Digital Technology: Its Use and Abuse

Cellphones/Smartphones

  These phones are amazing things, and they are becoming smarter all the time.  But as with everything, their use must be controlled within proper limits.  They can waste so much money and so much time.  Most people do not control their phones – instead their phones control them.  People are slaves to their phones. 

  You do not have to be in touch 24 hours a day!  No-one does.  It is tragic to see people joined at the palm to their phones, eyes always downcast, gazing at their little hand-held electronic handcuffs.  Is this what people have been reduced to – their lives controlled by their phones, always waiting for the next call, the next text message, so devoted to inane comments, etc., that they virtually have no real lives of their own anymore?  Watch people in the street, in shops, even in their own homes with their families around them: conversation is constantly interrupted, people are endlessly tapping away on their phones.  Much of the time people are only half-listening when someone is talking face to face with them – they always have their ears and hands attuned to that buzz from their phones.  Even with parents, children or friends in the same room with them, they still prefer to “communicate” with someone else, far away, via their phones.  What strange addiction is this, that people are more concerned with what someone has to say to them from across the city or country, than what a person in the same room may be saying to them?

  Proper conversation is a lost art today.  People are dumbed-down robots, automatons, living to see what some “friend” has tweeted or whether they have been “liked” on Facebook or who has sent them yet another “selfie”.  How utterly sad!

  Every Christian should ask: am I addicted to my mobile phone?  And if so, why?  What real value does it add to my life?   Use it, but do not abuse it.  Control it, or it will control you.

  And remember: most addicts do not even realise they are addicts!

Facebook

  Facebook has become all-pervasive – and this is certainly not a good thing.  Is it sinful to be on Facebook?  No – not in and of itself.  If Christians may use the internet (and they may), then they may make use of Facebook as well.  But there are great dangers, which every child of God who elects to use Facebook needs to be well aware of, and to guard against.

  First: as with the internet in general, the use of Facebook becomes sinful when it wastes time.  Again, remember the Scripture: “redeeming the time”.  Life on this earth is so short, and there is so much to do that really matters:

                 Only one life, ̓twill soon be past,

                 Only what’s done for Christ will last.

  Believers must carefully use their time, and not frit it away on frivolous things.  There is a time and a place for legitimate relaxation; but this must be kept within reasonable bounds.  For many, Facebook consumes their time.  It is virtually the first thing they check in the mornings, the last thing at night, and they go into it many times in the day as well – and for what?  To see who has said what, who has made some inane comment about nothing of value, who has contacted them, or who has “liked” their pictures or statements!  This is truly trivial, brethren!  How many professing Christians who spend so much time in trivial pursuits on Facebook ever read a solid doctrinal book?

  Second: it can so easily replace proper writing to friends, and even proper friendships!  When someone “likes” you on Facebook, is this real friendship?  Those same people may not even like you in person, but they “like” you on Facebook!  People who were not your friends in the past become your Facebook “friends”.  But face it: an online “friend” who was not, or is not now, your friend in the real world, is not your friend online either!  If they do not like you face to face, why do you think they “like” you on Facebook?  For many of them, becoming your fake Facebook “friend” is simply because they are nosy, and they want to poke around in your personal life and personal details and see who you are “friends” with and what you are doing.  These people are not friends!  They are the fake “friends” of Facebook, and they are not worth having.  Truly, if Facebook is what “friendship” has been reduced to, then the word has no meaning anymore. 

  As for finding long-lost friends via Facebook: yes, one may be able to track down a few in this way.  But again, think about it: the reason you were out of touch with most of those you may have now accepted as “friends” on Facebook is because they were no longer friends in real life!  So has your life really been enriched by re-establishing contact with them again?

  Facebook has also made people too lazy to write a proper email, of some real length, to a real friend; or even to call them for a proper conversation.  Once upon a time, friends wrote lengthy letters to each other.  Then came email, and friends made use of this wonderful tool to keep in touch, as they had previously done with letters.  True friends still do so, for in an email one can say so much, and moreover with the added benefit of sending and receiving almost instantly.  But when Facebook arrived on the scene, so many people simply became “one-line friends”, “conversing” (if such it can be called) in short sentences of no depth.  It has truly created a culture of shallow, “Hello, how are you”-type messages, no better than the kind of hurried exchange between two people passing in a street.  People have become so shallow, and real, deep friendships have suffered.

  Facebook can be compared to constantly being in the company of a group of people: if you only ever have conversations in a group, then by its very nature that group is only going to encourage a very shallow, flippant kind of “friendship”.  It is no substitute for real, in-depth conversation with people who are truly close to you.  And this is what Facebook “friends” are, for the most part.  It is an online “group” activity that is no substitute for closer relationships with real brethren and friends.

  Third: Facebook is so often nothing but a high-tech equivalent of the “peeping tom”.  Does this come as a shock?  Think about it.  Why does anyone care what so-and-so had for breakfast, or what they are eating in which restaurant at any given moment, or what they are wearing, or who has a relationship problem with their spouse/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?  And why would anyone even feel the need to share such facts with all their Facebook “friends”?  Has life become so shallow?  And yet Facebook is full of rubbish like this.  If this is not trivia, what is?  Such information is utterly irrelevant, it adds nothing to one’s life, it is meaningless, it is drivel, and it even verges on voyeurism at times.

  Fourth: Facebook is a massive surveillance tool for governments; a giant global spy system.  There is no doubt whatsoever about this.  In the past, Facebook has revealed personal information about millions of its users to many companies and advertisers through their apps; and according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, it had no intention of stopping this practice, but would provide users’ addresses and mobile phone numbers to third-party app developers.  As Dennis O’Reilly, longtime technology writer, stated: “Companies can combine the ‘anonymized’ information from your [Facebook] profile with personal data gleaned from tracking cookies and other online traces to create dossiers about you that offers a level of personal detail the [U.S.] National Security Agency would envy.”[3]    All this is bad enough.  But it gets worse.  It did not take long, after Facebook was created, for it to become a global spying machine.  Think about the Roman Catholic confessional: priests tell their duped followers that the confessional is private, and that what is said within its enclosed space will never be repeated by the priest to anyone.  And yet for centuries Rome’s confessional has been a worldwide, sinister information-gathering system, the greatest intelligence-gathering network on earth!  The private details of unsuspecting Roman Catholics have found their way into the Vatican via this iniquitous data-collecting system, and this information has so often been used to blackmail people.

  And this is precisely what Facebook is as well, for certain governments.  Imagine if you had a surveillance camera mounted on your living room wall, whereby a government agency was able to spy on you and whatever went on in your house 24/7.  George Orwell, as far back as 1949, wrote of just such a device eventually being created, in his book, 1984.  Well, it is here!  It is not a camera mounted on your living room wall, but it amounts to the same thing.  Facebook is a sophisticated surveillance tool in the hands of globalists.  It is destroying what little privacy is left in the lives of millions.  It has become the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, addresses, locations, and communications.  And all this information is available to government intelligence agencies.

  It would be naive in the extreme to assume that Facebook’s privacy statements are to be trusted.  Nik Cubrilovic, an Australian entrepreneur and writer, revealed that Facebook tracked and stored the internet browsing of its hundreds of millions of users even after they had logged off the Facebook site![4]  Facebook then claimed to fix the issue, but Cubrilovic wrote: “I believe Facebook when they describe what these cookies are used for, but that is not a reason to be complacent on privacy issues and to take initiative in remaining safe.”[5]  He recommended using a separate browser. 

  It would be just as naive to assume that intelligence agencies have not harnessed the massive potential value of Facebook for whatever purposes they deem fit.  It was in fact revealed by the Associated Press that the CIA had an entire center – the Open Source Center – dedicated to monitoring Facebook and Twitter.  It was established in 2005 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  The CIA claimed it was only monitoring foreign activity, but there is no reason whatsoever to trust them on this.  But even if there is no official relationship between Facebook and a government (and in the case of the U.S. government, this is a very big “If”), it would be a relatively simple matter for a government intelligence agency to pressurise Facebook officials by blackmail – and then they would cave like a sinkhole and cough up any data desired by that agency on anyone they choose.

  If you are prepared to live with this kind of surveillance or potential surveillance, you are not sinning in having a Facebook site.  Many Christians are in fact using it for evangelising.  And, for certain tasks at any rate, it has become virtually essential to using the internet itself, leaving believers with little choice but to use it in certain ways.  But every believer should be aware of the dangers, and take reasonable and sensible steps to protect himself if he chooses to make use of this medium.

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