A few nights ago, my son asked me if he could watch television.  I agreed.  Josh wanted to watch “One of his shows” (his code word for Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney).  I agreed and said I would check to see what was currently on.  He pressed further . . . “I want to watch “Wow Wow Wubbzy.”  Now, for those of you who do not have a toddler in the house, “Wow Wow Wubbzy” is an animated show about the adventures of three non-descript animals.  The animation on this show looks like pencil drawings and the plot-lines are overly simple . . . but Josh loves it.  I imagine that the feeling I got when Josh wanted to watch Wubbzy was the same one my Dad must have gotten when I wanted to watch Sid and Marty Krofft’s painfully bad “Land of the Lost” some 33 years ago — what goes around comes around!

As I scrolled through Josh’s channels, however, I breathed a sigh of relief — Wubbzy was not on.  “Wow wow,” I thought.  “That was a close call.”  However, as I began to see what else was on, Josh piped up, “It’s on the machine.”  “The machine” that Josh was referring to was the DVR machine in our living room.  Josh was right, we had about 10 episodes of Wubbzy recorded and ready for instant playback.  It was at this moment, for the first time, I loathed the DVR.

Now, I did not loathe the DVR for the reasons you might expect.  I was not upset that we were going to be able to watch another episode of Wubbzy.  Truthfully, most of the programming on these channels is not really “One of my shows,” so there was not a single program I was hoping was on as I scanned the children’s section.  My disdain for the DVR came in realizing that my son was going to grow up in a world that would be increasingly tailored to him . . . and it made me sad.

Today, we live in the “me” generation.  We have iPods, iPads, and iPhones.  It is not an accident that these all begin with the letter “i”.  They are all devices designed to make us ever more independent from each other:

Don’t want to listen to the family’s music? Put on your headphones.

Don’t want to share a telephone line?  Get a cell phone.

Don’t want to watch what the rest of the family is watching?  Stream something else online at one of the four other screens in the house.

Though I had seen all these devices as potentially isolating, I had never viewed the DVR in this light.  However, as Josh asked for Wubbzy, and I could deliver it, I realized that no longer would America all be watching Seinfeld at 8 PM on Thursdays or the news at 5:30 on the network of your choice.  Our world is far more personalized now.  We watch things when we want to, where we want to.  While there are certainly benefits from this, it also is another reminder of our forever quest to liberate ourselves from others.  As humans, of course we want to liberate ourselves from others . . . the very fabric of our sin nature longs to wander off to follow our own way.  Technology is just now making it possible for us to be selfish faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Now, I love technology.  I have many of the devices I previously mentioned and use technology all the time.  There are many good things about it, however, I think I (and probably many of us) need to stop sometimes and think about how the technology we use can simply fuel our selfishness.  While it is nice to watch only “one of our shows,” there is something nice about the world not always being about us as we “watch” and participate in the live reality of the rest of our world.

Stop for a moment today and reflect on the technology you use.  In what ways is it unintentionally isolating you from others?  Try to find ways to limit your technological consumption to create the space to connect with those you love and who God wants to love through you.

6 thoughts on “Wow Wow on the DVR

  1. My husband calls me a TV hater, for this reason, we do not have cable (and no DVR). However, we are one of few in this position. Our three-year-old will need to go to the bathroom and ask us to pause the cartoon (or sometimes commercial) as he walks slowly backwards. “Our TV doesn’t pause,” we tell him. It is in those moments I become more convinced we do not need cable; hopefully it will enable us to have an area that doesn’t cater to the sin nature that is already so prominent. Great thoughts, great post.

  2. I’ve been listening to some of John Piper’s messages (one my iPOD :-)). There is a recurrent theme in his messages that God didn’t create the universe for us, but to bring glory to Himself! So, our need to turn away from the philosophy that “I am the ultimate center” extends in our thinking all the way to God. Your points were well taken! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  3. Good post. Like it. Want to apply the cold turkey route but my palms sweat when I think about it.

    I do agree that the application of the “it’s about me” extends to all kinds of aspects of our lives. Essentially a lot of times when we are mad or upset about something it’s because, “that didn’t go the way I wanted it.” It seems like the the sin nature is deeply rooted in convincing us that life is about me.

    And what’s crazy is this whole thought process makes its way into our religious context. Think about how we describe the cross. Christ died for me, Christ came for me. And therefore the cross is about me. But ultimately the cross is not about me it’s about God. It’s about Christ putting a big spotlight on a God who is unlike any other God in all of creation or time.

    Are we redeemed, cleansed, forgiven, made new, restored, and connected to God through the cross – yes! But the cross is not the story of Jeremy Horton. When we get to heaven, I doubt people will look around and see Christ and say, “hey – that’s Christ – he is the one that redeemed Jeremy Horton.” Nope. They will say here is the one that has stepped out of heaven into time and space to do what no one else could do.

    My point being is we are immersed in a pro-me culture and scripture is pretty blatantly clear that we are to be and anit-me type of person. It’s hard.

    Anyways…just some random thoughts from “me.”

  4. Both Jeremy and Bill’s thoughts closely parallel my own. It’s extremely easy to become self-centered and socially isolated with the availability of so many insulating technologies. For all that Jaimie and I have a big TV and our own computers, we (1) don’t watch television [the easy one because neither of us cares to] and (2) make a point to actually spend real time together rather than only sitting in front of our respective computers. I’ll admit: I am definitely the one who is happy sitting next to each other doing our own thing for hours on end.

    Thankfully, while temptations may be multiplying in unique ways in our day and age, the answer is still the same: self-control under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The particular temptations in front of us may have changed (and multiplied) but the human heart remains the same—as does God’s redeeming power to overcome sin.

    Thanks for provoking this conversation, Mark. It’s an important one to have.

    Side note: Jeremy, we really need to compare notes sometime. Your comment here could have been a direct quote of things I’ve said before. I appreciate you, sir!

  5. Good conversation on this gang. Thanks for taking the time to read and contemplate these issues with me. I think it is important for us to consider. You all have added great insight to the conversation. I look forward to seeing all you again soon. \

    Kristen – so glad the surgery went well . . . we were praying.

    Bill – I am praying for you guys and awaiting word on how your time at the VA went today.

  6. Mark, I enjoyed your post (I always do). From the first release of the original iPod, I have championed its potential (and therefore I even initiated a Wildwood podcast for a while). But I completely agree with your post that any technology transforms who we are by how we use it in ways that are not neutral. Technology shapes us in unforeseen ways, and it is imperative that we reflect, as you do here, on the negatives as well as the positives. Last May, my daughters participated in a dance recital that included a powerful rendition of Jars of Clay’s “Headphones” song. The song is powerful on its own; when embodied by the dance it was unforgettably haunting. Here’s Headphones at iTunes and the lyrics.

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