Can Technology Fulfill Us?
At a recent FaithTech gathering, a young man met Jesus.
Sounds like quite the gathering, doesn’t it! He listened to a speaker describe how he had everything — the house, the car, the things — and yet he was miserable. He hated himself and the world.
So he went on a quest to find himself.
He tried every religion, every form of self-help. He didn’t find himself. He found Jesus instead! He found that true fulfillment doesn’t come from filling ourselves. True fulfillment comes from being filled by the One who can truly satisfy.
This young man, too, had “everything.” But he recognized just how empty he felt. There was a void. He realized that he couldn’t fill it with possessions, with another binge-watching marathon on Netflix or by scrolling through Facebook. He could only fill it by turning to God.
This man did more than throw off his backpack and jacket. He threw off the chains that were holding him down — and holding him back from a true relationship with Christ.
My challenge to you: throw off your own backpack and jacket.
A False Sense of Fulfillment
Let’s talk about monkeys.
Check this out: in an experiment, two monkeys are in adjacent cages and a researcher is outside. When they hand the researcher a stone, the monkeys get a reward. The first one is successful and enjoys his prize, a slice of cucumber.
The second monkey also completes the task and gets a grape. The difference between a cucumber and grape might not seem like much to us. But to monkeys, getting a grape is like getting an iphone instead of a flip phone the first monkey got. Much better, right?
So, the researcher tests them again. The first monkey nails the task, gets a cucumber. The second monkey also succeeds — and gets a grape.
What gives! By round three, the first monkey is enraged when he gets another cucumber. He starts shaking the cage. He’s making noise. He’s throwing the cukes at the researcher. That’s one upset primate.
Monkeys and Tech?
The first monkey was happy with what he had — until he compared it to what the second monkey had.
You see where I’m going with this. Instead of fulfilling us, technology often sows seeds of comparison. And we come up wanting. We doubt ourselves and our worth.
Think about your cell phone. It’s good, right? You can make calls, send texts, browse, take and play video. You’re happy. Until you see someone with a newer, shinier, trendier model. Then you look at your old cucumber and start shaking the cage.
We overlook the fact that the phone, the laptop, the car — the life — is good because we want something better. We want something more.
I took a three-year Facebook break. Five minutes after I logged back in, I felt envious. I felt like I was lacking. As I looked through posts, everyone had grapes, and I had cucumbers. I wasn’t good enough.
That’s insane! My life was no different than it was minutes before — and I was pretty happy with it! — but I suddenly felt completely unfulfilled.
“Vacant and Empty”
Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s VP of user growth from 2007–2011, doesn’t allow his children to use the platform to which he led millions. Why?
We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short term signals — Hearts and Likes and Thumbs-Up. We conflate that with value and we conflate that with truth, and instead what it really is is fake brittle popularity that’s short-term, and leaves you even more vacant and empty.
It’s not just Facebook. It’s not just Instagram. It’s not just Twitter and Snapchat and Pinterest. Eighty-eight percent of people worldwide want to watch more than one episode of their favorite shows in a single session, and many can plow through an entire season in a weekend.
But what happens when it ends? One survey found that more than half of people said they felt lonely, anxious, and/or depressed. The fulfillment they were chasing slipped away like a villain in cliffhanger cop show they just finished.
Think About — and Use — Tech Differently
So what do we do? Go off all tech forever? Leave Facebook? Stop using our phones? Cut it off?
Maybe. Maybe this is your Rich Young Ruler moment (Read Mark 10:17–27). That moment in your life when you come to realize what really matters and drop everything to follow Jesus. If so, start now.
For others, this is your moment to ask yourself, “What do I seek first? Where do I get my fulfillment?”
Matthew 6:25, 33 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Isn’t life about more than technology? Than racing to keep up? Than feeling less than when someone has a grape and you have a perfectly good cucumber? Than feeling that the latest phone or a bunch of likes on your next post will make you complete? Than feeling empty when it doesn’t?
Fulfillment doesn’t come from technology. It comes from knowing our Saviour.
Originally published at faithtech.com.