MUENSTER, Sask. — People are fascinated by technology and find the newest gadgets very alluring, Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, said Nov. 24 to some 35 people attending a noon luncheon sponsored by St. Peter’s College Campus Ministry. It is assumed that technology will increase the standard of living and bring more leisure and recreation, said the bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon. Computers and mobile phones have revolutionized communication and the marketplace, but “what is all this technology turning us into?” he asked in his presentation entitled “The Idolatry of Technology.”
“Personal access to information is unlimited and it is putting tremendous pressure on you,” he said. It is expected that an email should be answered just after it’s been sent, and the people on the receiving end feel pressure to send an immediate reply. Instant communication is time-saving, and that’s important when time is considered valuable. The downside to this efficiency is the pressure to be more efficient and accomplish more by filling in saved time with more and more work.
“The problem is, we have been blind-sided by this would-be ally called technology. It promises to be a friend, an aid, an assistant, to help us. It can be a friend, but at the same time it can take over if we are not vigilant.”
Good questions to ask when opening a computer or an iPhone are, “What is your motive? Are you looking for quality, speed, affordability? Do these things bring more leisure? What is the goal, to have more leisure? What is your reason for living? Who is your God?
“How many times have you returned from a vacation and needed to recuperate? After travel and technology, you need time to catch a breath,” Bayda remarked.
The story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) who were tempted by the serpent speaks to the lure of technology. The serpent told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would become like a god, having knowledge of good and evil.
There is a strong attraction to the many promises of new technology. Innovation has opened people to many new things and changed the way people see things and interact with each other. You should ask yourself, “How is technology changing you? What are you becoming? Are you becoming more Christian, more like Christ? Jesus told his followers to love and forgive. He did not tell them their lives are about efficiency and productivity.
“Think about it critically. Why do I use the technology that I use? How do I use it to serve Christ, my neighbour, as opposed to being like a dog on a leash and being dragged along?” he asked.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5) give insight into how Christians should live. They speak of the blessedness in being meek and merciful, hungering and thirsting for righteousness and peace, being a peacemaker, having a clean heart. Technology can be used to be of service to others.
“When it is blowing and snowing and raining and storming, you come into the house feeling calm. Our minds and hearts do that when we step away from technology. Ask yourself, ‘Who is in the driver’s seat? And what expectations have I placed on myself?’ ”
Fasting from technology will bring the realization of how independent we are, Bayda added.
Citing a personal example of fasting, Bayda said he once enjoyed eating a meal in front of the television until he decided to fast from TV. It took several months to get used to not having a TV in his home. Now he listens to the news on the radio and hears it differently. He now asks God who he should pray for every time he turns on the radio. He has been drawn closer to those who are suffering.