I’m known for my occasional Luddite lapses, but still we should challenge some of the technophobic declarations of our some of our scholars.
My wife has just had a seamless face-to-face conversation with her mother, 1600 miles away, both via a flawless video image on a pair of mobile phones, one out about in the streets of Istanbul…
What untold reward awaits the software and hardware developers that facilitate the coming together of families separated by seas and continents, who make these conversations possible?
All things can be used for good and bad, be it the marketplace, the cafe, the school, the book, the knife, the car…
The internet, television, smartphones and Facebook are no different.
We just need to remember that ethics and manners apply to this sphere as much as any other. That should be the concern of our scholars: how to we navigate these new avenues of communication. Not encouraging us to abandon them altogether.
Truthfulness is an issue on the web because it is an issue in general. Verifying information is an issue for the same reason, albeit amplified by immediacy and reach.
For all the claims that something awful is happening, it could be said that something beautiful is happening. Perhaps access to more information than ever before and exposure to new ideas might be good for us.
Perhaps the perpetual challenge of ideas we are subjected to might help us see a clearer forward path, that would have been impossible in our cloistered life of old, when gate keepers defined for us what is orthodoxy and what is heresy, regardless of truth or godliness.
Technology challenges us, without a doubt: it forces us to ask new questions, to negotiate the unknown, to be ever more vigilant to the pitfalls and obstacles brought ever closer to us.
But we have been placed in this time and place for a reason: in this world where national borders or vast oceans, or treks across sand dunes, rivers, valleys, mountains and ravines, risking the assault of bandits or pirates, no longer need keep loved ones apart. Blessings, if only we would allow ourselves to see it.
Make time for meditation, yes: for quiet and peace and a time for contemplation. Disconnect when you have to. Apply ethics liberally to these new gateways, check your intentions and habits and manners. Yes, all of this is important.
But be open to this world; embrace it. Be grateful, count your blessings. Make a prayer for the software developers that facilitate family time, even if thousands of miles separate you. Be in awe, and amazement, and thankfulness. Make good use of the blessings bestowed on you. We are living in an amazing time: we just have to try extra hard to see it.