem more lifelike. Without realizing it people have slowly let machines creep into their life and take the place of other humans. Machines such as Paro, the "baby seal" are programmed to recognize people's feeling and make them feel better. These more efficient "animals" have replaced the responsibility of children to take care of their aging parents. This is an obvious example but through the book the author illustrates that technology such as cell phones, laptops, and internet are also shifting into the places of human interaction. Instead of calling, people are sending electronic messages. Parents pick up their kids at school and text until they drop them off at a friend's house. The entire concept of bringing work home has been replaced by being able to transport work into every area of life. By humans wanting to be the best, they give up their vulnerabilities to efficiency and are slowly leaving humanity behind.
By bring technology into every aspect of life humans are not only replacing their need for human interaction they are replacing their need to feel guilt and responsibility. If a person expresses them self through confession sites, they share their feeling but then feel no remorse. Creating an avatar or profile to display a person's life in a better light relieves the stress of actually accomplishing anything. Why would a person need the physical satisfaction of reaching a goal when they can virtual stimulate their brain to believe that they have already achieved that goal on the internet? When humans ultimately decide that they can accomplish anything they want either virtually or physically, God is no longer need. As humans we make mistakes and need forgiveness. Friends and families will not always be there, they have their own problems. This is where God is supposed to come in; instead people have created machines that are always at beck and call. Robots don't complain, "they" don't need more attention than humans want to give" them", and "they" don't judge. With the knowledge that humans are not enough, people have made their own solution and are creating "beings" that can be nurtured and thought to be part of life.
My relationship with the Lord has resulted in more love than I can ever completely understand. The word love is thrown around without any real meaning by people today. I love my pets, parents, sports, and God; but I don't have the same love for any one thing. Any love that is not for God is a dim comparison to anything else I use the word for. I am able to love God because He first loved me and will always love me. The other things I pour my emotions into don't result in that kind of result. My family loves me but they are human and are not always available to offer me the unconditional love that I want or that I want to give to them. Sports like soccer and track that I dedicate my time to come back to me through results and accomplishments, any emotion involved is one that I create myself. When looking at it from the outside I am supplementing my need for love by God, but I'm not perfected and also look for it elsewhere. This is one way that I have been led astray by technology. When I feel the need for connection I lean on talking with "friends" on the internet or texting to find human companions. The world is about to take a plunge of a cliff and just solely depend on technology. These robots and pieces of machinery will fool my brain into thinking its loves by reacting to the actions that robots have been programmed to output. It will be like food without nutrients and taste. Instead of expanding my emotions, they may slowly dwindle to nothing. Why would I need emotion to be efficient? Machines don't need emotion to perform their jobs and they do it "better" than humans. I for one don't want to perform better. I want to feel and understand what I am doing and know that I have formed the emotions that I experience, not programed to express them.
November 16, 2011, at 11:45 am, a seminar started called Social Media : The rise of Strategic Authenticity and Transparency. Computers and cameras were on, and people were connectedby this event for the next forty five minutes. The speaker was a faculty member at Concordia University and worked with the technology on campus. He has a Facebook and Twitter account that he regularly uses for both his personal use and job. It is here that he explains two of the ways that internet effects a person. Businesses see social networking as an easy way to find what a person wants and then manipulate their advertising and marketing to match this individual. Social networking has transformed the world of businesses from a closed off sector full of secrets to an open website were people tell the businesses what they want. What people forget to calculate is how much is being given up by posting needs, interests, and wants on the internet. A person makes a Facebook page, recruiting page, Twitter account but is careful to never put all their private information on these pages. But overtime they collect friends who add information, they add interests and are tagged at locations. Before a person knows it their entire life can be googled. When asked what is wrong with that, the speaker addresses how the privacy of personal life has now become connected to a person's business life. Business now can predict what people like and even in some circumstances tell them what they will like. The other side of this discussion is when a person applies for a job; an interview can no longer be the way a company gets to know their applicants. A person's past is now public and a company needs to protect its image from being in contact with a person who shares their unwise decisions with the world.
In a connected world information is available to those who go looking for it. As Christians we are called to be the salt and light of the world, to be in the world but not of it. As the world grows more dependent on technology, should Christians make the jump with the world? Technology is slowly changing the way people think and act. Information is always at a person's finger tips, some of it good and some of it bad. People who don't want God to be the answer are now given so many more distractions to turn to instead of God. So Christians should be ready to fight for God more than ever before. When God presents an opportunity to share His world, they should not shy away. God is all powerful and will outlast anything of this world. But as His vessels on this earth, Christians should not shy away from the things of the world and hide in churches and small groups. They should step into technology and lean on God for guidance so they themselves are not distracted. It is important to be connected, but first Christians need to be connected to God, then the people of the world.
In the presentation the speaker said that social network now shows more of who we are then just what we decided to show people in person. He also went on to talk about how once something has been posted to the web it is no longer in our control. In a way the people around me are posting their thoughts and emotions to Facebook because they have nowhere else to put them. It's like face to face communication isn't good enough for people to share their feelings anymore. We don't want people to have to sit and listen to all our troubles and most of the time people don't want to be the person sitting there listening. So the selfish world has adapted so that we can feel like we are having people understand us and care when they "like" a status or comment. As a Christian I can lean on my church and God to hear my thoughts and prayers, and they can actually do something about it. The social network may make me feel more connected because I have " friends" on Facebook, but very few times can I get all those people to meet in the same place or sit down and have a real conversation. What people need to realize is that yes, technology has good uses, but we as humans, are not made to be connected through the computers at our finger tips but more by the hearts and minds of the people around us.
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr examines the effects of technology on the human brain. It is written by an author that is having problems concentrating and sensing subtle differences in his writing. He goes into a full study of technology and how over time it can reprogram the brains neuropath ways. The author explains that since technology was first invented in forms such as the clock and the map the human has adapted its rituals to center around the workings of these inventions. From there people have been creating different techniques to absorb more information. This has been the push behind better technology and people organizing their lives around different gadgets. The author goes on to the different types of gadgets and how they are affecting people's habits. The writer believes that overexposure to internet surfing and time on the computer reroutes the brains pathways to make long term concentration harder and almost impossible. The amount of information and the rapid pace at which the internet presents it causes the brain to adapt to operate more efficiently. By the brain adapting to the internet it is succumbing to another form of technology and changing the ways humans form thoughts. Overtime different writing styles have developed to make it easier for a person to read alone and get a deeper meaning from the words. By separating the words and moving them from scrolls to books, the input of information has slowly becoming more efficient. Better efficiency means the brain can absorb more at a faster rate. The rate has increased so much that with the internet, texting, and smart phones people are one the verge of a revolution.
Technology is the way of people trying to create and supplement their lives. The creation of phones, computers, and calculators are to help people maximize their time and create more time to dive deeper into individual studies. But what researchers have failed to realize is that by being more efficient they have created too much information for the brain to process. Instead of learning more details humans are adapting to learn as little as possible and are more skimming the surface of the information of the world. The human is now so busy that they are distracting themselves from any guilt but more focused on pleasure and what they want. Humans are connected to everything around them and know more people than ever before. The result of this is shallow relationships that are not as satisfying as talking one on one and a brain that is slowly changing to encourage less memory and more skipping along the surface. With less information in the brain it is harder to draw conclusions and create goals for the future. In one way the human race is just adapting again to the environment, but they are no longer putting God in the center of their life. Humans are so distracted with what is going on in this world we are changing so that we function better here on earth rather than preparing to glorify God in heaven.
When I get overloaded in life with sports, academics, and living my life I look back and realize that I have made no time for God. Keeping myself busy and striving for my goals take up all my time and I leave time for no one else. I have a social life with people who are just as busy either progressing towards their goals or just enjoying life. If I keep up with this pace for a long period of time I become irritated with people who interfere with my schedule or emotionally unstable because of the pressure I am putting on myself. This is because I have slowly drifted away from the reason that God created me. I am not on this earth for me but for Him. I may pursue happiness on this earth but without Him I will never experience pure joy. I may accomplish all my goals and get to experience the greatest pleasures of the world, but they will never compare to what God can give me. In the end, I have to stop and give time to the Lord. I have to put down the things of the world and dedicate some time for the Lord. Like no other thing, person, or event on this earth, He will not let me down or leave me unsatisfied if I am centered on what He wants for me not what I want for myself.
Dr. Leslie is a retired Christian physician who works on the Board of Regents at Concordia University. He took the time out of his day to sit down and instruct Concordia's Honors students on wellness/illness, aging, and death. Although these seem like depressing topics the doctor presented them as being part of life and offered ideal ways for people to handle these topics when they come into their lives. He started out asking for an explanation of wellness using the question, "Hi, how are you?" as a way to try and delve deeper person's well being. Using other key words such as "nutrition", "activity", and "attractiveness" the doctor made the point that well being was mostly a person's perception of themselves not so much the view the world had of them. This helped present his way of dealing with the issues talked about before; with encouragement, hope, and respect any situation can be made better. With a poem called Myocarditis the discussion moved on to illness. There are diseases of the mind, body, and combinations of both. There are also chronic diseases that test a person's ability to function in life the way they have before and may cause significant changes on their view of life. But again the doctor stressed that respect of the person, encouragement from the friends and family, and hope for the future were the best ways to deal with the situation. One disease that has yet to be cured is aging. The body starts to wither away and the mind loses bit and pieces over the years. A random fact that the doctor let everyone know is the brain starts to disband at the age of 16; people start aging before they have even lived. People try to prolong their physical appearance and brain function as long as possible. The doctor described how he makes himself walk and do crossword puzzles to maintain and prolong the functioning of his body and brain. Ultimately aging leads to death in the physical world. The body stops pumping blood, the organs stop functioning and a person's time in this world has ends. The doctor uses a second poem to describe death. It talked about the silence associated with it and how that person has decided that it is their time to take their rest. To end the discussion the doctor shared to how he sees death at his age with, "I am having fun, I don't want to leave, but I am not scared of death."
The body of Christ is made up of the brothers and sisters in Christ. The Christian age is not in years but is measured by the maturity of the relationship with the Lord. The more time that is spent in the world of God the older a Christian can get. It is not a normal aging process where over time there is a gradual disintegration of the body and mind. The opposite happens, over different intervals of time the body gets stronger and the connection of the brain to the Father gets stronger. The person has to have a relationship with the Lord and take the steps towards growing to become a mature Christian. A new Christian could be a new born babe in the body of Christ all their life and never age. On the other hand a person could mature years of work in circumstance because of how God works in their life. There is always a fight against the one disease, sin. It can be in many forms like illnesses in the physical world, these are called temptations. Without the right preventative actions, sin can take over your Christian body and cripple it or even kill it. To be treated one has to go to the Physician, who will heal anyone, all they need to do is ask. Death is also different when viewed by a Christian. Death could reference the end of sin in life and the beginning of the eternal relationship with Christ. It could also symbolize the end of our physical relationship with God and the move to a more personal and spiritual relationship.
One of the main points that Dr. Leslie brought up when talking about wellness was self-perception. As an athlete there is constant stress to be in top shape and have a good mental image of yourself. But is that healthy for every aspect of life? My personal experience as a Christian has been finding a balance between treating my body as the temple that holds God and what I want to do with it. From a visual appearance, the body is the first thing that people see. Before I open my mouth people have already made a judgment. They have decided if I look healthy or if I look tired or stressed. From there, they listen to the words that come out of my mouth with a bias mind. So if I am to glorify God I first have to present a vessel that will not lead people astray but bring them closer to what God wants us to be. With this in mind I have to allow God to work in my mind and soul so that when I do open my mouth I will speak the words that He wants people to hear. With God as a focus, wellness is an achievable goal.