Use Technology Considerately and Economically

Katherine, who is in her 20’s, uses a computer at work. But at home she found herself constantly surfing the Web, shopping online, and keeping up with countless e-mails. Still, her use of technology was moderate compared with that of younger colleagues. “Why do they bother me all the time with silly text messages?” she asks. “I’m a human! Why can’t they talk to me on the phone?”

THERE is irony in Katherine’s question, for the phone too is an indirect link. Still, Katherine has a point: Many gadgets that were designed to connect people may, in fact, put emotional distance between them. To help you find a good balance in your use of technology, consider the following Bible principles.

“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) When we apply those words of Jesus Christ to our use of cell phones and computers, we treat others with respect and show good manners. “My husband and I were at a restaurant,” says a woman named Anne. “Two men were having a meal together at an adjacent table. One of them, though, spent the entire time on his cell phone, talking and eating. We felt sorry for his companion, who ate ‘alone.’” How would you feel if you were that companion? Hurt? Offended? Yes, the fact that we may be able to use a cell phone almost anywhere and at any time does not mean we should. Jesus’ words ought to be our guiding principle.

“Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) Time is a precious gift from God and should not be squandered. Granted, technology can save time. The Internet, for example, can speed up research, banking, and shopping. But it can also steal time if we spend hours aimlessly surfing the Web.

 Another potential time waster is multitasking​—working on a computer while watching TV and talking on the phone, or toggling between, say, e-mail and other programs. Why can multitasking be counterproductive?

“It’s almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you’re multitasking,” states neuroscientist Dr. Jordan Grafman. We simply cannot focus on a number of things at the same time; something has to suffer. Hence, multitasking can result in superficiality and poor retention. Also, the rapid-fire switching of attention causes people to make more mistakes and take “far longer​—often double the time or more—​to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially,” says a report in Time magazine. So think twice before multitasking; your day may not be long enough!

“Guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) Material possessions, no matter how costly or fancy, cannot give us life or true happiness. Only God can. “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need,” said Jesus. (Matthew 5:3) The commercial world, on the other hand, equates happiness with material things. ‘Buy, buy, buy,’ it says. ‘You must have the latest.’ Do not be deceived. Instead, be wise. Analyze your motives and needs before parting with your hard-earned money. Remember, too, that many high-tech products rapidly depreciate in value. So if you do need a certain gadget, ask yourself: ‘Must I have the very latest? And do I need one with all the costly extras, which I may never use?’

A Blessing or a Curse​—Your Choice

Katherine, mentioned earlier, was alarmed when her home computer failed. “At first I was in shock,” she says, “but I decided to postpone replacing it. After a month, my nerves were more relaxed, and I read more. I use a computer at work, so I can still keep in touch with my friends outside of work hours. But I no longer feel driven to be constantly connected. Technology no longer rules my life.”

To be sure, many products of science and technology are practical and can save us much time and energy. So by all means use them if you need to, but do so responsibly and considerately. How? Put people before technology. Avoid squandering precious time and money on gadgets or software that you do not need. Do not use the Internet and other media to watch moral filth and violence. And do not become a technology “addict.” In short, be wise​—apply the divinely inspired, time-tested principles found in God’s written Word, the Holy Bible. Yes, “Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.”​—Proverbs 2:6.

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CELL PHONES, COMPUTERS, AND GOOD MANNERS

How can you use your cell phone and computer considerately? Consider the following suggestions.

▪ Avoid taking or making a phone call when or where you may disturb others. Turn your phone off if necessary.

▪ Do not let your phone disrupt important face-to-face conversations unless absolutely necessary.

▪ When you are talking on the phone, give the person you are speaking to your full attention.

▪ Do not take someone’s picture with your cell phone if this may be impolite or embarrassing to the individual.

▪ Resist the temptation to forward every “interesting” e-mail you receive. The recipients may not appreciate it.