A Review of Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age
No area of life is neutral. Every aspect of daily living should be approached with a desire to glorify God. Schultze has penned this volume with a desire to help Christians use technology in a manner that is sanctifying and virtuous.
In these chapters the author, who is professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College, addresses basic issues of life that can be passionately, yet futilely, pursued through technological paths. He reminds readers that the wealth of knowledge available on the Web can trap us into thinking that we are our own gods. We forget that knowledge in and of itself is ultimately meaningless unless it is used wisely and undergirded by the fear of God. Knowledge discovered on the Web may be false or unsubstantiated yet treated as truth simply because it is in cyberspace.
The author explains how an over-usage of technology easily promotes individualism and breaks down community. The Internet can become “me-centered” as we visit the sites in which we want to be immersed and as we fire off emails expressing our views that the world, we believe, needs to hear. Statistics are interspersed in the text stating that much work time is lost due to employees emailing, downloading material for personal use, or visiting pornographic websites. This “meology” supplants scriptural teaching on the importance of family, neighbor, and face-to-face communication.
Schultze explains how individuals can isolate themselves from family responsibilities by spending too much time on computers. They can destroy family relationships by replacing them with the silence of an ever-active computer screen or friendships in some online chat room.
We must all wrestle with pride and impatience. Schultze argues that the high-tech heart is prone to promote such sins. The individual desires the latest in technology, whether or not he needs it. He must always be on the cutting edge and the pacesetter for those around him. Going into deeper debt and scaling the heights of pride as a result are immaterial to these individuals. The continued desire for faster Internet service can lead to greater impatience with God and man in other areas of life. It becomes increasingly hard to wait on God, to appreciate times of inactivity, to patiently face the stress of ongoing trials, or to endure the grind of daily life in a fallen world.
This book shows how the truthfulness of one's identity is often lost in cyberspace. An individual can create his own character, personality, or lifestyle. The Internet world opens itself up to promotion of falsehood that is aided by a lack of accountability. Truth and accountability are, of course, more verifiable in a community of people where there is oral communication and face-to-face contact.
I have tried to touch on a number of relevant subjects that Schultze discusses within his book. I must hasten to add that Schultze is not opposed to technology. He attempts, and I believe he does so successfully, to show pitfalls of technology in its use by sinners in a fallen world. Christians can unexpectedly fall into these pits to their own harm and to the detriment of the gospel witness.
The author concludes his book with practical ways by which virtue can be promoted in a high-tech world.
One does not have to be heavily into computers to profit from this work. We each have wide access to technology, whether it be television, audio, video, etc. Misusing these mediums can just as easily promote individualism, pride, selfishness, and a loss of covenantal relationships as can overindulgence in cyberspace. This volume provides much on which to reflect in terms of using God's gifts to us. I wish there had been more Scripture passages mentioned in the book so that readers could be reminded of God's instruction on the various areas covered in these pages, such as His teachings on the importance of speech, patience, and other virtues.
The volume is well written. It should be read with much contemplation and its thesis taken to heart by each of us.