Friday, November 23, 2012

Truth...Or Consequences

Truth – I own a computer…actually I own two.  One is not connected to the Internet.  I own an iPhone 4, the kind that will talk to you although I’ve never done that because the idea of that unnerves me but I do have a cute little whistle on it that alerts me to incoming emails.  I don’t have it programmed with numbers and calendars, preferring paper ones.  I own a Kindle that sits forlornly on a shelf.  It never occurs to me to Google a phone number or read an online book on my phone.   But I understand the fascination and, if my brain could wrap itself around how all this “convenient” technology works, I would be head over heels lost in it.

Most of our culture is.  And the consequences?

Please don’t misunderstand.  Our culture’s woes are caused by much more than too much Internet use.  However, because the Internet is so pervasive with rarely a conversation conducted without reference to it, and the consequences to reading, relationships and responsibilities massive, we need to be honest in our evaluations.  The truth is the Internet is changing the way our brains work.  But is it for the better?

As I wrote in the last article, studies have shown that we are losing the ability to read…to read deeply, to ponder, to concentrate, to retain.  This has eternal implications on the written word. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1.  If we lose the ability to read the Word, we lose the ability to have a relationship with the Word. 

O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Ps. 119:97.  If we lose the ability to ponder the law, how can we be reconciled to the Lawgiver?

God has chosen to communicate to us through the written Word.  He has commanded us to read, study, meditate, know His Word…HIM. 

We are more than walking computers able to spout off trivial factoids.  We are made for greater things.  Charlotte Mason stressed that the life of the mind is sustained upon ideas.   Before the days of internet, Charlotte wrote:

“A great danger is threatening the country, and even the world. We're losing our faith in ideas. We're replacing guiding principles with mechanical practices. As I've said in previous Letters to the Editor, the trend in popular education these days is to have contempt for knowledge, and for the books that contain the knowledge of mankind.”(from this article)

As a result we think shallow thoughts, have shallow conversations (when we talk at all) and live shallow lives.

What’s the answer?  Read.  Read a lot.  Read deeply from great books written by great minds.  Open the Word of God and meditate upon what He is telling you.  Turn off the screens, go outside and drink in the beauty of creation.  Think.

You will be going against the tide.  But our future depends on it. 

In concluding my series on The Shallows, I’ll end with his ending.

“Of course, in conjuring up a big anti-Net backlash, I may be indulging in a fantasy of my own.  After all, the Internet tide continues to swell.  In the months since I completed The Shallows, Facebook membership has doubled from 300 million to 600 million; the number of text messages processed every month by the typical American teen has jumped from 2,300 to 3,300; sales of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones have skyrocketed; app stores have proliferated; elementary schools have rushed to put iPads in their students’ hands and the time we spend in front of screens has continued its seemingly inexorable rise.  We may be wary of what our devices are doing to us, but we’re using them more than ever.  And yet, history tells us, it’s only against such powerful cultural currents that countercultural movements take shape.

As I said, it’s a small boat.  But there’s still plenty of room inside.  Feel free to grab an oar.”  (pg. 228)



  1. As a result we think shallow thoughts, have shallow conversations (when we talk at all) and live shallow lives.

    Love this true.

  2. Robin, I loved reading the Shallows and I especially love your commentary. This final one is perhaps, in my estimation, your best yet. Scott C.