Like most technological advances, what started out at the level of “kind of neat” can easily get out of hand: “Selfie Addiction” is now an actual thing. After a British teen attempted suicide because he couldn’t get “a perfect selfie,” some are calling it a serious mental health issue. Really? Well, not exactly.
More accurately, any obsession — especially an obsession with one’s own reputation or image — demonstrates a problem, a disorder in our thinking. While computer chips can’t create thoughts, let’s start by looking at what technology can and does do.
Technology Reveals the Timeless Human Condition
While technology in general and social networking site use in particular is creating new outlets for us to show our true character and deep desires, those aspects of our being are no secret to the God Who made us (Psalm 139:13). We all desire to know and be known, and that desire is not bad; it is part of our being created in God’s image, for intimacy, for communion.
We were designed to love and to ache to feel loved. David, the man “after God’s own heart” expresses throughout the Psalms his desire for God to see him, hear him, remember him, and respond to him. Such aching is not new and is not sinful, in itself.
Technology Provides Added Hurdles for Faith
In our instant-gratification culture, the idea of waiting to hear the “well done” from God may take extra effort and discipline of our hearts, but by God’s grace, it is possible to patiently and faithfully wait on Him. The Israelites didn’t have the benefit of even stone tablets recounting God’s provision for past generations, let alone God’s miraculous incarnation and life as a human being; God says we are blessed more than they (John 20:29). Still, our hearts demand to see instant results that we don’t always get from honoring God.
We have to learn to rely on something other than what we see (2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:1). We trust God to reward good and punish evil, but there is a time lapse between sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). We can be thankful that God’s Word is literally at our fingertips, and He is even more available to us than friends with unlimited texting plans.
Technology Helps Us See Stuff We Might Not Otherwise Know
Just like it’s hard to realize the sinfulness of our own hearts, it can be painful to see our teens’ online tendencies, and the self-centered condition of their hearts. But we can thank God for this outlet that allows us to so clearly see their hearts.
When we recognize that our teens feel like they need something other than God, we can address it with them. Even while we seek to grow in love and understanding with our teens, we need to point them away from themselves and toward God and others (Luke 10:27, Philippians 2:3).
Continue reading with Part 2.