iPhone 4, Technology, and Relationships

Categories Theology, Uncategorized

I’ve always been fascinated with gadgets, but I am a fan of very few products or companies. However, after working with/on computers for a few years I was really impressed when I experienced the OSX Mac. Since I knew Windows well I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do when when a Mac broke. Therefore I waited until they came out with Macs using the Intel Chipset so I could put Windows on it if I needed. But, I was so impressed with how much better it operated that it drives me crazy to use a PC with all it’s freezing and crashing. If there were to be an operating system problem I still wouldn’t know what to do, but after several years with this machine I haven’t had to. So, I’ll admit, I am a fan of Apple.

At the same time, I’m aware that Apple is not perfect, it is a company, it’s out to make money. They tend to leave a few bugs in their first generation so that they can improve it for the next (like the recessed headphone jack on the 1st gen iPhones). This (along with money) is why I don’t plan to get a 1st gen iPad. I figure I’ll let them work out the bugs and we can get a 2nd generation or something. I’m still disappointed about the downgraded iMovie I was stuck with last time I upgraded iLife. But, faults aside, they do make darn good machines and I’m a fan. I love my 1st gen iPhone (even with the depressed headphone jack), I can have my iPod and phone all in one device, there’s a full keyboard, and the calendar is fantastic and syncs with the one I use on my Mac.

I am really excited about the new iPhone 4. An led flash for the new 5 megapixel camera, taking HD video (and being able to edit it on the phone), the new display, and especially “facetalk” where you can actually do Jetson’s or Skype type video phone calls from a mobile phone – finally, unbelievable. I think this is going to be an amazing device. I would love to get one, and anyone reading is more than welcome to purchase one for me.

Being a techie, I love technology, but I also realize that often our discoveries technologically tend to progress faster than our discoveries ethically. I love the idea of being able to video call with the family if I’m away somewhere, or be able to see what friends are seeing as they are on a trip. At the same time I’m slightly disturbed by what this could mean. I watched their ad and saw a father watching his child crawl, grandparents watching a grandchild graduate, a father watch an ultrasound, and I couldn’t help but think, why are they having to use a video phone? Why aren’t they there, why aren’t they present?

The answer, because they don’t have to be. They have a video phone and now they can give their presence to the things that are really important to them while not being completely absent from the relationships that matter most. I know that’s a little harsh, it’s really just to make this point, does technology actually expose our priorities? I understand there are times when we can’t be somewhere and having this technology would be great. I have a cousin who had a birthday party the weekend before last and I couldn’t make it. It would have been great to be on the other end of a video phone and be passed around to everybody and quickly catch up. But, the only way I would not have been there for my kids ultrasounds would have been if I didn’t have a pulse.

Most of what we communicate does not come through our words, rather it’s how we say it. The medium we use is the message. An extreme example: Have a nice day written on a card communicates one thing, having it written on the side of a bomb communicates something completely different. Calling someone on their wedding day let’s them know your thinking about them. Driving five hours to be at the wedding, tell them congratulations, and give them a hug communicates something similar only in a more powerful way.

Technology has the ability to help us keep in touch with people. This is why I enjoy facebook, blogs, and twitter. But, they can only do so much. As Dr. Barnhardt says, they are great for maintaining relationships, keeping in touch, but they have a hard time actually strengthening or deepening relationships. And, if you’re spending twenty minutes checking the status of hundreds of friends, that’s twenty minutes that you’re not spending with the people that are actually there, present with you in that moment.

So, don’t get me wrong. I think the new iPhone is going to be awesome. I would love to get one. I love the part of the ad where one guy talks about his kids going off to college and him being able to not only hear their voice but look at their eyes and make sure they’re ok. I’m a fan of technology and love that it can do wonderful things.

At the same time there is also the possibility that instead of us running the technology the technology will run us. There is the possibility that we will be connected to so many people that we won’t truly be connected to anyone.

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